Students Lead First Field Campaign Effort in CMS School Board Race - SFER Action Network

Students Lead First Field Campaign Effort in CMS School Board Race


Last night we learned that Students for Education Reform Action Network (SFER Action Network)-endorsed candidate, Jess Miller, lost in her race to unseat incumbent Rhonda Lennon in the District 1 school board election.

Jess Miller was a teacher for more than 12 years and has been a strong advocate for student voice in community decisions. We’re proud to have endorsed her as a candidate who believes every neighborhood deserves a great school option and that our schools’ curriculum should reflect the strengths and contributions of our diverse and growing community.

We congratulate Rhonda and look forward to working with her and the rest of the board to ensure the district prioritizes EQUITY as we move forward with major board initiatives like the student reassignment plan.

Undocumented students, low-income families, and students of color have been deprioritized in CMS for too long, and we're proud to be raising the profile of school board races and giving voice to concerns students and families have long held.

SFER Action Network led the first ever field canvass effort in a Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) board race, and we're proud to say our students and community volunteers contacted 5,500 voters in District 1, knocking on more than 25,000 doors and making 3,600 phone calls to inform voters about the upcoming election and to identify support for Jess Miller.

It requires a robust training and field program to pull off such an impressive campaign. SFER Action Network trained 34 students this summer—half of which are the first in their families to attend college, 75% of whom attend college in North Carolina, and almost all of whom identify as students of color who attended public schools in Charlotte.

We trained on critical grassroots organizing skills that they can use on campus to mobilize students on issues they care about, in addition to electoral campaign skills that prepare them to lead their own high-impact field canvass in the future. These students WILL lead the next progressive wave of politics in Charlotte and wherever else their careers take them. 

We also thank our many friends, donors and supporters who made this work possible—from donating office space, to leading student trainings on issues like school bonds, to facilitating direct action workshops. These contributions directly provide our members with the tools they need to demand change that aligns with their experiences in CMS schools.

A special shout out to:

  • Amy Chiou, Executive Director of Queen City

  • Laura Clark, Chief Impact Officer at United Way of Central Carolinas

  • Charles Thomas, Program Director at Knight Foundation

  • Greg Schermbeck, Entrepreneur, and consultant of Schermbeck Consulting

  • Dimple Ajmera, City Council Candidate At Large

  • Jason Tuttle, Principal at Nova Capital Partners

Join us in partnering with our students to elect leaders who reflect our values. Our city is changing rapidly, and we need schools that can adapt at the same pace.  

With a full heart and much gratitude,

Kayla Romero

Managing Director of Organizing, North Carolina