Two first-time candidates seek District 3 seat on CMS School Board | WFAE 90.7

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Two first-time candidates, Steven Rushing and Gregory “Dee” Rankin, are competing to fill the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board District 3 seat vacated by Ruby Jones.

The district covers northeast Charlotte.

Rankin has a higher public profile. He is a native of Charlotte and a current relative of CMS. He has taught at CMS, charter and private schools. He runs a youth development program called Future LEADERS and has a record of civic activism: former chair of the Mayor’s Mentoring Alliance, former chair of the Black Political Caucus Education Committee and current member of the CMS Equity Committee.

Rushing came to Charlotte in 2005. He’s a CMS parent who runs a transportation service that takes students to and from charter schools that don’t offer buses. He and his wife also do marriage counseling.

Rushing is the only Latino candidate in the race this year.

“My mom was from Panama, my dad was from here in the States,” he said. “I am bilingual.”

Hispanic students make up nearly 30% of CMS’s student body. But only about 7% of registered voters in the majority-black District 3 identified as Hispanic.

In an interview with the local branch of the NAACP, Rushing said he wanted to stand up for Spanish-speaking families.

“There is no bilingual access for a lot of parents in my district because a lot of parents are fluent in Spanish but not English,” he said. That can leave schools relying on students to translate for their parents and teachers, he said.

Rushing says he also wants to provide better support for teachers, though he’s still trying to figure out how.

Rankin: Too much freedom and flexibility

Gregory

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Gregory “Dee” Rankin

Rankin has attended countless board and committee meetings of the CMS. He can cite the goofy details when speaking to the Mecklenburg Democrats’ African American caucus about his lobbying to revise the board’s disciplinary policy to allow parents to appeal short-term suspensions.

When Rankin talks about underperforming schools, he says CMS’s leadership culture has strayed too far from consistency.

“There needs to be standards set throughout the district,” Rankin said. “Freedom and flexibility is what has created this dilemma that we find ourselves in. … you can have two schools in the same district doing two different things and getting two radically different results.”

Rankin says the board must also set standards for anyone hired as a permanent superintendent.

“It’s almost the superintendent who controls the board or directs it. And I think it should be the other way around,” Rankin said.

Rushing: Competition and outsourcing

Rushing says he thinks competition is the key to uplifting underperforming schools.

“So create some kind of programs that allow more competition between kids and teachers. And that way they really give, like, pride to their school,” he said in an interview with the local NAACP. “They can bring it out with a trophy program, an awards ceremony, something like that. But I think the competition will engender the ability of people to want to push themselves and to push themselves to do better and to do more. . “

Steven rushing

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Steven rushing

Rushing also told the NAACP that outsourcing some transportation to companies like the one he runs could be the solution to CMS bus driver shortages.

“We should try to see an outside source, create some sort of program where it’s like an Uber-based system, but for schools,” he said.

Nearly 60% of registered voters in District 3 are Democrats, as are both candidates.

Rankin has been campaigning since the start of 2021 and has been endorsed by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Educators’ Association, the Democratic Party’s African American Caucus and the Black Political Caucus.

Rushing has no endorsement and says most of the conversations he’s had so far are about the Latino community.

“I don’t have a website. I do it all out of pocket, I haven’t really asked anyone to fund me or anything like that,” Rushing said.

Look at the candidates

Here are links to archived candidate interviews and forums:

Black Political Caucus Forum with the candidates of constituencies 1, 2 and 3.

Black Political Caucus Forum with the candidates of constituencies 4, 5 and 6.

African American Caucus/Forum of Mecklenburg Democrats with candidates in districts 1, 2 and 3.

African American Caucus/Forum of Mecklenburg Democrats with candidates in districts 4, 5 and 6.

NAACP Interviews with the candidates of constituency 1.

NAACP Interviews with the candidates of constituency 2.

NAACP Interviews with the candidates of constituency 3.

NAACP Interviews with candidates from District 4.

NAACP Interviews with candidates from District 5.

NAACP Interviews with candidates from District 6.

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