Feb. 10, 2015
Three adults who work at West Charlotte High School but aren’t even CMS employees made a pitch for help from the community Tuesday. Their goal: Keep West Charlotte students in their seats in classrooms.
George Metz Jr., Tamara Hundley and Dr. Daisy Walker appealed for the kind of community support that they said made West Charlotte great in decades past.
Many in the Forum audience weren’t buying the argument. Some had personal experience of being actively discouraged from volunteering at the school. Several had quite detailed stories to tell about a culture of disrespect rampant inside the building that the adult staff was either uninterested in changing or unable to change. Some thought the entire educational system is broken and had empathy for the young people unwilling to put up with it as it is.
The Forum meets just down the hill from West Charlotte High School. Many of those at the Forum are West Charlotte graduates, or have deep ties to the school. Many see the young people up the hill as “their” children, and there is palpable outrage at the young people’s lack of self-discipline and self-respect, the fragility of homes in which they have grown up, and the failure of the community to create a better learning environment for 1,700 young people at “their” school.
The format of the Forum was altered Tuesday to allow people in the audience to express their concerns about West Charlotte, or to share what they know about the conditions at West Charlotte. Normally, Forum participants are only allowed to ask presenters questions. The results are below.
The first two videos focus on presentations by the Communities in Schools staffers. Thereafter are short videos of comments by individuals in the audience.
Derrick Johnson, Oneway Smokehouse at Lasalle Street & Beatties Ford Road: They’re just children.
Ken Koontz, retired TV reporter: The elders and mentors have left the village.
Malachi Greene, retired educator, business owner, City Council member: Same questions asked for 60 years.
Maurice Jones, technical education trainer: Mentor relationships require time out of school (against the rules). Teachers don’t respond to inquiries. There needs to be a plan for each youth.
Ty Turner, afterschool program employee. Some youth need vocational programs they’re interested in. Will CMS add to what is at West Charlotte?
J.R. Black, behavioral health service provider. The kids are bused in and act out to make a place for themselves in unfamiliar territory.
Charles Vakala, son of African immigrants: Are we in agreement that the schools, the system, is broken? Why try to stay in a broken system?
Reggie Singleton, The Males Place: Kids don’t have the confidence of knowing where their ancestors came from. Poverty hasn’t budged since the War on Poverty.
Richard McElrath, former school board member: City is building neighborhoods of poor people that won’t have the internal capital to support the amenities families need to thrive.
Queen Thompson, retired educator. School is big business and lots of money comes down for failing students. Have you researched what programs worked in the past?
Gyasi Foluke, author and retired Air Force and nonprofit executive: Black poverty is related to stolen wealth and miseducation.
Mary Johnson, former educator: The misbehavior I see at West Charlotte I don’t see at other high schools.
Charity Knox, jail volunteer: Students think they can flunk the first quarter and still make it. Response from Doug Jones, Project L.I.F.T.
Kenneth Simmons, former West Charlotte High School principal: The principal is responsible for a school culture.
Tommie Robinson, artist: Why don’t we take responsibility for educating our own children?
Derrick Johnson, Oneway Smokehouse at Lasalle Street & Beatties Ford Road: Take a tour. A first-hand story about how discipline was doled out to one West Charlotte student.
Denada Jackson, Project LIFT: Parents need to speak up for their children with the public officials who can make change.
Blanche Penn, former facility manager, West Charlotte Recreation Center: We used to take in the kids leaving campus.
Levester Flowers, former educator: Behavior modification programs work.
Lezlie Briggs, Community Relations Committee: Bring our Mediation program into West Charlotte.
Stephen Mohammad, educator: Missing ingredient is self-discipline.
Ceretha Sherrill, former educator: Pool the resources already available, including those at CPCC. Response from George Metz Jr., Communities in Schools
Ken Koontz, retired journalist: The Forum won’t do anything. The Forum is an information source for you to take action with your groups.