Pamela Grundy controls the universe

One man’s perspective, anyway.

The Meck Deck: Comment and analysis on all things Charlotte

21 August 2006

By Jeff A. Taylor

The very day the CMS Task Force released its long awaited, $500,000 report on what CMS should do – by far the most in-depth, outside study of CMS, ever – I said one of the major obstacles to its recommendations would be the magnet moms. Little did I know that opposition would, a few months later, morph into the entire editorial establishment of the Uptown paper of record.

To recap, the Task Force strongly proposed that CMS end its partial magnet program and replace it with a real magnet program. The partial magnet regime is another old CMS idea that focuses primarily on seeding white faces amongst black and brown faces. It is an artifact of racial bean-counting and serves only to mask deep problems with the basic educational program while assuaging, anesthetizing really, white liberal guilty over a faulty public school system.

Sure enough, almost immediately magnet mom Pam Grundy and defenders of the current CMS status quo mobilized to block any change in CMS policy. They, along with various other anti-change agents, have been smashingly successful in blunting any momentum for change the Task Force report might have generated. At this point, the Task Force might as well have never existed. And now, for the past two days, The Charlotte Observer has given Pam Grundy two huge, front-page platforms for her partial magnet advocacy. The Task Force’s opposition to partial magnets wins a brief, vague, and contested mention in this sprawling hagiography for Grundy:

The author and former Davidson College lecturer has become one of the most vocal critics of a business-backed task force pushing CMS reforms. She says the proposals are aimed too much at middle-class parents.

Not true, but there you have it. So much for the big picture from the Observer.

Here’s what the Task Force said:

We recommend that CMS discontinue its strategy of “partial” magnets in favor of accelerating the development of robust, full alternatives as a vehicle for fostering increased racial/socio-economic diversity for those who value it. Under the direction of an Area Superintendent, diversity and choice should be addressed through a system of choice schools expanded to include schools run by external providers and schools operated with community partners.

A new magnet program would be part of the much bigger alternative choice system CMS would set up that would, in effect, compete with CMS. It would also be part of the move to reduce the “operational role” of the Ed Center in day-to-day education and officially take the broader system out of the racial diversity business. High-performing schools would also be freed of Walton Plaza’s toxic grip as the focus would shift to results, not bureaucracy, busy work, blame shifting, and political lobbying.

As is plain, these suggestions would doom the CMS status quo. Kill it dead. No wonder then the Old Regime has fought back as if its life depended on it. It does. And the old guard is winning.

Ordering the best teachers into the worst schools. Partial magnets to bleed off discontent with the system while enshrining racial diversity as the primary mission of CMS even if that means trapping thousands of kids in bad schools. These are the “new” ideas we have in 2006 to save CMS.

Busing kids two hours a day to meet racial quotas must be up next month.