Elevating Students: Charlotte School Thinking Outside the Box

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The Charlotte Mecklenburg School (CMS) system is exploring the idea of a separate K-12 school for Black males. A task force given the job of addressing “ongoing issues dealing with African-American males in CMS” suggests that an academy of this sort “would build leadership, business and academic skills for black male students.” According to a potential student, other benefits would include not having the distraction of females to fight over, having the opportunity to “just get along and relate to each other,” and having a safer school, without having to “worry about insults and racism.”

I applaud CMS for their willingness to think outside the diversity box and consider the possibility that people might be better able to accomplish the necessary tasks of learning when they are doing it with people who are like them. It does give me pause, however, because it does sound a lot like segregation. And Charlotte has a long history of battles over segregation.

Charlotte is my hometown and I graduated from the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system in 1976 (Olympic High School, if anyone is interested.) I was there when they desegregated the schools in Charlotte. I remember the court battles. I remember my fear in sixth grade that they were going to make us change schools right in the middle of the school year and I would be bused to a school right next to some not-very-nice projects. I remember being bussed to the junior high school right next to that school for seventh grade. I remember my first Black friends and I remember some Black girls that scared me to death. I remember changing schools three more times in my secondary school career as the administration kept redrawing attendance lines to maintain that magical 70/30, white/black balance that the courts told us was essential for everyone to receive a good education.

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