Hundreds of local parents are taking a stand against proposed educational reforms introduced this week in Raleigh. Supporters of the bill call it "a positive change," but others worry it will do more harm than good.
Laurie Smithwick was one of the first parents to sign the petition in protest of proposed changes to North Carolina schools. Her two daughters are in the fifth grade at a CMS school, and she worries the focus on standardized testing will increase.
"The teachers can't help but teach for the test; there's nothing else they can do," Smithwick said.
The grassroots organization Mecklenburg Acts started the petition after state lawmakers unveiled measures to hold schools and teachers more accountable. Senate Bill 361, named the Excellent Public Schools Act of 2013, would give letter grades to schools based on state test results, develop a "pay for excellence" system to reward teachers and eliminate teacher tenure.
Sponsor and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger said, "This bill will ensure our students receive instruction from the most highly motivated and effective teachers and are equipped with a strong skill set that prepares them for the future."
Former CMS school board member Louise Woods strongly disagrees, saying the legislation will unfairly evaluate schools and harm public education.
"It narrows the curriculum. It takes way too much time from the student's learning," Woods said.
Supporters and opponents told Eyewitness News the bill has a likelihood of passing. But in the meantime, Smithwick hopes the signatures collected on the petition send a message to lawmakers.
"Every new step that gets made like this toward more testing and less teaching is a step in the wrong direction," she said.