While we have a lot to celebrate in Wake County when it comes to our public schools, there is work to be done. These are issues where I will focus my time and energy on the school board.
To be sure, this page will evolve as I hear from more Wake County families. If I missed an issue important to you, please don’t hesitate to let me know. I want Wake County Public Schools to be the first choice for all families.
Issues Impacting Our Schools
We need the state to fulfill its constitutional obligation to schools (North Carolina ranks near the bottom in per-pupil spending in the US) and that includes significant pay increases. We should re-examine how we get high school and college aged students interested in teaching and what opportunities they have to be involved in teaching. We also need to increase outreach to anyone looking for a meaningful career change or post corporate life career instead of retirement.
School Mental Health Professionals, Social Workers & Nurses
The goal should be to have these and similar support staff present daily in every school as full-time positions. To fully serve our students, these critical positions do not need to be divided across multiple schools and only present for a portion of the week.
Long-Term Substitutes (LTS)
We should prioritize and incentivize core class coverage with higher pay to those with a background in the subject matter. Consider increased pay the longer any sub is in that position. We need to provide a better support network to LTS to help them learn to teach, including assisting with curriculum development. Do we have a pathway for LTS to become full time teachers?
Bus Driver Shortages
We must recognize the importance of our bus drivers and listen to their concerns. Far too often we have route cancellations which cause problems for all. We need to recruit more bus drivers and have some on standby every school day. We also need to ensure students are behaving on buses and treating drivers with respect.
This impacts public schools, private schools and youth programs. There is a successful pilot program in other states to create an officiating curriculum for high school students as a physical education elective. This would help cover middle school games as well as youth sports.
I value diversity in all aspects of life and there should be nothing controversial about DEI. I could not have said the following better: “Diverse representation and inclusive learning environments provide inspiration and aspiration and help students believe, ‘I can be there, or I can achieve thought leadership in the profession I choose.’” (Nancy Aebersold)
A recurring theme throughout many of the challenges we face is a need to improve communication with parents. We need to focus not simply on the delivery system used to communicate with parents but the how and what we are communicating. This includes the volume of information being shared, the frequency and the ease of finding information on the county and school websites.
The School system needs a comprehensive review on all aspects of the pandemic response.
Feedback from teachers, administrators, bus drivers, students and parents.
Ventilation Audits - COVID should be a wake-up call that we need to make sure our ventilation systems are working efficiently.
Portable HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters should be considered in smaller rooms, in classes with a high number of students and in any room in which a student is immune compromised.
What worked with virtual learning? How can we improve that experience?
What are we doing differently the next time we face a situation when school cannot be attended long term?
What support will be provided to teachers and students the next time we face a similar situation?
The County has done a good job at looking at different ways to reduce pandemic-related learning loss. I appreciate that they are evaluating the effectiveness of the summer programs.
The HELPS Education Fund tutoring plan looks great for one on one or small group tutoring.
Thank you to the YMCA for investing their time in this issue. We need buy-in from the entire community to overcome the educational challenges faced by the pandemic.
Given the diversity of business in this region, we should ask the business community to allow employees time off for small group tutoring in the subject matter related to their work.
Every year some students face significant events in their lives that cause missed time or struggles in class. What opportunities are in place for one on one or small group tutoring to get students caught up on subject matter?
Given the tragedies at school, we should expand the zone of schools notified when one school is in lockdown. Improving communication will help parents so we aren’t relying on the news for updates.
As someone that was bullied in school, it’s imperative we let kids know what to do when bullied. And then support them 100% with our words and actions.
Climate change is bringing more severe weather with seemingly more tornado warnings. We need to communicate school policies with parents on this issue then make sure those policies are being followed when we have these warnings.
Arming Teachers/Fencing Schools
Arming teachers or building tall fences around all schools? It’s tough to believe we are having these conversations, but I’m generally against the idea of arming teachers or turning on schools into prisons like complexes.
I do support SROs in high schools and middle schools. But Principals are the leaders of their schools. School principals and school staff should take the lead in incidents in schools. The long term goals should be to reduce the need for SROs with more investment in support services including enough school psychologists and social workers to serve every school.
There have been discussions on renovating schools to build vestibules. It was suggested that federal waivers for the Americans with Disabilities Act should be considered. I am 100% against these waivers. We do it right for everyone or we don’t do it.
Are we challenging our students enough as society evolves?
Stagnant Math scores- This has been an ongoing concern. What about the curriculum doesn't translate to better performance? Are we getting direct feedback from our students on what does and does not work?
Coding for Kids?- There are terrific programs for kids as early as first grade outside of school. We should consider a curriculum district-wide that introduces coding starting in first grade so all students can learn for free.
Review online access capabilities and permissions for lower grades.
Facilities Improvements that are important to address:
Solar Power for All Schools - It’s time we have solar panels on all new builds and our goal should be 100% of schools having solar in 10-15 years. Start with using grant money and partner with Duke Energy. Potential energy savings are substantial and we need to do our part to mitigate the impact of climate change.
Ventilation Audits and related improvements for all schools.
Portable HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filtration as detailed under COVID Response section.
Safe Routes to School - Review sidewalk safety around every school and work with municipalities on improvements.
We should have more joint-use agreements with municipalities when a school like Broughton HS needs fields. We should also have more partnerships with groups that would like to use our facilities.
Parent Engagement & School Policy
Active parents help create a strong school system. We are fortunate to have wonderful parents engaged with their kids' schools. Getting constructive feedback from parents is extremely useful. We should always encourage it and make sure we are gathering feedback from a broad spectrum of parents and on a variety of subjects.
I will always listen to parents that are respectful, even if we disagree on an issue.
Parents have a lot of rights in Wake County as laid out in the Handbook. This includes being informed of syllabuses/curriculum, opting out of assignments, seeing work completed and more.
I promise transparency. Therefore, I am sharing my thoughts on current 'controversial issues' so that it's clear where I stand.
Book Banning- I am generally against banning books in school. The review process in place now works effectively and I trust our librarians.
CRT- This is not being taught in grades K-12.
School Start Time
I'm not sure of the solution, given the bus schedules, but no schools should start before 8 am.