Name as it appears on the ballot: Annetta Streater
Date of birth: Jan 23rd
Home address: 180 BPW Club Road, # H-12, Carrboro, NC 27510
Campaign Web site: www.astreaterforschoolboard.org
Occupation & employer: Dental Hygienist
If elected, what are your top priorities for the school board and how will you achieve them?
If I am re-elected to the board, I will continue to advocate for effective practices that allow all children to achieve and grow; I will continue to advocate for quality professional development for teachers and staff; and I will continue to be objective and thoughtful in making decisions that impact our children and community.
What is there in your record as a public official or other experience—e.g., career, community service—that demonstrates your ability to be effective as a board member? If you are an incumbent, what are your most notable achievements and how will you build on them? If you aren't, what do you bring to the board that it now lacks? Please be as specific as possible about the relevance of your accomplishments to your goals for the board.
I have demonstrated my ability to be an effective board member in a number of ways. A few of these achievements center around access, discipline, professional development and safety. I supported the transition of Phoenix Academy from an alternative program to a high school that meets the needs of students in a small class environment. I supported the decision to remove barriers in the form of prerequisites that have historically prohibited some students from accessing rigorous high school courses. I have supported funding technology equipment that increases safety in our schools and enhances learning. I supported a more comprehensive policy on discipline that requires access to continued instruction during long term suspensions. I supported increased professional development in the form of online module training and master training for teachers that return to their schools to provide on site training. Both allow the district to maximize its limited professional development funds. I supported the implementation of data driven tools that allow principals and teachers to monitor student achievement and intervene appropriately.
The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to the board help further that goal?
My election to the Board would help further the Independent's mission by providing sound leadership, an unbiased view of the issues, advocacy for best teaching practices, and advocacy for equal access to those best practices. Our actions should be based on the thinking that we should treat people the way we would want to be treated. For a diverse population such as ours, it can be difficult to be sensitive to the struggles and needs of other races and cultures. But we must be steadfast - to be tolerant of our differences and to embrace our similarities. We must be mindful that a basic education is a constitutional right. There's no one person more disserving of an education than another. We must dispel this idea that some people are more privileged than others, especially when it comes to obtaining a basic education.
For the first time in two decades, CHCCS has a new superintendent in Thomas Forcella. What do you hope he achieves in his first year in charge and what will you do to support his efforts?
It is my expectation that Dr. Forcella will use the first year to meet as many staff, families and community stakeholders as possible with the goal of learning about the culture of our district and hearing concerns. He is off to a great start with scheduled meetings, the opening of school and community conversations throughout the community. He also plans to thoroughly examine each school, the administrative offices and its operations and gain insight on our current academic programs. At the end of his first year, he plans to bring together several stakeholders to begin collective discussions about the district's new strategic plan. I will do my part by facilitating introductions and encouraging all stakeholders to get involved in learning about him, his strengths, his vision for the district and how each of us can play our part in taking CHCCS to the next level.
How can the district close the achievement gap? What strides have been made in the past four years, what worked, what didn't, and what should be done now?
There are several ideas I have considered for closing the minority achievement gap. I am pleased to see that the district continues to examine its practices and achievement data toward closing gaps. The difficulty is in the implementation of specific practices to the meet the goals. We must increase the outreach to families, meeting them in their communities if necessary. This must be done with compassion and humility, without making parents and/or guardians feel like they're second class citizens. For a diverse community such as ours, it can be difficult to be sensitive to the struggles and needs of other races and cultures. But we must be steadfast – be tolerant of our differences and to embrace our similarities. This includes teachers and staff. We must dispel the thinking that a child's environment or home situation is the primary predictor of their future success. Despite the challenges that many families of color have experienced, much of which can be attributed to racial discrimination, negative stereotypes and denial of opportunities, there are families that provide loving, nurturing and 'confidence building' environments for their children. The primary predictor of a child's academic success is and should be his/her teacher. There are certainly other factors that can have an impact, but when it comes to providing a quality education, the quality of the teacher is the key. While there is more work to be done, we have made strides on a few fronts. Increased professional development that allows teachers to be more adept at teaching literacy to struggling students; close monitoring of the students' progress throughout the year along with specific interventions for those students who are not performing; and increased integration of core subjects such as reading and science to better engage students are just a few strategies that have been implemented during the last four years.
How do you make sure that despite budget difficulty, the district will push past the status quo and achieve more? What more needs to be done to help support teachers?
The district has been fortunate during the past few years of budget cuts. We've managed to keep most of our positions and educators continue to want to work in the district. We will push past the status quo by being committed to developing our teaching and school leaders. They are the key to raising achievement. As the state and federal funds continue to diminish, we have to be efficient with our limited resources but also support those programs that we know to be effective. I believe that the district/board should commit local funds in an appropriate amount, either a percentage of its operational budget or a dollar amount, that will complement (or replace) the funds that we currently receive from the state for professional development. Additionally, we have to support our teachers and staff by allowing them to engage in the policy development process, welcoming their feedback on issues that will impact their work. Lines of communication must remain strong and consistent such that all stakeholders feel that their voices were heard.
How will the policies you push, if elected, help develop students for the new economy? What kind of nontraditional education is now needed and how would you help provide it?
There are many policies that provide direction to the district as well as affirm the board's vision. At the core of most of our policies is the belief that students will grow academically and socially and do so in a safe environment. District leaders and staff then assure that the policies are implemented and/or adhered to. We also have a strategic plan that speaks to specific goals and measurable outcomes that will develop students for a new economy. Soon the superintendent and board will begin work on a new strategic plan. I know that the process will include all stakeholders. Hopefully through this process, the board will gather information about what the public seeks as we try to reposition ourselves as global leaders. I am committed to advocating for strategies and best practices that engage students in critical thinking, problem solving, and collaboration. All of our schools have the capacity to engage students in these ways.
How should student discipline be handled? What are your views on the district's current policies for long-term suspension? Do you think they are fairly applied? How would you ensure those children who are long-term suspended are given an opportunity to be educated?
Most of the district's policies derive from federal and state mandates and rarely have these mandates provided discretion for local school boards. I know that there continues to be a disproportionate number of minority being suspended. With better clarity about behavior expectations and interventions for students, we are seeing some reductions in the number of suspensions. The General Assembly made some major changes to the discipline related statutes, including the elimination of the 365 day suspension. We are also required to provide continued instruction during a suspension. Two current opportunities for continued instruction are the Boomerang program and Phoenix Academy High School.
What would you do to increase parental involvement in the schools? What should be the nature of that involvement? Where should the line be drawn?
In the last four years, the district has made improvements in how schools and staff engage with parents. Such improvements include special nights at schools that allow parents to learn about curriculum and strategies on supporting their child's learning at home. The schools also arrange for translation services as needed so that parents feel welcome at the schools. While we'd like to see all parents volunteering at our schools, I know that it is not possible. Work commitments and childcare can prohibit parents from volunteering. I'm concerned that parents are judged and treated differently based on the level of involvement. This shouldn't be. Conversely, there are times when it is inappropriate for parents to volunteer. Teachers and principals must make that decision and convey their rationale to the parents. Parental involvement in the form of volunteering should be in keeping with the district goals.
As Chapel Hill's population continues to grow, what should guide future school planning? Can the district afford and obtain the land necessary to build these schools? How should the district manage its growth? How does redistricting fit in?
There are specific guidelines from the Department of Public Instruction regarding the capacity of a school and when it becomes necessary to build a new school. The board also relies on growth projection models that give some insight in planning for future school construction. These projections are shared with county commissioners who ultimately provide funding for school construction. Recent budget restraints have delayed new school construction. Minimal growth in recent years has also pushed out the need for Elementary #11. Early indicators for this year's enrollment show that the district will have more growth that the state projected. At this time we are working with the county commissioners to provide early funding for deconstruction at the Northside site. Management of growth is not something that the district can do directly. Families either leave our district or come to our district based on our performance. But we can be prepared for increased numbers by staying informed about new residential construction and closely monitoring our current schools' enrollments.