Tuesday’s Open Forum saw participants rise to discuss issues on their minds. To respect privacy of Forum participants and to encourage candor during such discussions, it is the policy of this website to transcribe or paraphrase these discussions without identifying the names of the speakers. In some cases, that requires deleting portions of the statements that would identify the speaker. Some of the comments have also been edited for brevity. All excisions are marked with elipses.
Four discussion topics were transcribed. The remainder of the topics discussed are listed at the bottom of the page.
Topic: Heads on desks during EOC testing
Opening statement: I have been proctoring at West Charlotte High School for a couple of weeks, and this broke my spirit.
It was a World History class. The teacher passed out the test and… all but two of the kids laid their heads down and went to sleep. They went to sleep for at least an hour.
Now, the teacher would go by periodically and tap them and try to wake them up and try to encourage them to take the test, but it just hurt me to my heart to see that they didn’t even try.
I don’t know what we can do as a community to address this issue…. I don’t know if they didn’t know the information or they just didn’t want to try…
These were ninth-graders.
Do you know whether or not this was a special education class or a regular ninth-grade class? [Regular class.]
Did you ask the teacher what her thoughts were?
[At the end of eighth grade, the students] were considered 1s. The students were juvenile delinquents and had some issues with the law. But I just don’t understand, regardless, how. Now they came to class, they came to school. One or maybe two students took the test. The rest, in 20 minutes toward the end, they scribbled something and passed the test in… There were 12 students in the class.
I’m so happy that you had this experience. This is what we need to know about West Charlotte. We keep seeing in the paper that West Charlotte is doing so super. I know better and I’m glad that you have seen it. We need to get something [done].
I blame all of us for the condition our children are in. We don’t use the resources we have to educate. If the father’s in prison and the mother is not educating the child then the community should do something… I think we should engage our churches…. At one time we educated our children under trees, on front porches. We’ve got to go back to that.
When I did mention some concerns to the teacher, she said, “Well, they’re a good group of kids. They’re funny.”
I also proctored at West Charlotte two days last week…. Yes, there are some great things that are going on at West Charlotte, and I would like to argue that there are probably more great things that are going on than there are bad things. The empty wagon gets the grease. If we focus on what’s going wrong,…. Our schools lack something as simple as a dress code. We’ve got teachers that dress worse than some students. Why, in a classroom of 16-, 17-year-old sexually active, energetic black males, is my teacher in there with flip-flops, top of the thong and her boobs hanging out? That’s what we have at our Charlotte schools, and then we talk about respecting kids. I think our school board needs to get on board, taking some of the hard choices and doing some of the hard decisions, such as something as simple as a dress code and if not for the students, at least for the teachers…
Swatting a gnat and swallowing an elephant. We spend far too much time swatting gnats. We have bigger issues than that. The superintendent was here last week. I asked him a simple question. He skated around it like a hot potatoe and never answered it. I asked him to give me a status update on his proposal for a “courageous conversation” and he never did do it….. What is really important is the substance, content. What are you teaching these children? Are you teaching them something they can relate to, that will turn them on and make them feel good about themselves? Or are you teaching them the same old … that goes on all the time?
Different schools have dress codes. I’ve been to most all the schools, and there are schools where teachers have to dress more professionally as mandated by the principal…. It depends on the principal.
Topic: We’re young, and we want to be part of leading our community
I wanted to address the education piece and solutions and being more active, all of us together as a village to supplement the things that are happening from our political leaders and other folks, because all of us have to take an active role.
What I see with my generation is that we’re not being tapped enough to be a part of the solution. All of us want to be part of the solution and it’s something that I’m very passionate about.
I grew up here in Charlotte. I used to coach back at my high school. I tutor at Ranson Middle School, my middle school. And we want to be engaged and involved. So engage us in the leadership. Engage us in the decision-making process…. Engage our generation in helping solve the problems.
The City Council last night approved the $2.1 billion budget. Part of that, $145 million, is going to go to transportation, infrastructure, affordable housing, so we need to know about that bond that’s going to be on the ballot this November, and start doing awareness and education pieces early on, because a lot of that impacts East to West Charlotte.
So we really have to do a better job of engaging all the talent in our community, and not some of the talent on our community and tapping the same people to solve issues. There’s so much talent, there’s so much passion and so much spirit in this community. I want to see it continue to thrive. All of us want to see it continue to thrive, but we have to engage everybody in solving the problems and not just the same people.
I’ve watched this young woman grow up from a kid, and this is why I say, if you’re 60 years old, don’t put your name on the ballot. These are the people we need to be talking to…. With people like her, I feel very strongly and confident that issues that I bring forward can and will be addressed positively, and if they see different from what I see, I’m willing to yield to them. There are more and more and more like her. We just don’t engage them or try to find out who they are….
Topic: Sept. 6 Black Summit will identify solutions, foster unifying conversation
I’ve been a resident of this community for 13 years and started coming [to the Forum] the first year because I found out about such a great group meeting in the morning.
But we have to take it a step further. When we meet here, this room should be full. We should also be fanning out information, each and every one of us should be talking in our community about the concerns and issues that are going on…. I’m here as an individual in this community who wants to see greater and better.
On Sept. 6, speaking with Dr. Ben Chavis, we’re going to have a Black Summit. But the Black Summit is not going to be a gloss-over. It’s going to be a real conversation with real people. And I want to have real people there, people like you in here who have these concerns and these issues. And we talk about it yearly, monthly, daily – every Tuesday, the same things are recycled.
From this Summit, what we are trying to do is hear the smaller voice, and empower that voice to be a broader voice. So I need everyone in here who is interested.
But this is going to be a Black Summit. Other people are invited to hear to conversation, but the conversation is going to be had among black folk.
You’re looking at me strange. We talk about black conversation. Other people are talking about that conversation and want to empower us. But for us to be solidified, moving to diversify a situation, we have to have conversations amongst ourselves.
What’s hurting us? Why are we behind the eight ball? Why are we all so ready to give our talents to other communities when we won’t help our own community?
So this Summit is going to be about a real conversation. So be prepared to pull off those Band-Aids and let those sores pour out.
Sept. 6, starting at 10 a.m. at Little Rock AME Zion Church. In the morning, we’re going to have a Men’s Conversation, Women’s Conversation and a Youth Conversation. And from that we’re going to come together and talk about the three groups in each group, what are important, and fan that out.
But just understand: We can’t continue to have these broad conversations without creating solutions. What we’re trying to do is create solutions.
Topic: Let’s volunteer to help educate the young people in jail
I heard someone say that there is a very captive audience, and I feel like whether my department does it or not, it’s something in my heart that I can do. That is the very captive audience that is sitting in jail. They are not going anywhere. There’s 2,000 of them, and most of those individuals are parents. They’re 16 and 17 years old. So why not go to the prisons and … talk. The things they need are to know about the gnat, to know about the culture, to know about parenting. That’s something that we could look into doing and not be depending on anybody else to say, what can I teach? …
Ninety percent of them look like the people in this room, and they need everything. Who’s to know what might become of that, because no one wants to take on this group [of inmates]. They’re the ones who are there, and they go back out into society.
Other topics raised and discussed:
- Fighting City Hall over a traffic median
- Make curriculum relevant to black students
- It’s our job to educate our children
- Black community needs to set a change agenda
- Corporate Charlotte won’t fight for open government
- Observations after attending the Dismantling Racism training