End the Student Achievement Gap
- Hire a more diverse, highly qualified teaching staff so that all of our students can benefit from having teachers that look like them. Studies prove that having a teacher of the same race/gender as the student at an early age greatly increases the likelihood that a student will graduate on time and go to college. We must work with legislators to strengthen programs such as the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program and the North Carolina Teaching Fellows Programs, as well as applying for Federal Grants that support training teachers.
- Bring back year-round academic intervention and support services for at-risk K-8 students. My opponent helped end summertime academic intervention for K-8 students in 1998 when she was chair of the Board of Education. This was a huge mistake. Studies have repeatedly shown that summer learning loss is a real problem. Rather than receiving immediate academic intervention, the students who need help most are being sent on a 3 month vacation. We must step up and provide quality, year-round support to the students who need it most, when they need it most. We must stop failing our kids up to the next grade!
- Eliminate the school-to prison pipeline. Stop suspending children for Level I offenses such as tardiness, unauthorized use of electronics, and inappropriate dress, and clarify disciplinary procedure to eliminate risk of implicit bias and counterproductive out-of-school suspensions. In Wake County, Black students are 7.8 times more likely to be suspended than white students for the same actions. Out-of-School suspensions should be reserved for only the most egregious offenses. Expand use of diversionary programs like Teen Court for at-risk youth who exhibit violent or unlawful behavior during school, and surround them with positive support services to reinforce good behavior.
- Ensure access to the basics (food, health, school supplies, and other community support services) for low-income and underprivileged families and students. Every school needs a food pantry, and all students deserve access to counselors, nurses, and other support staff who can help identify serious issues before they interfere with student achievement. Nobody can learn if they don’t have access to the basics, or if they are worried about problems at home. We must provide for our community.
- Provide Universal Pre-K for all children in Wake County. Period. Every child deserve access to early education, and we must make sure that every child gets the head start they deserve, regardless of the cost.
- Ensure equal and equitable access to resources and programs for all school and students. Every student deserves access to special academic and extracurricular programs, and some students need extra help and attention. We must give every child and school access to the tools and services required to produce the best possible outcomes.
Build 21st Century Schools
- Build better schools that can stand the test of time. Wake County is set to demolish and rebuild East Wake Middle School for well over $100 million, even though the school is only 29 years old. Meanwhile, other schools have been waiting for necessary renovations for years, compounding problems by not addressing them immediately. Just ask the students at West Millbrook Middle School, where the 6th grade wing floods regularly with sewage water from backed up pipes, forcing students to relocate to a safe learning environment elsewhere on campus. Broughton High School was built in 1929 and remains a flagship school in Wake County. We CAN and we MUST stop wasting millions of dollars on construction projects that don’t last.
- Expand access to Pre-K programs, magnet schools, Academically Gifted, world language immersion schools, STEM schools, alternative learning services, and other programs that encourage students to expand their skillsets and hone in on their interests. We have so many great programs in Wake County, but not enough space to accommodate student need. All students deserve access to targeted, alternative learning programs, not just the lucky few who currently have access.
- Empower schools to make immediate and sweeping changes as necessary. The Restart program currently allows schools to make such changes, but only after the school receives a failing grade for 2 consecutive years. Allowing every school to access the Restart program allows Wake County Public Schools to compete with their private and charter school counterparts. This is a vital tool that we must provide to our schools if they are to remain strong and competitive in the 21st century.
- Update our curriculum to include an emphasis on STEM and the intersection of math, science, engineering, and technology. We must emphasize civics and ensure that we are producing quality, well-informed citizens, focus on critical thinking and communication, especially writing and speaking, and renew our dedication to the creative arts, while also incorporating more practical topics teaching children about our food supply chain, how to manage their finances, and helping them develop emotional intelligence.
Be a Strong Voice For Teachers
- Elevate the voice of educators, administrators, and support staff in the policy-making process. Every school board member should form their own Staff Advisory Council and consult with their council and other community members before making important decisions that affect the school system.
- Advocate for fully funded classrooms by forming a coalition with other local school boards statewide and taking our complaints to the North Carolina General Assembly to lobby our state representatives directly. Instead of proposing shoe-string, bare bones budgets every year, we must work with leaders from the Wake County Board of Commissioners to pressure our General Assembly to fully fund our school system.
- Start treating teachers like respected professionals again. Restore longevity pay and tenure, encourage professional growth and development, and stop giving grades to teachers and schools based solely on unreliable analytics. The state pays SAS huge sums to employ its analytical tools (originally used for farming) to grade our schools and teachers, yet SAS refuses to share how the grades are calculated. That’s because the data is unreliable and doesn’t have value if the public knows it. Wake County should not rely on this information and should lobby the State Government to stop wasting money on such frivolousness. Instead we should ensure we are collecting longitudinal data that helps us make informed policy decisions.
- Invest in professional development and continuing education. Reward professional growth! Teachers shouldn’t be forced to use sick days to attend professional workshops and conferences. If we want high quality teachers, we have to continually invest in them.