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.