CMS fires superintendent? Parents, students and teachers react


Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Superintendent Ernst Winston at Crestdale High School in Matthews on Monday, February 22, 2021.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Superintendent Ernst Winston at Crestdale High School in Matthews on Monday, February 22, 2021.

Photo of the observer file

Parents, students and teachers weighed in on Monday the news that Charlotte-Mecklenburg school principal Ernest Winston is leaving.

A school board will meet on Tuesday to vote to terminate Winston’s contract, a source close to the talks told The Charlotte Observer. The meeting will take place at 12:30 in the chamber hall of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Government Center and will be open to the public. Early Monday, the school board told Winston that “separation was the best way forward,” a source said.

“Just when this school year for students can’t get more crazy and frustrating, BOE is trying to kick out Winston’s superintendent,” said Milk Thompson, a sophomore at West Charlotte High School. “I’m starting to think it’s more political than focusing on students’ educational outcomes. I hope for change. “

Shortly after the news broke, Winston tweeted former President Barack Obama: “There will be no change if we wait for another person or another time. We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the change we are looking for. ”

Time is up

Former coach and boys basketball coach Harding High Johnson, 34, said he was not surprised by Winston’s quick dismissal.

“I feel it will be,” said Johnson, who also worked at Butler High School. “When he was hired, I was a fan of hiring, but it’s a shame his time was up before he did everything.”

Johnson is leaving CMS after 10 years to work as a teacher in South Carolina this fall. Johnson said Winston, like many of the superintendents he worked under, hadn’t made enough changes.

“Hopefully,” Johnson said, “if this next hire is done, this person won’t be repeating the same picture I saw, revolving doors with the same problems, all the way from top to bottom. And it will continue to be such a cycle if the main, but still serious problems are not solved. “

Johnson said these problems include a lack of justice among schools and a lack of support from teachers, both emotionally and financially.

“Being in class, we just don’t get enough compensation for what we’re asked to do,” Johnson said. “In the classroom and beyond, the work requirements do not match the pay.”

West Charlotte’s father William Bullard, whose son is a sophomore, said the superintendent’s work has never been defined well enough. He said it is difficult for the public to assess how well a person is doing his job.

But Bullard said he was not surprised by Winston’s quick dismissal.

“When we get back,” Bullard said, “he wasn’t the guy they wanted.” I remember they went through a lot of people before deciding on it. I think they got the body, but I don’t know how much (Winston) has control over all these individual schools unless they make a call that affects every school. But if you are the main character and everything happens on your watch, you will be held accountable. But from his position, how can he control, say, what Myers Park does or doesn’t do if he doesn’t deal with these situations directly? ”

Bullard said the next superintendent should have clear expectations. And he said the school board should choose wisely.

“I’m a manager myself,” Bullard said, “and you’re a reflection of the people you hire.” If you continue to attract candidates who do not work, do you choose the wrong candidates or do not set expectations? … Something needs to change. “

“Life expectancy about four years”

Gary Richmond grew up as a student at CMS and for 29 years worked as a full-time teacher. He was working with Winston when the superintendent entered the system at Vance’s old high school. Richmond was a substitute teacher after retiring five years ago.

“Superintendents,” Richmond said, “have a life expectancy of about four years, and that’s in any urban school system across America. This is not unique to Charlotte. Second, there is no textbook on pandemics. You are guided by science or the available science that exists and try to use best practices that use other systems.

“And third, the whole school year was a big shortage of teachers, and it’s not his fault. If nothing else, it is the fault of the legislature that there were no education-oriented programs that encouraged students to want to go into education and end up paying real benefits. But you can’t blame Ernest for any of these things. “

Richmond said what happened had to happen with low scores on tests, weapons brought to campus and a host of other problems that have arisen over the past two years.

“It’s a results-oriented business,” he said. “That’s what the school board is looking for.”

“Completely reasonable measure”

Richmond said Winston would not be the only head of a major school to lose his job at least in part because of the pandemic. But he worries about how many CMS executives have hired recently. If Winston resigns or is fired, CMS will be looking for its seventh head since 2011.

“It’s definitely too much,” Richmond said. “It’s almost like a sport when you have an impatient host who doesn’t want to give the coach enough time to implement his culture, and the CMS is unique in that it’s a very diverse school system, and it seems when you pay attention to one demographic too much, other demographics feel they lack attention. ”

Aidan Finel, a junior at Myers Park High and a student, a member of the Title IX task force that Winston set up in the fall, said it was time for a new head.

“It’s a perfectly reasonable measure to take,” Finel said. “(Winston) was irresponsible about Title IX in the county in all respects, as well as the decisions made regarding transparent backpacks. Its potential removal from the district is the best solution for students and society. “

Brooke Weiss, father of CMS and chairman of Moms for Liberty in Mecklenburg, agreed.

“Mothers for Freedom – Mecklenburg has been in favor of a change of leadership since last spring,” Weiss said. “It is out of time for the new head. The Board of Education needs to move this process forward quickly so that the new head, who will focus on improving student performance and safety in schools, can get started. ”

The CMS teacher, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, said she was not surprised or worried about the new head.

“I read the news on Instagram and thought, ‘Hmm, sounds fine,’ and kept scrolling,” she said. “I’m sixth in CMS at the same school. I am the third director and possibly the fourth head. I finished trying to understand all the leadership policies. I will continue to do my best to benefit the children in my class, as well as to teach and love them well. ”

Charlotte Mecklenburg School Superintendent Ernest Winston on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 Jeff Siner

This story was originally published April 18, 2022 6:58 p.m.

CMS fires superintendent? Parents, students and teachers react

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