Christine Kushner (D)

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Age: 48
Occupation: Freelance Writer and Consultant

How long have you lived in Wake County?

21 years (but out of county in 1995-96)

Do you have children in the district?

One at Ligon Mid­dle School, one in a high school out of the district.

Why have you decided to run for office?

I’ve been a community volunteer since I moved to Wake County, involved in public issues. When my son entered kindergarten, I volunteered in the class­room. I’ve done things with PTA. I’ve also got­ten involved with school improvement plans at the school level working with teachers as a parent to im­prove the school. I’ve been on the superintendent’s parent advisory commit­tee. I have a master’s in pub­lic policy and have been in­terested professionally now in health care policy and as a volunteer in education policy. So it’s been an inter­est of mine for a long time, and it just seemed a logical next step.

What are the three biggest issues you think the Wake County Public School System faces? In 30 seconds or less, how would you address those issues?

The first big issue is stu­dent assignment. That’s clearly on the front burn­er now. I want to work with fellow board mem­bers to have a sustainable student assignment plan that’s transparent and fair to families.

A second issue is cur­riculum. I think we need high expectations for all students in Wake County. That’s a strategy to reduce the achievement gap. It’s a way to have greater profi­ciency and growth for all students. We need to focus on rigor in the classroom and academic enrichment. We need to go further and make sure middle school students have vibrant pro­grams in all middle schools in Wake County.

The third thing is the bond. In the next four years we will be facing the development of the next bond referendum for growth and for greater school capacity.

What do you think are the best and worst decisions the current school board has made?

Best: The best decision has been their work on middle school advanced math placement. Because I strongly support fo­cusing on middle school education as a means of getting kids to enter high school ready to graduate on time. We need to make sure it’s not just in math.

Worst: I think the han­dling of the student as­signment policy was … a piecemeal approa ch that has led some schools to be over­e n r o l l e d and some u n d e r – enro l led, failing to achieve bal­ance in our s c h o o l s . That’s why I think it’s important to have a com­prehensive plan.

What do you think is the most important issue facing your district, and how do you plan to address it?

In District 6, the big is­sues of capacity and pro­gramming curriculum. There are many schools in District 6 that are not op­timally enrolled. I think the superintendent with this budget has taken a great first step in address­ing those issues with the small school program, the STEM and Global Studies program. Those programs are important to District 6 because that helps those schools fulfill a need for the whole system.

What do you think WCPSS should do to address the achievement gap?

One of the first things is that we have to set high ex­pectations for all students across the board, across grades and achievement, that we make sure kids are in the proper classes, that classes have rigor, that our teachers expect proficiency from all students and de­mand profi­ciency from all students. I’ve talked about a cul­ture of at­t endanc e that I think as a com­munity, as a district, we need to focus on so that s t u d e n t s want to come to school and are en­gaged in the classroom and that they have an engaged teacher in the classroom.

What are your ideas for measuring and improving teacher and student effectiveness in WCPSS?

I think looking at multi­ple measures, not just a sin­gle measure. One is proof of student learning, wheth­er it’s EVAAS or whatever the district settles on. Sec­ondly, I think the Na­tional Board Certification for Teachers is an impor­tant credential that now is being used for teachers. I think that shows teachers are improving their skills. e have to make sure that is carefully crafted so it’s not a popularity contest, but student evaluations can tell us whether teachers have good classroom man­agement skills and wheth­er teachers have rigor in the classroom.

Do you support merit pay for teachers? Why or why not?

I would like to know more about how it would be implemented. I would be supportive of a system that equally rewards effec­tive teachers, that enhanc­es teachers’ stature and is motivating teachers to im­prove and do a good job.

How do you think WCPSS should attract more minority teachers?

I think we have resourc­es here in North Carolina that we can recruit from if we want to recruit minor­ity teachers. Wake County is a wonderful place to live, and it should be easy for us to recruit teachers for our workforce. We have a lot in place that should be conducive to recruiting the best teachers in the state.

How do you feel about the new student assignment plan that’s shaping up?

One issue in District 6 is that a lot of families and neighborhoods are very pleased with their base as­signment, so I think that is a concern in District 6 that we make sure the grand­fathering is in there, that siblings remain. I would like those preferences to be part of the algorithm of any choice plan. I think the staff is very earnest in its attempts to make a sus­tainable plan for student assignment, and I would hope that we see a plan that does follow through with putting academic suc­cess for all students as the top priority.

How do charter schools fit in to your conception of a healthy school district?

I am very supportive of charter schools fulfilling their mission as incubators of innovation. That was the purpose of charters, and that’s the role they should play to show other public schools innovative ways of teaching.

How would you ad­dress the issue of student discipline?

I am in favor of some of the proposals that have been put forward in the recent changes to student discipline. Our suspension rate has been too high in the past. I’d like for us at the elementary school level to think through positive behavior support. Is a sys­tem that is working?

What would you do to ensure that WCPSS has the funding to educate its students adequately?

First, we need a board that advocates for greater funding for the school sys­tem. We need to work with our county commissioners to get greater resources.

What was your favorite subject in school?

English and writing. Writing was my passion in school.

One thought on “Christine Kushner (D)

  1. If these responses were personally written by this candidate who states English and “writing ….my passion in school” were her favorite subjects, many of the answers are vague at best. How much “rigor” can we get in a classroom? And she wants more funding for the school system–the usual Democrat/socialist response rather that learning to live within a budget. In discipline she wants the school district to think “through a positive behavior support.” so no one has done this in the past? These educational professionals? She wants a system that ‘equally rewards effective teachers’, WHATEVER THAT MEANS AND SHE HAS NO POINTS ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH THOSE WHO ARE POOR TEACHERS OR EVEN ON HOW TO DETERMINE WHO THE POOR TEACHERS ARE.

    THIS IS NOT WHAT WAKE COUNTY NEEDS! Back to the same ole same ole thing!