The Wake County Board of Education is the local governing body of the County Public School System. Its members are elected by districts in nonpartisan races and serve simultaneous 4-year terms.The 9-member school board has 5 primary responsibilities: 1. Employ the superintendent 2. Establish policy 3. Determine annual operating and capital budgets 4. Approve student assignment boundaries 5. Oversee the management of the school district’s major systems, including budget and finance, curriculum and instruction, personnel and auxiliary services
EDUCATOR with vision; Experienced accessible LEADER; ADVOCATE for students parents and teachers.
Active educator: 27 years as professor of chemistry at NC State University where I am active in the classroom, run an internationally-recognized research program, and train and develop high school chemistry teachers.
Member of the WCPSS Board of Education since 2011. 7 years as chair of the policy committee. Vice-Chair 2017-2018 and Chair of the Board 2018-2019.
Academic governance experience as Chair of the NCSU faculty, member of the Faculty Senate, Executive committee member and Parliamentarian of the UNC System Faculty Assembly.
It is critical for a school board member to understand the difference between governing and managing. The Board of Education is responsible for governance, whereas the superintendent is responsible for management.
It is further critical that a school board member understand and be a strong supporter of public education. They must be a community builder who works to build public support, respect, and trust in our public schools.
Pre-COVID, WCPSS had not recovered to pre-great recession levels of funding. Thus, there remain numerous critical systemic-funding issues. To prioritize a few:
*We must continue to address salaries and benefits of our certified staff, and critically increase wages of our non-certified staff such that no WCPSS employee earns less than $15/hour.
*We must increase the number of support staff in our schools. Specifically, there should be a minimum of one nurse, one social worker and one psychologist per school.
*We must fully fund the K-3 class size mandate, and in a manner that doesn’t increase class sizes in upper grades. Such funding must also fully support arts, health and other elective programming.
*We must increase the number of instructional assistants in K-3 classrooms, with a minimum of a full-time teacher and an instructional assistant.
While the Board of Education has no revenue generating authority, it is the Board’s responsibility to carefully articulate and advocate for the school system’s needs in a manner that taxpayers understand the value returned for the dollars invested.
The current teacher working conditions survey provides a sufficient assessment of teacher satisfaction to understand things that can be improved. Specifically, it is important to build systems and administrative structures that increase teacher voice and that respect the education profession. Significant work needs to be done to protect and respect teacher’s time for planning and carrying out instruction.
In part, I promote professional development through ChemPD, professional development workshops that I designed and offer to high school chemistry teachers across North Carolina. These workshops equip teachers with skills to implement discovery and critical-thinking approaches to chemistry education. Those interested in more curricular detail are encouraged to read my manuscript on the “Web of Study” approach to teaching and learning, published in the Journal of Chemical Education (2018, 95, 2134).
Neither important nor unimportant
The majority of neurologic development occurs in the first years of life. As such, from both a social and neurologic perspective, early engagement in an effective educational setting directly impacts the life-long abilities of a child.
Salary and benefits remain a significant challenge for teacher recruitment and retention. Sadly, the teaching profession remains one of the lowest paid professions requiring a college degree. Increasingly, however, the lack of respect and trust given to the teaching profession are leading to fewer people choosing this career. In addition, increasingly-prescribed curricula and formulaic assessments are disincentivizing creative educators. As a professor, it saddens me that teaching is not one of the preferred professional choices for my students. We must continually work to clearly respect the teaching profession as the profession it must be. Once respected as a profession, I do not believe we will have any difficulty recruiting or retaining qualified teachers.