What do you see as the future challenges of public education in CMS and our state?
Charters are real, and vouchers are real. CMS is in competition for students every day. CMS is trending towards 60% economically disadvantaged, students who are more expensive to educate. If that number trends higher, it will prove unsustainable.
Hispanic students in 2005 were 10,000, in 2014-15 up to 30,000, a 300% increase that is not slowing. I fear CMS is flat footed to address the growing number of Hispanic students, and their parents. That is why I put my website in Spanish, http://stephensonforschoolboard.com/en-espanol, the only candidate to do so.
Unless and until all parents can take ownership of the personal responsibility for their children’s education, CMS will be at a significant even insurmountable disadvantage. I fear a sentiment among some in the community that it is simply not the job of parents to educate children, and the unwillingness of some to confront such sentiment.
Public education must be non-partisan, but I hear loud attention being given to nasty rhetoric about the General Assembly, and Republicans in general. It will need broad consensus to achieve needed progress, and name calling is rarely an effective advocacy or diplomacy technique. We need to remove the hot rhetoric and sit down together to discuss real problems and solutions.
Finally, Mecklenburg County is the fastest growing in the nation, and our school construction has not kept pace. We have schools built in the 1950’s, like Bruns Academy and Lansdowne Elementary that must be replaced. There are 2,100 new housing units going at Providence/485, and no high school between Providence and Ardrey Kell. Too many schools are grossly overcrowded. In five to ten years this could be catastrophic.