MeckEd Weekly Education News-4/1/11

Dear Friends of MeckEd,

There has been much buzz this week surrounding the CMS 2011-12 budget and our community’s efforts to find a solution to these proposed reductions. MeckEd hosted several meetings with local clergy and other community groups, parents rallied to save middle school sports and the NAACP met with CMS to propose potential solutions to the impending predicament.

I am afraid the $100 million shortfall faced by CMS for 2011-12 is no April Fools Spoof.  In fact, I fear that the actual shortfall could be greater than once predicted with the recent news from Raleigh that North Carolina also owes the Federal Government an additional $2 billion for the money the Old North State had to borrow to cover the cost of unemployment benefits that are a result of thousands of NC workers who lost their jobs dating back to the beginning of the recession in 2008.

That being said, I implore all supporters of public schools to “keep your eyes on the prize,” and that prize is finding effective ways of helping our Mecklenburg County Commissioners to understand how important it is for our community to have a strong and adequately funded school system, and as a community that supports strong public schools, we cannot withstand a third year of massive budget reductions.

This past week there have been other important education-based issues in the news around a new pay for performance plan and additional assessments, and while these issues are important, I fear they could take the spotlight away from the estimated $100 million in cuts CMS faces in 2011-12. I applaud the work of MeckFUTURE, a grassroots school and family based organization that is ramping up energy and advocacy to help all schools, PTAs, and School Leadership Teams understand how important their voices are in influencing our elected officials. As a community we have about 60 days left to help persuade our County Commissioners on the most timely issue at hand and that is to convince our elected officials to approve additional funding for CMS.  I strongly encourage you to attend a rally on Wednesday, April 13th at 6:00 p.m. at Metro School (Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. across from Marshall Park), where Dr. Gorman, Eric Davis, leaders of MeckFUTURE, and I will be speaking. We need your voice to be heard!

Did you know? In a recent Carolina Issues Poll, 66% of North Carolinian voters surveyed supported keeping state taxes at current levels to avoid further cuts to education.  Read more of the poll results.

Money does matter. In an article in the American Educator, Richard W. Riley and Arthur Coleman discuss how important it is for educators and policy makers to align financial resources to ensure that students, teachers and administrators receive the support they need to be successful. Read more.

As you know, budget cuts are not only affecting our community. The effects of the budget crises are being felt all over the country as a result of state budget reductions, the loss of federal stimulus dollars, and an economy that is struggling to recover. School districts are being forced to cut programs and take actions once thought unimaginable, including cutting sports programs and transportation and increasing class sizes. Read how other school districts are dealing with budget cuts.

Locally, a bill introduced by N.C. Rep. Ruth Samuelson would eliminate the need for CMS to get teacher approval for a controversial pay for performance plan. Teachers and teacher groups held a news conference on Thursday to express their concerns and displeasure with the bill in its current form. Read more here.

In a national story out of Boston, Globe writer Kim Marshall suggests that for starters, school districts should fix their evaluations systems first.  He states that while many factors drag down student achievement, research shows good teaching can overcome them all. Read more.

On a lighter note, students from Olympic High School built a three-bedroom Habitat house from foundation to finish. This is the third house Olympic High School has built as part of an ongoing school project. Students involved with this program have improved academically and have gained personal fulfillment. Read more of the story.

As we get closer to the final budget decision for CMS and the state plans to reveal its budget proposal any day now, I encourage you to stay informed about the most recent updates to the budgeting process. View the budget materials on our website, request a speaker from our Speaker’s Bureau to provide a budget presentation and attend the event on April 13 at 6 p.m. at the Metro School. We must continue to advocate for quality public education for CMS children and work to ensure that the budget cuts do not negatively impact our children’s education. Thank you for your continued support of MeckEd. We welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact us with your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Bill Anderson, Ed. D.
Executive Director

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