Wednesday, December 14, 2011

CMS board's new leadership is not so novel

Hi there. Welcome to O-Pinion, the Observer editorial board's blog. I'm associate editor Fannie Flono, your host for today.

There's a lot of buzz locally on the leadership change for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board. Newly-elected at-large board members Ericka Ellis-Stewart and Mary McCray were voted in by colleagues on the nine-member board as chair and vice-chair of the board. They made a little history but not in the way many might think.

This is not the first time a first-time politician has been chair. Eric Davis, who Ellis-Stewart replaced, was a novice too. It's not the first time two African Americans have been chair and vice chair. Arthur Griffin and Wilhelmenia Rembert did so more than a decade ago. And neither McCray nor Ellis-Stewart is the first woman or African American - or African American women - to hold their posts.

Phillip O. Berry was the first African American to chair the board. Winthrop University's Rembert was the first African American woman to be vice chair and later to become chair.

The two aren't even the first two women to hold the both leadership roles in the same year. That happened in 2002 when Rembert and board member Louise Woods were chair and vice chair respectively.

So what's the history? They are the first two African American women to hold both leadership roles at the same time.

The vote for Ellis-Stewart and McCray follows a tradition in Mecklenburg politics where the general election's top vote-getters of the majority party are usually elected by their peers to lead the body. That's one reason so many people were irked by Democrat Harold Cogdell last week when he ousted fellow Democrat Jennifer Roberts who was the top vote-getter for the majority party for the Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners.

The CMS board has broken with tradition in the past, most recently with Eric Davis' elevation to board chair. And it wasn't clear until late Tuesday what would rule the day this year either. Board members were in talks and undecided for most of the day. But in the end they came out publicly unified behind Ellis-Stewart and McCray in an 8-0 vote (Tim Morgan's District 6 seat is vacant since he was elected to an at-large seat in November.) Such unity was not on display back in 2002 when Rembert and Woods were elected to lead the board. They got a bare majority of five votes.

Hopefully, the unified vote Tuesday night signals that this CMS board will work cooperatively with each other to tackle the serious challenges facing the schools.

11 comments:

cmsparent2010 said...

The vote Tuesday will insure that the Board continues to spend most of it's time money and resources on a fraction of the student body. I will never see how it is anyone but the parents fault that two groups of children can't be put together and not have gang fights. Well, I take that back, it is also the Board's fault for allowing those type children to continue in school. Clearly, mom never taught them the value of an education.

misswhit said...

Fannie, You forgot to mention that John Lassiter, at large member for many years, was routinely shut out of the chairman post despite being the board's top vote getter (remember, this is supposed to be a non-partisan board so party shouldn't matter). And as I recall only once or twice was he voted vice-chair. I know that when Arthur and Dr. Rembert were chair and vice chair he was shut out (while still being either first or second vote getter) and that happened again when Louise was voted vice chair--I believe that was in retaliation for his having supported an opponent of hers in the district elections. I always wondered why The Observer did not speak out against party politics on the school board (of course the politics in play favor the party favored by the editorial board so I don't really wonder why).

Wiley Coyote said...

Fannie,

Your 9 paragraph apologetic rant is accepted and noted....

DistrictSix said...

It is anointed and approved by the Observer.

todd said...

Who will the blacks blame now if they continue bringing up the rear in education test scores, graduation rates, etc...

Skippy said...

White flight, welcome to Charlotte.

Dachcafe said...

Hey Todd, "the blacks" will blame their favorite girl, your mama!

todd said...

For what douchecafe, not paying more taxes than you ever thought about paying?

Bussta Brown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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