District 6 CMS school board candidates

Sean Strain: Yeah, so I’ve been a big proponent of looking at each of those, right? And so at the end of the day, I’m a father, and I’ve got to make the best decisions for my kids. And the same thing is true for every parent or guardian in Mecklenburg County. And when people make educational decisions, who is going to be their education services partner and provider, then we need to be in a position where they’re choosing CMS, and proficiency measures the great deal about the student that walks into a school and, and to an extent what the school is able to do with that student in terms of having them fulfill their full potential growth really measures that ability for a student to grow academically, as supported and enabled by the school in the home. And so from that perspective, I think growth is very important. It effectively measures when you’re looking at disaggregated growth, let’s be clear when you’re looking at disaggregated growth, whether that student would be better off in that school with that teacher or in another school with another teacher, whether that’s in the county or out of the county. And so because they’re measured against their academic cohort, growth is really important. And when you have high-growth schools, particularly looking at the disaggregated data, then that is very good and information for parents to make their educational choices by offering the best product. I mean, that is very clear that you know, as a father, and every parent and guardian has to make the educational choices or choices with regards to educational partners. And so from that perspective, when we put the best product out, then parents and guardians are confident that their best choice would be with CMS, as opposed to a charter or homeschooling or a private school. And so we can’t get away from the fact that those are options that every parent and guardian in this county has. And as such, I want to make sure that we are absolutely providing the best product and the best measure of that we’ve completely abandoned, which is market share. And so market share back in 2018 when we set our goals was actually on the radar. So you’re talking about how the enrollment is growing? Obviously, the enrollment has fallen into CMS. So the enrollment is growing and other educational choices because parents and guardians are making those choices. How do we reverse that trend? We reverse that trend by putting the best product out there. We have the best educational environment in our schools. We have the best teachers in our classrooms, we have the best demonstrated performance through both proficiency and growth. And when we do that, then parents and guardians will choose CMS. If we don’t do it, they will continue to flee CMS for other educational options.

Michael Watson: Yeah, I think the data itself is a bit confusing. It’s a bit. It’s a bit of a paradox, where you see growth at the highest levels that they have been in years, and then you see, but our proficiency is really low. I think, and this is a board issue, I think we aren’t communicating effectively what those metrics mean, and how parents should ingest them. Again, the growth scores are great, you know, it’s good to grow. But we have to look at the proficiency scores, not as a large district. I know, one of my ideas is that I actually believe CMS is too big of a district. And it’s too big of a district to apply this one size fits all standard, that we’ve tried to apply the grades, the proficiency scores, I think we need to micromanage that a little bit. We need to look at local level growth, local level proficiency, you know, there’s inequities across the district, and we’re not going to be able to boil the ocean, so to speak and solving for that. I think we need to, you know, look for micro growth at each of those schools in each of those districts within CMS. Yeah, I think, you know, that’s a great point, I think, you know, one of my main goals is to return CMS to the district of choice school of choice versus the charter school. I think, the exodus to charter schools, a lot of it has to do with parental rights. They want to determine what their child learns and doesn’t learn. And that’s a fair argument. I think what we have to do as a district is, you know, again, listen to our community, understand what our communities wants, and needs are, I think, when you think about the charter schools for black and brown students, what you tend to have are instructors and leaders in those schools who take a unique interest in the growth of black and brown students. And that’s admirable, you know, there’s nothing I can say that’s bad about that. I think, you know if a parent wants that for their child, and that’s the decision they make, that’s great. But we as a public school system, have to try to match that we have to sell ourselves just as good and provide instruction just as good as those schools. Another thing that I’ve learned personally, is that you know, we in the district, I live in District Six, we have, you know, really good schools in general, but you still see parents leaving to go to say, Weddington or a Waxhaw because our schools are just too large. So when your schools are too large, you can’t read As the student as effectively as you would like to. So I think we need to look at that.

Summer Nunn: Yeah, it’s funny, you said this, because I literally was having this conversation with moms of elementary school kids last night. And it’s one of those things that partially goes back to me talking about the need for communication and transparency. So a lot of people don’t understand when they hear those things, that proficiency means like a final score, right. And that there’s also the secondary score, where your kids benchmarked and then there’s, there’s where they went to. So I firmly believe I know today that schools are judged heavily on what that end score is, I think it’s 80% of the equation and only 20% is the growth you make. And I say this, as someone who manages people for a living, I will take someone who can move someone on a bigger growth trajectory than I will have, if someone just constantly has people scoring at the top, the reality is, you get a different set of kids that walk in on day one, every year for a teacher, right, and to judge them based on the outcome at the very end and the top score, I don’t think it’s fair. That’s not to say that we don’t have a lot of room to improve. But for me, the focus of success is how well you took them from the beginning to the end on that growth trajectory. And I will say, when you look at the scores, our schools actually far, much better when you look at it that way. So we have a lot of room to go. And I say that as my kid just finished third grade last year, and was part of those scores that everyone is, you know, screaming about. And I will say there’s a lot of room for growth there. But the reality is, I think the public as well as parents need to understand what the difference in proficiency and growth is, too. And I think as a parent, you get that, right, because you’re talking to the teacher. So when they’re all like, We’re freaking out, because the test score is this, it’s like, well, your kid actually started here. So we made a 50 point jump, that’s a, that’s a big deal. So that’s where I think working with the teachers and trusting them and giving them and holding them accountable there is more important than what that overall test score is, in the end, we’ve got to work towards it. But that’s a systematic thing that we have to work towards. You can’t individually judge a teacher based on what walks in on day one. And if they would just score very, very high, because they may not have been given a class that was ever going to do that. Yes, no. And I think as a parent, all you want for your kid is to best right so and I have friends whose kids are in private school and charter school, I actually get asked most time what private school my kids go to, because I’m a corporate executive, and I have to crack them that my kids are in public school. And the reality is public school, you don’t get to pick and choose charter schools, you do. So I would want to look at the data to understand even with the black and brown students, they tend to cherry pick the better performing ones, because a lot of them actually have screenings they do before you can actually get into the school. So I don’t think it’s a fair assessment without truly looking at the data. When you can cherry pick the group that’s coming into your school, you can score better. I can do that in the corporate world, too, by the way. So that’s how you, you manipulate data. The reality with public schools is they’re they’re also to pick up things when the charter schools fail. And we know overall, the charter schools actually scored under CMS. And I think a lot of people want to justify their decisions of why they move their kids to private and charter schools and it’s for the better, but the reality is they can get a tremendous education and CMS too, right? So they’re not apples and oranges. Sometimes, it’s just how you cut the data to be perfectly frank. So the one thing I do have concern over is when we look at how North Carolina has continued to under fund public education in North Carolina, and charter schools and private schools are pulling funds away, it makes it even harder for CMS to be successful. And they have strict guidelines that the state and then the school board actually helps dictate right within CMS, where the others don’t. And that’s very concerning, because you get tremendous charter schools, and you’re gonna get schools that completely fail, kids. And so that’s the difference is, you know, you’re rolling the dice, they’re here, while there’s tremendous room to improve in CMS, the reality is, it’s governed, it should be successful for kids, right? Where the charter schools you don’t know, because there’s your oversight. And I will say, as we’ve continued to pull funds away, it’s always going to be harder to do better with less not to say that we can’t, but they tend to siphon away investments that we need to make, and all the kids here in the county while they go and actually cherry pick who’s in their schools.

**NOTE: All of these quotes are transcriptions of their on-camera interviews with Morrison**

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