Today’s Charlotte Observer highlights an ongoing battle for transparency with Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Almost 11 months has passed since Rep. Scott Stone sent two public records requests which asked for limited information related to correspondences between School Board members, administration officials, principals, and CMS lobbyist Charles Jeter. In the early weeks of the request, very few emails were provided. But of those few which were provided most appeared to be emails that would have painted CMS in a positive light.
Earlier this month, Rep. Stone sent a letter to George Battle, CMS general counsel, asking for a resolution to the request made in February, 2018. The request relates to a series of actions by CMS, Jeter, and certain board members, in their attempts to politicize education policy. As Rep. Stone worked with other lawmakers on modifications to the state’s class size requirements, education funding formulas, and other key issues such as securing a 5th straight teacher pay raise, CMS officials were engaged in activities to fight Mecklenburg County Republican members of the General Assembly, even when the goals were aligned. One glaring example of CMS’ limit on transparency was how it restricted school principals from meeting with state House and Senate members.
“We want to be able to hear first hand from those in the trenches,” Said Rep. Stone. “We don’t want the facts being filtered, on either side. The schools in south Charlotte have different circumstances than others in CMS, just as CMS has different challenges than the other LEAs across the state. By limiting regular engagement, CMS is only protecting its own power structure and messaging.”
Read the full Charlotte Observer article HERE
The politicization of education is a growing trend across North Carolina. While the General Assembly has continued is significant increases in education funding, including increasing teacher pay at one of the highest rates in the U.S., the NC Educators Association – a teachers group closely aligned with the Democratic party – endorsed the democratic candidate in 118 of 120 NC House races in the recent 2018 general elections. The most obvious example of the politics can be seen in Rep. Jeffrey Elmore’s re-election campaign. Rep. Elmore is a chair of the NC House K-12 Education Committee, and is a K-12 teacher, but still was not endorsed by the NCEA.