Editor’s note: Jennifer De La Jara, an at-large member on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, advocated for county commissioners to fully fund the school district during a public hearing on the fiscal year 2021-22 budget.
I come before you this evening with a heavy heart. Earlier today I attended the funeral of two of our precious CMS students – two teenage girls who were tragically shot in their home on Christmas Eve.
I mention this because it is a sobering reminder of the many challenges that our community’s children continue to face.
Domestic violence, lack of access to health care including mental health services, housing instability, the societal implications of this pandemic and of course, the inability to end inter-generational poverty and create true economic mobility.
I find it interesting that just last month five area CEOs spoke in a virtual meeting about upward mobility and the stigma attached to Mecklenburg County. Unfortunately, they didn’t mention the vital role that a strong K-12 public education system plays as a remedy. Yes, there was talk of investment in our area nonprofits to assist underprivileged children, but no discussion of rallying around what has the potential to be a great equalizer in our society – public education.
So I’m here today, not on behalf of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, but as an individual resident of Mecklenburg County to call on all of our leaders to shift their thinking.
While I’m grateful for our nonprofit partners, our schools need to be fully funded at the federal, state and local levels so that direct services can be provided.
Let’s shift our thinking first in our own community. Let’s commit to fully investing in the educational endeavors of our county students both inside schools and outside of school time
In a world where 50% of the CMS student body lives below the poverty line, social-emotional supports and access to rigorous coursework that leads to a meaningful career or higher education have never been more important.
If we want upward mobility, if we want Mecklenburg County to attract and retain talent, then let’s start by putting our young scholars first. Thank you and thank you for your service to the commission.