Yana Symone Smith, left, serves as vice president for Teach for America in Charlotte. Her message of how the organization is changing to better train and retain its young mentees for longer and more effective service in the classroom was laced with straight talk about reforming an internal culture of white privilege. If her presentation made news, it might have been in announcing that the organization will push its next class of college grads to make a four-year commitment to the classroom, not the historical two-year commitment.
Eric Watson, in center above, has joined Smith’s board. From his vantage point at the Carolinas Minority Supplier Development Council, he says Charlotte has changed in some ways in the last 35 years, and not very much in other ways. His straight talk invigorated the audience Tuesday.
And Chiquitha Lloyd, who administers CMS’s Minority, Women, and Small Business Enterprise Program, is chair of the board that recently lured Watson to the Development Council.
Each of the speakers made initial comments, shown below. During the Q&A that followed, most of the questions were directed to Smith. Lloyd passed out this material.
Introductory comments: Yana Symone Smith
Introductory comments: Eric Watson
Introductory comments: Chiquitha Lloyd
Q&A Part 1
Q: Can the MWSBE program be successful when the school board has only 2 employees devoted to it? How are we doing against the goals?
Q: What’s the average tenure of Teach for America teachers?
Q: Seems like the further you get from the black community, the more successful you are. Do you live in a black community? If not, perhaps you could get a summer home in a black community?
Q: Aren’t Teach for America teachers mostly white, posted to mostly black schools, and ill-prepared after only 6 weeks training for their task? And isn’t there bias against blacks getting into the program?
Q&A Part 2
Q: Are you recruiting mid-life career-changers?
Q: Have studies been done to prove that one path into the classroom produces better teachers than another path?
Q: Education used to be seen as the great equalizer. But you say it’s all about who you know. Will we ever be able to close the wealth gap?
Q: What do you do to prepare Teach for America teachers to work with children with special needs?
Q: My view as a contractor is that CMS is the worst in town for minority inclusion. What are you doing to improve that reputation?
Q: What do we the people need to do to get teacher pay up?
Q: Local communities have the power to raise teacher pay. Shouldn’t you be pushing the school board to do so?
Q: What does Teach for America offer to parents?