CMS school board candidates: District 4
WCNC Charlotte Education Reporter Shamarria Morrison spoke with all 18 people running for a CMS school board seat this election.
There are 18 people running to be school board members in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District. The open positions are District 1, District 2, District 3, District 4, District 5 and District 6.
There are four incumbents in the race: Rhonda Cheek (District 1), Thelma Byers-Bailey (District 2), Carol Sawyer (District 4), and Sean Strain (District 6).
RELATED: 2022 midterm election voter guide
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools could see as many as six new people representing the second-largest school district in North Carolina. Elections for school boards in the Charlotte area are nonpartisan. Nonetheless, over the past few years, it’s continually been more difficult to separate school board business from political and social culture wars.
School board meetings prior to COVID-19 were relatively mundane, sparsely attended and procedural.
During the height of the pandemic, meetings that historically would have a few dozen people watching online suddenly had thousands watching at any given time.
The race for the CMS school board in 2022 will arguably be one of the most consequential and watched.
CMS is continuing its overview of school boundaries and buildings in anticipation of the 2023 bond referendum. The new school board will also vote for the next superintendent of CMS at a time when most of its students are performing at levels below college and career readiness.
THE CANDIDATES: Who's running in this district
There are three candidates running in District 4. Carol Sawyer is the incumbent.
Carol Sawyer (Democrat): Sawyer is the incumbent in this race. She chairs the board’s policy committee. She is regularly heard speaking out on issues regarding LGBTQ students, student health and outcomes. She is a co-founder of OneMeck and Mecklenburg ACTS advocacy groups. Her campaign platforms include equity, academic achievement, educator pay and culture wars. Sawyer has been the focus online and at board meetings of many conservative parent groups regarding her school board votes.
Stephanie Sneed (Democrat): Sneed is a lawyer and is the past chair of the Black Political Caucus of Charlotte-Mecklenburg. Her platform includes student achievement, mental health and teacher retention. Sneed, a CMS parent who sits on the CMS Bond Oversight Committee, is a school volunteer and a proud former Girl Scout Leader. Sneed critical of the current board's leadership thinks a strong superintendent will come from a strong school board. Sneed lost to Sawyer in 2017 and ran at-large in 2019 but lost by a margin of fewer than 200 votes.
Clara Kennedy Witherspoon (Democrat): Witherspoon grew up in Charlotte and is a CMS retiree. She has not run for elected office before but believes her recent experience inside the schools makes her the perfect school board candidate. Witherspoon worked in the district as a multi-tiered system of support for staff members. It's a role CMS officials have touted as the answer to help student outcomes and close the achievement gap. Witherspoon also wants to be a voice for more schools built in her district due to the rising number of families moving there. She wants to focus on permanent new and upgraded buildings instead of building more relief schools.
THE QUESTIONS: What WCNC asked the candidates
WCNC Charlotte Education Reporter Shamarria Morrison interviewed each candidate running for the school board about their positions on a number of critical topics facing education. Each candidate was given up to 16 minutes to respond to questions regarding the following topics: School safety, the CMS superintendent search, teacher and staff retention and CMS achievement scores.
WCNC Charlotte asked the following questions of each candidate:
- In 2021, CMS had a record number of guns found in the first half of the school year. In response, the board directed the superintendent to make changes. The most front-facing included almost 10 million in weapons detectors, and more than $400,000 on clear backpacks. As of Sept 26, CMS reported no guns found on campuses this year. What other moves does CMS need to make to continue to make school safer? NOTE: After we concluded all but one of our interviews (Steven Rushing) we learned one gun was found at Julius Chambers High School
- An ATF report shows the number of bomb threats targeted at schools has increased more than two-fold from 2019-2021. In 2022, Every Town Search tracked at least 113 incidents of gunfire on school grounds, resulting in 41 deaths and 82 injuries nationally. Who has the answers to stop school gun violence and how would you utilize their resources?
CMS Superintendent Search
- CMS will start its superintendent search and interviews in earnest after the November elections. For the past decade, the district has had trouble keeping anyone in the top position for more than 3 years. What do you attribute to the superintendent turnover and how will you change this on the board?
- What is the one important question you’ll be asking the next superintendent of CMS schools and what is the answer you want from them to consider them for the job?
Teacher and Staff Retention
- As of Sept 22, CMS is still searching for more than 350 teachers to fill classrooms. Although the district has current stop gaps to fill these positions like, guest teachers, funding will run out for them. What is in board control to increase teacher and staff retention?
- In February 2022, WCNC reported at that time about 11% or just over 1,000 of CMS’s teaching staff had retired or resigned. Common reasons we heard for them leaving was pay, morale, school culture, and workload. What is a culture issue CMS is facing and how will you work to fix this?
CMS Achievement Scores
- WCNC compared four area districts' performance grades to CMS. The schools we compared were Catawba, Union County, Gaston, Cabarrus and CMS. CMS’s grade level proficiency scores were towards the bottom of the batch, but the district growth scores are towards the top. What should parents take away from CMS’s performance scores?
- On a statewide level, traditional public schools on average had higher grade-level proficiency scores than charter schools. WCNC analyzed area charter schools and CMS’s proficiency levels for Black and Hispanic students. The charter schools had higher proficiency levels for these students than CMS. The number of charter school enrolments for students in North Carolina has increased over the last five years according to the Department of education. How do you keep Black and Hispanic students in traditional public schools when some would argue for decades traditional public school has failed them?
SCHOOL SAFETY: How to make schools safer
Carol Sawyer: You know, I think the key to have our students feel safe is for every student to have a trusted adult in the schoolhouse. Now, it doesn't have to be a teacher. It can be an administrator, it can be a custodian, it can be a bus driver, but every student needs to have someone who sees them and understands them and recognizes their humanity. And that will build a safer school environment. That's clearly a national a national issue. I know that our board- has been working with law enforcement in in Charlotte and the surrounding towns and other government agencies to work to, to create a safer storage for guns. You know, we've had students who've, you know, picked up a gun at home and brought it to school, young children, children who should not have access to guns or ammunition. So one is getting the community to embrace safe storage. The bigger picture frankly, there are too many guns in our culture in our society. But as a school board member, there's not a lot I can do to to curtail that, but you know, we have there's too easy access to weapons in our culture.
Stephanie Sneed: So one of the things so outside of physically safe, right, so everybody agrees that we know our buildings have to have things like we have to have locking mechanisms, we have to have abilities to alert police when it's necessary. When there's some issue, you know, some, you know, God forbid, some, you know, active shooter situation like so you have to have like those core security, physical security things in place. But the other thing is that we often forget about this is again, how we commit to the community, right? So we can't we often hear that when there are even though there are fights in school that these are community issues, those are the words that often use, but the school has to be connected to the community. So how can you say we do that? So if there's, you know, we have collaborative efforts, like with city and county, for one example. The city has violence disruptors, right? They have a new violence, you know, it's not new, but they have a violence disruptive program, believe just a million dollars was just committed to the violence, disruptive programs, I believe, don't quote me on it, that number might be wrong. But I think it's a million dollars with the violence of disruptive program, up through the city, those people have their ear to the ground, right? So they know what's happening in the community, often with young people, they have to be connected with our school system, right? So that we can know that, you know, these these these rumblings in the community happening that may be happening with students so that there's a connection with it. That's the connection with CMS. So we have to have those collaborative efforts like can't be just operate in a silo in order to deal with safety issues. The other thing is that we may often forget about too, is that we have to make sure that the funding is attached to or allocated to access to mental health support for our students, not only our students but our families. So I know having you know prior practice in the child, child protective service area is where I first when I first started practicing law, this the area that I worked in, I know that if you just treat the student and not necessarily have services for family, then you're not going to make much headway so there has to be partnerships and opportunities with the county with some of our private sector health organizations that we are, you know if there are issues with students that you know, that they are able to make those connections with the student and the family.
Clara Kennedy Witherspoon: Well, the first thing that I would say about school safety, I think that we're doing some good things. Now, the metal detectors, and I know what's inside of the building. We have a lot of protocols inside the school building for safety. But one of the things I think is huge for our new superintendent to do is to make sure he develops have put in place a well qualified safety team. Because if you think about a lot of our school buildings, we have different designs well I always think about Garinger because that's one of the last buildings that I worked inside, you have entry levels, various places within that building. And so how do we keeps kids safe? When you have an entry? Well, entry level to the left to the right. How do you keep kids safe? It's important for us to make sure that we have a well qualified safety team who has had that kind of experience. And that person should be the one who will be who will advise our superintendent. So yes, because of the designs that we have in various schools. It's important for us to have a team that is qualified, gifted and knows how to address those issues.
**NOTE: All of these quotes are transcriptions of their on-camera interviews with Morrison**
SUPERINTENDENT SEARCH: What they're looking for
Carol Sawyer: Well, I would say that the tenure of our superintendents is actually fairly typical nationally of large urban districts. So we are not an outlier in this. That said, it's really important to have a superintendent who can stay and help us release accomplish our goals. I think that the progress the board has made in defining what its expectations are for the district will actually help us hire a strong superintendent, and help that superintendent know when he or she is on track on meeting those goals and will make it easier to hire and retain a superintendent. Well, I think there are really two parts to that. One is a superintendent who embraces the direction, the board is going in establishing our goals for the district and our guardrails for the superintendent to accomplish them. But also, I want the superintendent to reflect the values of our community. And by that, I mean someone who embraces diversity, embraces the multicultural community that we're in and is willing to embrace our multiculturalism policy, which really is very inclusive.
Stephanie Sneed: I think it's important to find a superintendent that has the right fit. And so and that is selected that is particularly be able to focus on the needs of our community of Charlotte Mecklenburg is the 17th largest school district in the nation. So we cannot have a good superintendent without a strong board. So it all starts with the board, the board is the boss of the superintendent, some think that's the other way around, but it's not. So you have to have a strong board that is able that has established goals that can give the direction that is necessary to the superintendent. And that direction, it has to be measurable goals, then that the superintendent has, in order to be able to have a checks and balance on performance of the superintendent, the superintendent has to be able to operate a $2 billion budget and to be able to manage those funds in a way that is beneficial, not only for the CMS system itself, but you have to keep in mind what the ultimate goal is, is to produce excellent students, excellent educational experiences. So those things are very important, that superintendent has to be able to be able to connect with the community, right. So we often hear like, oh, we need that this is not just a school system issue that we have, but there are community issues. But if the school system in the board and the superintendent is not trusted, then you're not going to get the buy-in from the community. So that superintendent has a unique task of they have to be able to realize that they have to not only be exceptional in organizing the administration of CMS, but also be a motivator to the staff, but not only to the staff, but to students and to families. So that is key one of the one of the number one things that I think of is with a superintendent, they cannot have a deficit view of children. And that when I say that, it can't be something that we just think oh, is because children are from a certain socio-economic class that the expectation is set low, the bar needs to be set high for all children. So that all because if the bar is low, then nobody's going to rise to the occasion. So we have to make sure their superintendent is very inept, and raising the ceiling and the floor at the same time, they have to be able to come with some innovative ways in order to do that. And the other thing is, is that one of the things that is very important is that they have to be not afraid to make changes, they have to be able to make changes in order for them to navigate the huge system of CMS in the core issues that need to be addressed, you know, should come from the top down as the bottom up like this is not necessarily a bottom level issue, but top-level issues in order to make our system our school system better. So what are the question I would ask is similar to something around performance? Like how do you improve student outcomes? Or what are your your ideas for improving student outcomes for people of all students of all socio economic classes? Recognizing that some students have greatest support systems at home? Some students don't like how do we bring along all the students like what are some examples that you have been successful in doing that are leading those efforts? And the two part thing is that I would want to know is how have you addressed teacher retention? Right? Because any superintendent is very limited about what they can do about teacher pay. Right? So how do we what are some other ways that you have been able to retain your seasoned teachers, your experienced teachers? How have you been able to recruit new teachers? And what kind of support systems have you put around teachers? Those are, those are two key things that I would want to know from that superintendent.
Clara Kennedy Witherspoon: I think with the board needs to do is to make sure they have an interviewing process to ensure that they're getting the right person with you. Right, we have gone through what three superintendents two have been let go. And I think that falls back on the board's hands says it falls back in their laps, it's their responsibility. But I think the problem is, is that we're not looking at the best candidate, we're not looking at the skills that are needed. And there's a lot of things when you think about hiring somebody, you have to look at the whole person. It's not It's really no way to separate a person from the ethical beliefs from their skills, you have the whole person. And I think that's one of the things we may this board may have not done well. And even making sure that the person that they hire is really qualified for the job. And I want to talk about what we just did with Ernest Winston. To me, the board knew that he did not have every skill that he needed to do the job, but they hired him. So what my concern is, is why didn't you if you knew that he didn't have everything and you made the choice to hire him? Why didn't you come alongside him and provide all the support that he needed? As I've said many times it may have, it may look like it may have looked like micromanagement, but that's okay because he needed more support to be successful. And we didn't provide it. And that's the issue for me, we ought to get it right, this go round, we don't need, to look for a superintendent and do it too hastily, we need to take our time, we do make sure we have all the right interview questions in place, we need to do with the check and balance and make sure we've got to get it right because we don't get it right. It's on the back of children, we need a consistent, stable superintendent. And when you take our time to do that. My question would be to him or her: outcome data. What data do you have that have proven that you are you have been successful in closing achievement gaps? And I want and I would want to see that data presented to us talked about, because if you have done it, you should have the outcome data. And if the data is not because talk is good, but where's the data? Because we need to see the proof when it's time out for us to just hiring people because it sounds good. We need outcome data to prove that they have done what they say they have done.
**NOTE: All of these quotes are transcriptions of their on-camera interviews with Morrison**
RETENTION: How to keep teachers, staff
Carol Sawyer: Well, I think there are a couple of parts to that too. One is advocacy for better pay for our teachers. So pay isn't everything, but pay is a lot. And that is advocacy at the level of our state legislature, and also at our county commission. Those are the two funding sources that we have for teacher base salary, and also a county supplement because we're finding that teachers can't afford to live in Mecklenburg County on the state salary, teachers and other educators and staff. So that's one I mean, pay isn't everything. But it's if you've got to pay rent, it's a lot. The other is to establish a culture. From the top down that values teacher voice, I am very proud to be the only candidate in my race that is endorsed by the teachers' group, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Association of Educators, because I have a proven track record of listening to their concerns, and amplifying those and working with them to make sure that our teachers feel valued and heard. Because after all, teacher working conditions, our students learning conditions, we need our teachers to be satisfied and empowered in their schools for our students to be successful. Well, from the top down, leadership sets a tone for for a culture, and it has to go through several steps to get to the schoolhouse. But I think it starts at the top, it starts with our superintendent and his his or her cabinet. But then, you know, principals have tremendous power to establish a culture. And you know, there are principles that staff will follow around the district, even if it means commuting across the county. So we need to support those principles and help our new principals gain those skills to build a school culture that supportive and empowering for teachers.
Stephanie Sneed: So I think there's some opportunity. So one thing is, I can't you know, the board is the center kind of everything. So one of the things is hire a great superintendent that can address these issues like that has to be something that the board does to make sure that their superintendent puts pieces in place that will deal with teacher recruitment and incentive. But the number one thing is as an employment attorney that has worked with large organizations, I know for a fact that if you have it, you have to create a workplace that people are happy. And that is whether you pay them $10 An hour or $110,000 an hour, right? You have to make sure if you want better outcome or better participation, a better buy-in from your staff, for them to be able to recruit people for they'd have a great reputation to work there. Then it has to be a place that teachers enjoy to work that comes from the top-down issue. So the superintendent has to be focused on you know, has to be focused on So that's one of the ways that we're gonna do it. The second way is, I believe there's some unique opportunities with collaboration with City Council of city, county, private corporations and community that can help that the board can facilitate, through its governmental efforts and community partnership efforts. And even the direction of the community partner efforts to our superintendent is, in order to come up with some unique incentives. For teachers, I think there may be some opportunity for some housing incentives personally with private sector, businesses and residents owners that have large apartment buildings here in Charlotte, there may be some opportunities there that I have been exploring that seemed that may have been there may be some representation that, you know, that is something that we should look into. So I think unique opportunities such as that should be looked into. I think I'm not sure. Well, that is a broad, that is a broad question, I think very much so as I just mentioned, is that there has to be a culture that is supports teachers, and that is a culture that treats them as professionals that they are, right, there are some opportunities, again, that the superintendent can take in order to make a great working place for teachers, again, that ties back to the board like so I kind of keep saying like everything kind of ties back to the board, it kind of starts with the board. And then everything kind of trickles down from there to what type of school system we have. But there's very much so with the type of superintendent that we have, again, we have to create a place that teachers are invested in teachers are appreciated, teachers will be able to have input. And one of the things that again, is that I think that you know, in the conversations, the board is you know, is doesn't operate the day-to-day, day-to-day operations for the school system. But one of those questions in vetting, a superintendent is very much like how do we retain teachers? Like what type of input do you want to get from teachers? I believe very much so the teacher should have buy-in on leaders like leadership and schools like that makes a huge difference. Like what kind of investment are we making into developing great leaders of schools, like those are the type of things that superintendent should be paying attention to.
Clara Kennedy Witherspoon: While I'm gonna say you are going to answer it this way, when you ask how do I, how can I identify, I worked right in the buildings. I worked as a, I worked as a teacher assistant before. I worked as a graduation coach with CMS Garinger High School. And I worked as the MTSS specialist, but let's talk about inside the building where I have experienced teachers, teachers understood teachers losing interest in the profession, and as well as their morale. Because I think what teachers need to feel is valued. They need to feel that they have flexibility to designs curriculums, especially our seasoned teachers, our seasoned teachers, to me are, they are essential, and a central for even our new teachers, because they're you're looking at mentoring. So I think teachers are burnout because I know that there's challenges when we talk about behaviors in our schools. But I think about when I think about behaviors, I think about the whole child. And often our teachers don't have the professional development to be more culturally sensitive, but it's not their fault. I think that's something that we have to tweak from a systems perspective. So and I know that competitive salaries is huge, we do not, we don't pay our teachers enough, someone said to me not too long ago, if you pay them, well, they will come. And I believe that. So I think there's a whole lot of reasons. We need strong leaders in our schools, and especially in our low-performing schools. A lot of times what I have seen is teachers who have moved into leadership roles, and they're new. I'm not negating the fact that they should be given an opportunity. But when we are already in struggling schools, what we need are- our leaders who are strong leaders, who understands how to make the changes, who understands how to get the staff to buy in who assistive to their staff, and understands cultural diversity, because a lot of our schools extremely diverse. So I think there's a lot of reasons teachers are leaving. And I think that that's something that the board has to address, but they have to look at the whole teacher, their social, emotional needs, you know, if you have a teacher that's coming into school, they're working part-time jobs and making ends meet. And then they're struggling, they have to work extra hours to do tutoring. And then we go, then they have to go home to their families, how much time how much energy do they have to give to their own family so I can understand the burnout? We've got to do a better job of looking at the whole teacher and supporting the whole teacher. Well, you know, the board has a lot of control when it when we talk about putting incentives in place to increase morale. You know, your board is your is actually your executive team is the one that's going to be governing, pushing and moving things. So I think it has to start with the board, making sure we are the board is setting parameters, setting systems in place that will attract teachers putting a competitive salaries, but we have to do all of those things to draw our teachers and help people wanting to go into the profession. And we also can think about how to market how do we market our teachers. How do we market the need for teachers and I end in order, think about our guest teachers. You know, that's just where we are right now, we don't have that we don't have the staff to fill the positions. And I think is also that we're not doing a really great job, and even providing professional development for I guess, teachers. So I think it's a challenge, but the board can do a lot of it has to start with the board.
**NOTE: All of these quotes are transcriptions of their on-camera interviews with Morrison**
ACHIEVEMENT SCORES: How to raise the bar
Carol Sawyer: Well, first of all, as you said, the scores are not the be-all and end-all. And I think if parents want to understand what's going on in school, they need to go visit, they need to go go to open houses, visit classrooms, watch the teaching and learning happening because the scores are just the tiniest barometer of what's happening in a school. That said, growth is really important. That means how, you know if students are actively learning and you know, we have some schools where children come to school, not without the benefit of preschool, or the benefit of living in an English language environment. So we have students who come to us with linguistic diversity, which is amazing. And we want them to keep that those linguistic skills while also learning English. So, you know, those are the kinds of things that you need to look at when you look at schools. Well, I think that one needs to just visit our schools. That's That's one. Charter schools have a very different as you said, they play by different rules. They don't. They don't have the number of English language learners. They don't take as many students with disabilities they certainly don't provide the kinds of services for Exceptional Children that CMS does, and, you know, once you enroll in a charter school, throughout that school year, the enrollment only goes down. Whereas in CMS, students come to us from charter schools from homeschools, from out of state all year long. I mean, one of my opponents in this race is has been on the board of a charter school. And while that school has less than 10% of its students experiencing poverty, the racial achievement gaps are huge, with white and Asian students far outperforming African American students. So, you know, I don't think there's a simple answer to this. You know, we have centuries of racial impact on everything in our system, from education to health care, to housing, and all those things impact our students. And that's those biases. Enter all aspects of our lives, including our schools, and that's something that CMS has been proactive in looking at, in one, educating our staff on anti-racist work, also, to make sure that our curriculum is culturally responsive and inclusive, and that our staff understand how to teach in culturally responsive ways. All those things are important.
Stephanie Sneed: So will there be taken from honestly where any parent should be taken- taking take paying attention to is that your child, when they leave CMS, should be college or career ready. That's that is it growth is great, it doesn't give you a measure of it does give you a measure of where you going and what direction you're going. But growth from the from the lowest bottom to a not-so-low bottom is not great, right? Like so we have to leave the we have to make we have to pay attention to growth. But we need to make we beat to meet making strides and growth grow from the bottom, you know, the lowest bottom to the you know, maybe just above that is is is great, but it's still not acceptable about where we should be. So we have to keep in mind when we're listening, where are we growing from? And where are we growing to. But again, the ultimate goal, the pace that we're getting at the ultimate goal, which is that every student should leave college or career ready. That's the challenge. Right? That's the challenge we're talking about. Like that's, that's why we're here. That's why we run it like, I think that we have to have a school system that people are, are invested in, in order to do that, you know, it takes new leadership, sometimes it takes new leadership. We have to have a school system that people believe in and have faith in and that are producing the outcomes that are that are required, frankly, that we produce. So when you when people I know, I generally think people want to be invested in a public school system. But some parents believe they don't have a choice. They just don't have a choice. And that's how they end up outside of CMS. So this is a massive effort like so the image of the school system has to change the image of the board has to change the image of we have to have a superintendent that people believe in is going to be able to turn things around. That's why I said specifically when we asked for what are we looking for in the superintendent like one of the things is they have to be a motivator like they have to have a connection to the community and they have to connect with a broad range of community because you know, Charlotte is diverse, we have diverse pockets of communities that their needs have to be met as well. We have a majority-minority school system so the superintendent is definitely has to pay attention to those things and those in a broad socio-economic pattern. So in order to get those investments so we can get community partners make it easier for community partners to engage with the system like there are plenty of I don't want to say plenty there are there opportunities that I know that have been missed with some community partners, because they have not been able to necessarily, you know, enter agreements into with CMS and you know, that want to have. So we have to channel all this energy into get people invested in the school system. And when I say invested, I mean, even people that don't have children.
Clara Kennedy Witherspoon: Well, you know, I think for myself, if I was a parent looking at that data, I will be very, very concerned that my district is near the bottom. And I will be very- and now the growth is great. But I would be concerned about my child getting a quality education in CMS. And I think that is something that we have to look at as a board. How do we be competitive? How do we make sure that children are getting a quality education, I've looked at data myself, I looked at my district that I'm running for I know that we have 27, CMS has 27 schools that are on the D and F list. But I also looked at my district and I looked at the schools. And we can look at the data all day long. And know that what we see is that we have eight and we know that we have 81 failing schools D and F failing schools, but whereas look at the data and we think about the schools that are doing well within CMS. And that's the way I said okay, we need to have some solutions. Let's look at some solutions. We know that the data is saying that we've got these schools failing, but what is happening in our schools that are not failing? So I looked at a few of the schools in my district, and we have about two or three that have Bs. And that means we have kids, we have growth and exceeded growth. And we have a grade level of a B. And I'm going to drive it to this point. And this is the issue that I have within our district is that we put- we put frameworks in place, we put systems in place the we don't have accountability. We don't have accountability. We don't follow through on things. You know, when I think about what we need to do, if we think about solution, CMS has a solution. We have some schools implementing it such as Bains, such as Coulwood. And I'm sure you've heard about their data. And so when you look at those schools, you say, what are they doing? Let's even talk about Chantilly. What are these schools doing that the other schools are not doing? Why aren't we doing this across the board, what we should be doing is making sure that everybody in this district, every single school is implementing under the framework of a multi-tiered system of support framework, that is the framework that will change our schools, all of our schools for all of our students. But what you have is operating on one side of the town is operating different, there's no consistency across the board. And that is one of the things that we have to change, we have to make sure we implement. And that is the solution to our low-performing schools, a multi-tiered system of support framework. And that is the way every school should operate from general ed to students needing supplemental intensive support. But generally across the board, this is the system. This is the framework that will turn our schools around. But you have some schools that implemented some schools that don't we probably more that don't then do that is the inconsistency that we have to change within our board has to start with our board. But how can I start with a board if half the board don't understand? You need people like myself on the board? Who understand that that's what I did. When I retired this past January, I was a multi-tiered system of support specialists. In that role, I work with schools to look at their data, because that's we'd call it data problem-solving. Look at your data. Look at and then let's look at subgroups. Let's see Let's look at gender. Let's see what is going on with our kids. And then we can begin to make changes. We can talk about instruction. If you've got a school and every teacher is marching at their own beat the curriculum, the instructional practices are not the same. That's an issue. It should be the same your grading system should be the same. All of this comes under one multi-tiered support for children. And that's just not for our children in need. As for every student that's in the building, that's how we bring about change. That's how we change the numbers. That's how we exceed growth. And that's how we turn CMS around. But we have to have accountability. We have to have consistent accountability. One principal doesn't get to do it one way, because that's the way I want to do it. No, every principal should implement it. And there should be a consistency across the board. That is the board's responsibility to make sure that happens. And then to hold the superintendent accountable for that. And that superintendent holds, area superintendents, area superintendents, school building leaders accountable to do the work that brings about the changes. Well you know what, as a parent, when I was rearing children who are now grown, I looked at those various options, just the way these parents are, and I can't blame them. Because if we don't get it, right, public schools don't get it right. Parents should have choices. I don't have issue with parents having choices. But I think if we do the work, and we do the work well, we won't be losing all of our kids to charter schools, I think we're going to always have charter schools in existence. But the public schools will be competitive, we're not competitive. And you know what, that doesn't surprise me that you found out that data, because I do my canvassing, I met lots of parents in neighborhoods of brown and black children, and I ask are your child going to school, while my child goes to a charter school, I'm sending my child across town, I can tell you, I've probably talked about 10 or more parents have said that, you know why? Because schools like Hickory Grove that is very close to where I live. It's a low performing school. And I think it has a D. And so they're not going to want their children to go to D schools. But that's not the school's total fault. If we don't have equity across the board, some of our schools don't have the resources, they need the inability to hire the staff for interventions needed to have intervention blocks, all of those things when we talk about equity, that will bring about change when we level the playing the playing ground for every single school. But getting back directly to your question. I would say parents should have the choice. The parent should have a choice. If we don't deliver, they should have a choice to put their children where schools can provide their child with a quality education. But if CMS gets it right, we can be competitive again.
**NOTE: All of these quotes are transcriptions of their on-camera interviews with Morrison**
WHEN TO VOTE: How to cast your ballot
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