Like many families, my wife and I moved to the area for two reasons. One was the quality of the schools. The other was to be part of the active, compassionate and caring communities of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. Our strong schools benefit our community, and our strong community benefits our schools. However, our community and our schools aren’t working together as closely as they could be. There are great intentions, but missed opportunities.
Our schools are challenged to provide better outcomes to all students in the face of declining resources. To close the achievement gap and ensure that every student receives an excellent education, we need to address several challenges:
1. Foster and maintain community trust through consensus, inclusion, and transparency.
To ensure that the Board of Education maintains and strengthens the trust of the community, I believe that we need more transparency in how the board makes strategic decisions. We should actively reach out to a wider cross- section of the community, especially to parents in the community that may be underrepresented at our board meetings and within our parent organizations within our schools.
I believe that we should advocate for taking better advantage of public and private sector resources to meet the needs of our changing student population. Public and private organizations can help prepare children for school, set student and staff expectations of a more diverse student body, and help foster an environment conducive at school, at home and in the community.
2. Develop creative and flexible ways to address resource constraints.
Instructional time provided by teachers is our most valuable educational resource. In light of funding challenges, I believe that we need to prioritize the growth and development of our teachers by fostering development and achievement opportunities. Let's give teachers additional tools, resources and opportunities to be more creative in the classroom. And let's include teachers in the process of shaping how we do this.
Making improvements to our schools changes the costs of maintaining our facilities. Let's consider the maintenance and upkeep costs of new investments and improvements before we make the changes so there are no surprises.
3. Attract and retain excellent staff, teachers and faculty.
I am a strong advocate for competitive teacher compensation. However, I believe that we should also:
- Ensure that the organizational culture of our schools is
congenial, positive, and that our teachers believe
they can grow and make a difference.
- Empower our teachers by making them stakeholders and
enabling them to provide meaningful input into
teacher career development paths.
- Provide relevant training to teachers and the tools for them
to be able to apply training in their classrooms.
- Hold teachers accountable with meaningful quantitative
and qualitative measures of classroom performance and
career growth. Teachers should provide input in how this
measurement is designed; standardized tests are not a
measure of teacher performance.
4. Promote the improvement of CHCCS schools and facilities.
Some of our schools do not meet modern building codes. Additionally, some of our classrooms and facilities do not meet NC Department of Public Instruction standards for schools.
Why address it now? Mechanical issues, water leakage and other maintenance issues may result in bigger issues (and more expensive repairs) if they are not addressed in a timely fashion. If we don’t address these needs we may have to ask for more later as these problems get worse. Let's stop "kicking the can" into the future and address these needs now.
5. Strengthen the quality of our schools, which drives our economy and enhances our community.
Our schools have consistently made our community a more desirable place to live and work. As we improve our schools, we improve our entire community. Let’s ensure that we understand how changes to our schools and community impact each other.
Our schools lead the state in many measures of student performance; however, our community is strongest when every student has an excellent education. I want every student in our schools to be armed with the tools and knowledge to pursue their aspirations that take them beyond our schools. By acting on these goals and providing better outcomes for all students we strengthen our community and increase the opportunities for our children.
Click here for more details on my plan for tackling the achievement gap.