Response to The Atlantic

Ms. Ball –

Thank you for including the viewpoint of in your article.  As involved parents we see first hand what the national “reform” agenda has meant to our schools.  While much of the “reform” rhetoric is anti-union, it is important to note that North Carolina is a right-to-work state with no teachers unions.

The teacher accountability movement has caused the cancellation of art, music, PE, media for 6 weeks or more, turned English as a second language teachers and Exceptional Children teachers into test administrators thus, denying ELL and EC services to children. The quest for accountability led our school district to introduce 52 new standardized tests, with the goal of testing every child, in every subject, at every grade level from k-12. Parents fought back.  Mecklenburg ACTS collected over 2,000 signatures to end the testing.  We spoke out at Board of Education meetings and the tests have been rolled back.

In the eleven charter schools in Mecklenburg County, NC (Charlotte), access is limited.  Only one charter provides transportation and lunch. Charters here are even more segregated that our traditional public schools.

Two years ago, our then superintendent closed nine low performing schools — and moved those children to other low performing schools.  The closings devastated communities and the performance of the newly merged schools was generally abysmal.

After our interview, four of our protesters were invited by a StudentsFirst representative up to see the film. However, when we reached the theatre, we were denied entry.  Here’s an account of what happened.

The next day, we were denied entry to the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) despite our confirmed reservations.

Watching our school system adopt one “reform” after another with poor results moved us to act. We’re not looking for a “reform” silver bullet.  We want proven reforms – early childhood education, small class sizes, and teachers who are well paid and treated with respect.

Carol Sawyer