Making Democracy Work

A Call to Action

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President's Request to CMS Board for Equity Committee

President's Request for Equity Committee - Presented at 12/11/18 CMS Board Meeting:

December 11, 2018 "Dear Ladies and Gentlemen of the Board,

As you know the League of Women Voters Charlotte Mecklenburg supports a strong public education system as an essential element of a viable democracy. Unfortunately, we know from the district's own Breaking the Link analysis that there are inequities present as evidenced by significant gaps in student achievement among our student populations. We know that Superintendent Wilcox and his staff are working to close those gaps and provide quality education for all the children in the district, no matter where they live. We want to support those efforts.

That is why we urge you to establish an Equity Committee now to serve in an advisory capacity and to act as a conduit for accountability and transparency. The work of this committee is not to tell the Supt. and his staff how to do their jobs, but it is the work of the committee to act in collaboration with the CMS Board to provide community input and to shine a light on the district's progress toward meeting their equity goals.

The League's Education Committee has met individually with almost all of you, and you have voiced your support for an Equity Committee. We have previously presented a viable proposal to the Board for the composition, goals, and functioning of just such a committee. Carol Sawyer has presented two other viable proposals to the Equity Policy Committee. Do not delay! Now is the time to take action by establishing a community-based Equity Committee that can provide different perspectives and resources to address the equity issues with which the district is confronted and support the work of our Superintendent and his staff.

By taking action NOW to establish an Equity Committee, the Board will take a necessary and significant step in addressing some of the issues identified not only in Breaking the Link, but also highlighted in the work of the Opportunity Task Force. Do not delay! It is time to move forward."

Thank you.

A Working FEAT Meeting

The holidays are in full swing and we are all busy but here's a quick overview of what we are up to: Our goal is to implement the Reasonable Redistricting Reform (RRR) plan that was presented at the Workshop in August. Research illuminated 5 principles that have worked in jurisdictions around the country that are working on redistricting reform. We are using these principles as the foundation of our plan because asking the current legislature to adopt 5 reasonable principles is more likely to win their support, rather than presenting them with a finished product which they had little or no say in creating. To do this, we plan to reach out to community/business/faith, etc. leaders to enlist their support. We asked the workshop attendees to list any community contacts they may have who might be influential in the Charlotte region. The response was gratifying and we have been working with the NC FEAT to hone our outreach strategy. We have created a spreadsheet of all of the contacts that the attendees provided and the next step is to send out a "mail merge" to introduce these potential supporters to the RRR plan and request a short, 15 minute meeting with them so that we can share more about our efforts and ask them to sign our endorsement forms.

Our FEAT Team is meeting on Thurs., January 10, 2019 at 6 pm at the LWVCM office (1817 Central Ave., Room 210) to address and stuff envelopes. Please join us if you can-these are exciting times and we have a chance to make a real difference.

Debbie Snowdon, Chair, LWVCM FEAT


March with us in the 6th Annual Pride Parade

We are asking all our members to join our League as we march in the 6th annual Bank of America Charlotte Pride Parade on Sunday, Aug. 19. The parade begins at 1:00pm but plan no meeting us earlier so that we can participate as a group.

This is the perfect opportunity to be out in the community fulfilling our core mission + to GET OUT THE VOTE!!

Contact Debbie at if you plan to march with us for specifics on where to meet.

The Parade is part of the two-day Charlotte Pride Festival, Saturday, Aug. 18 and Sunday, Aug. 19. General info about the parade can be found at

Education Action Team Statement

Tom Bowers of the Education Action Team provided the following statement regarding the CMS Budget before the Mecklenburg County Commission meeting:

We appreciate the important synergy that exists between CMS, who develop and present a strong budget plan and the Commission, which must ensure careful oversight of the CMS budget. It is clear that both groups take their responsibilities seriously and conduct themselves with integrity and mutual respect.

The League of Women Voters has always supported strong public education. Our Charlotte-Mecklenburg League has been closely following the new CMS student assignment plan and bond referendum. We witness the educational challenges our community faces and the great legacy and successes we enjoy.

Members of the League urge your full support for the bond issue to build, replace and renovate much needed schools throughout the county because it will provide facilities that now serve almost twice the students for which a building was built. This results in aging mobile units, overburdened cafeterias, inadequate restrooms and no space for special classes.

These capital expenditures will also expand access to the district's planned magnet programs.

The League strongly urges you to approve the proposed expenditure to wipe out the waiting list of four and five-year-olds for the child care subsidy program. Study after study confirms the value of pre-K education for all children. You will recall that the Opportunity Task Force said,

"A child's earliest years have a profound and often lasting impact on his or her school success, career success, and adult life. Early care and education in particular pose opportunities for substantial long-term benefits to both children and the general public."

Chicago and Michigan studies* show that investments in early education return $7 to $16 for every dollar spent by reducing costs of remedial education, criminal justice, and welfare while increasing worker skills, income levels and economic productivity,

The budget proposal for early childhood education to serve all four and five-year-olds is a welcome start, and we urge your approval.

Important funding is still needed to complete the CMS plan for meeting the social and emotional needs of our students. $4.5 million is requested to provide an additional 42 counselors, 6 psychologists and 12 social workers. Physical and social needs must be met before a teacher can teach and a child can learn.

A caring community funds that commitment. We trust that as caring stewards you will support these vital programs that build the foundation for all of our futures. Thank You all!

  • The Chicago Child Parent Centers (CPCs) were similar to current state Pre-K programs in design and cost. The Chicago Longitudinal Study reported a $7.14 to $1 benefit-cost ratio. The High/Scope Perry Preschool Program that operated in the Ypsilanti, Michigan school district has been estimated to have a benefit to cost ratio of 16:1 over 40 years.

Proposed Constitutional Amendment is Bad Revenue Policy

Pat formulas for county-level funding of education and for the state budget could have potentially disastrous results when it comes to bold action to improve education for all students. It wouldn't be possible to fund new initiatives, deal with emergencies or even keep up with population growth.

Most of the County Commission has so far wisely rejected a proposal to set a pat formula for local funds allocated to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools.

The NC Senate, however, continues to push for a constitutional amendment to set restrictive formulas for income tax rates and budget expenditures. The latest push for an amendment, SB817, caps the income tax rate at 5.5%, leaving out the restrictive expenditure formula found in last year's version, but would have the same effect on the state budget.

Funding--or failure to adequately fund--public education has short and long-term consequences which greatly impact other costs at the state and local level, from social services to public safety. Fiscal responsibility demands that we weigh how failure to educate our most vulnerable four-year-olds impacts future welfare costs. Those governing need to consider how failure to teach our elementary students to read impacts the future prison population.

It is the job of our representatives in the NC Senate and House to do a cost-benefit analysis by evaluating how the use of tax revenue can be used to uplift Mecklenburg and North Carolina in the long-term. We need thoughtful representatives, not illusive formulas that can be used as political cover for not doing the right thing.

Formulas do not adjust to real circumstances. Aging buildings, unbridled growth, an increasing number of high-needs students are real problems that must be addressed now, or more students will suffer and fail. Post-recession adjustments have not been made to education funding so the state will continue to fall behind. We can no longer compete for teachers with neighboring South Carolina. Yet the state provides less per-pupil funding than before the recession.

The Constitution mandates a "sound public education" but the Legislature seems focused on using education money to expand the program of vouchers for private schools and to increase for-profit charter schools. Under pat formulas for taxing and expenditures, the public schools will lose out.

The League of Women Voters believes that formulas should not replace leadership. Instead, we call on our elected representatives to lead by creating thoughtful solutions to difficult problems to meet our Constitutional and moral commitment to our children.

Medicaid Expansion

North Carolina's current Medicaid program covers only 30% of low income North Carolinians. This leaves 300,00-500,000 people in NC "In the Coverage Gap" which means they are too poor to qualify for subsidies on the Affordable Care Act Marketplace but do not fit into one of the limited eligibility categories for NC Medicaid. Being desperately poor isn't enough in NC to get health coverage. We need to change this. Join us in our Close the Coverage Gap Campaign! Opportunities for advocacy include:

  • Contact Governor Cooper and request that NC expand Medicaid. (919) 814-2000

  • Write your state representative and senator. Updated talking points will be available soon.

  • Help organize an informational session with community groups.

  • Give a presentation to your faith, neighborhood, or work networks.

  • Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper.