Our public schools deserve a champion! As a lifelong educator, I will fight to save public education and produce the schools our children deserve.
The most important role of superintendent is to support our 115 districts with much needed resources and to remove the barriers that negatively impact teaching and learning. I believe our districts need the most assistance supporting schools that serve predominantly children of color and large numbers of children living in poverty. I will help them turn failed policies and programs into promise. Having an extensive teaching background and the respect of educators will allow me to make positive change immediately.
Another important responsibility is overseeing the recruitment and licensing of new teachers. North Carolina is in crisis with our limited pool of teacher candidates shrinking each year. I believe that in order to recruit new teachers and especially teachers of color, who are underrepresented in our schools, we need to develop a high school teacher cadet program to attract students earlier, provide community college programs for that attract potential teachers and expand Teaching Fellows to include HBCUs.
Finally, this position is the face and voice of North Carolina Public Schools. The Superintendent has access to our Governor, NCGA and State Board. She must have the ability to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of our system and to galvanize citizens, stakeholders and school personnel so that our children have rich opportunities for learning. I have the experience, networks and credibility to do this.
If elected, I will schedule my time so that it reflects my priorities. In order to best serve all 115 districts I will need to learn as much as possible about each district and I will commit to spending at least one day a week in NC public schools. It is imperative that our lowest performing schools see the Superintendent in their buildings. I want them to know I will work side by side to make improvements that enhance teaching and learning.
I also believe that it is critical we have open lines of communication with the districts. Therefore, we will have regularly scheduled conversations with district superintendents and other district school personnel. Unlike our current administration, I understand that the closer you are to working with children, the bigger the impact you have on public education.
Racial equity is another priority. We must do better for our black and brown children. One priority is recruiting and retaining a teaching force that reflects North Carolina's diversity. Our children should see people like themselves as educators and administrators. Research suggests that for every teacher of color a child of color has, his/her achievement rises by 15%. I commit to creating an Office of Equity Affairs at DPI. The goal of this office will be to support schools in combatting issues of inequity.
I will prioritize my responsibilities by using my time effectively, keeping open lines of communication and viewing issues through a lens of equity.
When I ran for NC Senate in 2018, I developed relationships with more than 50 members of the General Assembly and I feel confident that I can call on those members when I need advice, want to ask a question or have information to share with them.
Interestingly enough, I have been a member of both major political parties and while I definitely align more closely with the platform of one party over the other, I don't approve of the current polarized climate.
Part of my job as a teacher educator is coaching teachers and modeling in their classrooms how to engage students in productive dialogue. If 5 year olds can do it, so can our General Assembly. A couple of years ago I wrote an article for a NC newspaper about the lack of civil discourse in our General Assembly. For the sake of North Carolina, we must learn to compromise, cross the aisle and move our state forward. That is democracy. Perhaps I can coach the NCGA too.
I have always felt that education should not be Partisan. Unfortunately, at least at this point in time, it is. One party seeks to privatize with vouchers and charters and in my opinion that is not in the best interest of children and society. However, in order to carry out my responsibilities as Superintendent, I will need to work with the laws as they currently stand. My office will support all our children and personnel in public schools. I will take this oath very seriously and will work across the aisle to do what is best for NC students.
NC Superintendent of Public Instruction
From a constitutional perspective, the Superintendent of Public Instruction is the leader of the Department of Public Instruction which is the administrative arm of the State Board of Education. As the leader of DPI, the Superintendent should ensure that the policies adopted by the State Board as well as the laws given by the legislature are carried out with fidelity. A great State Superintendent will also do the following:
1. Champion public schools and those who are employed there
2. Advocate for student-centered education policies
3. Convene those who wish to solve problems on behalf of all children
4. Liaise with superintendents and other school leaders to give those in the trenches a voice at the legislature.
My North Star for public education in NC is that there must be a highly qualified teacher in every classroom in across this state. For the past thirty years, North Carolina has tried both partisan and bipartisan ways to improve public education but nothing has moved the needle. We still have an achievement gap, only one-third of NC fourth-graders are proficient readers, and 65% of NC eight-graders are not proficient at math. Some say it’s a resource problem while others say it’s an accountability problem but to say it’s one or the other is disingenuous. Neither alone will fix our problems. We have just completed the 3rd generation of school effectiveness studies in the U.S. and what they reveal is that the only thing that moves the needle is having a excellent teacher in every classroom. Class size, ever-changing standards, technology, etc. do not impact student achievement. It’s teacher quality. And great teachers work for great leaders who are able to provide teachers with the supports they need.
The State Superintendent must earn and build trust with the State Board of Education, the Lt. Governor, the Governor, and the legislature. Ideally these groups and I would be rowing in the same direction, intent on making decisions through a students-first lens that is strategic and takes the long view, and equally as important, is based on research and data. My approach to working with others is to assume the best and take no offense. There is an incredible group of people in North Carolina from both sides of the aisle working to improve outcomes for all children in North Carolina. We must leverage our collective desire to do what's right for students.