By Joanna Schimizzi
As a high school teacher, I often have my students do a “Top 3” when we are learning a new topic. I prefer they not default to what I “say” is most important, as they must learn to reason for themselves.
This strategy requires students to use evidence to evaluate what information is most important and leads to a class discussion about how each student’s rankings (still based on facts) are similar and different.
County Commissioner Jim Puckett recently shared his opinions on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools bond proposal. As a parent and a teacher, I’ve have personal experience with many of the topics that Commissioner Puckett brings up. The evidence that I see has convinced me that this bond is in our county’s best interest.
Here are my Top 3 reasons to “Vote Yes to Invest”:
1. Create personalized opportunity: I’m proud to have my eyes set on sending my son to a Language Immersion School, even though its four years until my son is in kindergarten. By expanding the magnet programs, especially Waddell Language Academy, I am thrilled to say that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools will be giving my son a gift that I can never give him. There is nothing wrong with the neighborhood school my family is zoned for; instead CMS understands what we in the education world call “personalized learning.” I’ve studied the long-term impact of bilingual studies, and for me, the wide variety of magnet schools offer a huge value, not an “escape” as Commissioner Puckett claims.
2. Make improvements that are overdue: Many of us delay making improvements around our home, trying to balance budgets and highest need. As the wife of an economist, I know the importance of making informed decisions about how and when to spend money. Given that Mecklenburg County has a Triple A rating, it’s time to make the investment in our schools. While I value that CMS has put tremendous thought and care into which projects should happen now, my opinion is that we should have funded these projects a long time ago. A $922 million bond package may come with some sticker shock, but given the estimated 1 million Mecklenburg County residents, it’s an investment worth making.
3. Our students and teachers deserve it: One of the reasons that the bond package is so high, is due to a delay in addressing these capital building needs. I push back on Commissioner Puckett’s claims that the buildings need repairs due to negligence. As a former CMS employee, I have witnessed personally the tremendous pride that faculty and staff put into maintaining our schools, some of which are more than 50 years old, even when repairs are long past due. I have taught 42 students in a classroom built for 28 students. I was a “floating” teacher when there weren’t enough classrooms. I have taught in a room where the ceiling tiles were constantly replaced because there was a leak in the roof that couldn’t be located. I have picked up trash side-by-side with my principal, custodian and athletics director, all of us committed to maintaining the campus to the best of our abilities. CMS employees and students have been “making do” with buildings from the 1950s for far too long. It’s time to build and renovate to make up for lost time.
Nov. 7 (and early voting) is your chance to determine how YOU can support the students and staff of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. The school bonds represent an opportunity to make a much-needed investment in public schools without any raise in your county taxes. I hope that you’ll take some time to ask questions and gather information about the opportunity to invest right now in our schools. And I hope that you’ll share your “Top 3,” as open discussion is always valuable.
Joanna Schimizzi is a National Board Certified Biology teacher and was recognized as a MeckEd Teacher of Excellence. She taught in CMS for over 9 years before leaving the classroom to work from home and stay home with her son. Joanna is committed to public schools and collaborates with organizations such as Hope Street Group, the Public School Forum, and the NC Association for Educators to include educator voice in policy discussions.