Elections » Candidate Questionnaires

Chris Malone

Candidate for Wake County Board of Education District 1

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Chris Malone
Full legal name, if different:
Date of birth: 06/10/1957
Home address: 224 West Holding Ave WAKE FOREST, NC 27588
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.maloneforschoolboard.com
Occupation & employer: Case Manager, G4S Compliance and Investigations
Home phone: 919-554-8164
Work phone: 919-334-9202
E-mail: maloneforschoolboard@gmail.com



1) What are the specific needs of your school district that you will fight for if election to the board?

We have too many failing schools, particularly in District 1. Wake County graduation rates have steadily declined over the last ten years, down 4 points in just the last four years. EOG Math and Reading scores are below expectations, and the ED/NED achievement gap is not improving. Quality of education must be improved.

2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on the council? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.

Part of being a successful public servant is in finding a way to succeed in working with fellow board members. In one example I advanced and crafted the Hope program that is meant to generate funds to keep the lights and heat on for those in need. In another more difficult example it took me five months to create consensus among my fellow town board members, enabling us to change our town charter and ensure that Kelo vs. New London CT.- style takings of private property for commercial would not occur in our town.

3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

School Board elections are non-partisan, and I don't believe this question is relevant in an endorsement decision. Wake County students deserve an excellent education. In some cases, that may mean a college-preparatory curriculum. In others, it may mean vo-tech training.

4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

As a School Board representative, my overriding priority will be the education of our children. I believe that voters will always support doing the right things for our students.

5. What's your position on the issue of "neighborhood" schools and abandoning, or changing, current assignment policies that seek to balance student populations in every school ("diversity")?

The current policy is based on a flawed premise that poor students have less learning potential that those who come from middle-class families, and on an equally-flawed assumption that a positive learning environment is not possible in schools with higher concentrations of F&R students. The numbers don't lie, our assignment policy is failing. While middle-class students are performing reasonably well, less than 54% of ED students are graduating.

Education is the primary mission of our school system. We know that reassignment is not the solution to improving academic performance of at-risk students, and we know that sending students many miles from home makes it more difficult for parents to provide support to their children and their schools. As such, I favor implementation of innovative learning models as a means to improve classroom education for at-risk students and increase parental support for all students and their schools.

6. To limit reassignments and busing distances, some local officials have advocated either splitting the Wake school district or else creating sub-districts with fixed boundaries within it. What's your reaction to these ideas?

I am against splitting up the county into multiple school systems or creating any fixed boundaries.

7. Wake County's graduation rate hovers around 80 percent, meaning that of the students entering high school, about one in five doesn't finish within five years. That's better than the state average, but it isn't great. Should the district be doing more for at-risk students in the earlier grades and if so, what?

Right now graduation rates are about 78% which shows continued long term slippage. Of greater concern is the graduation rate for the ED students, just over 50%. These students deserve better, and so does Wake County. Our school system today is not breaking the poverty cycle, WCPSS is perpetuating it.

The answer is yes, we should be doing much more. For starters, we must stop operating on the assumption that all students in our school system have a desire to go on to college. Some of these students wish to pursue trades or other careers which do not begin with college. By forcing these students into a college-preparatory curriculum instead of offering them coursework which prepares them for what they want to do, we are only encouraging them to drop out. We should expect the same graduation rate from ED students as their non-ED peers, and we must provide whatever support is required to get them there. We know that other school systems (ie. Guilford County with its Mission Possible program) achieve better results through innovation, and we cannot be afraid to learn from others.

8. Are new programs needed to help dropouts return and finish high school?

The focus needs to be on keeping these kids in school, it is nearly impossible to get them back once they drop out. We need to inspire students to stay in school by offering them a firm educational foundation and expand their frontiers by exciting their minds. We are not doing that. 18% of students leave every year and that excludes those that drop out. Having said that, I would be interested in anything that would bring them back to school.

9. Does Wake County have enough schools and enough classrooms? If not, would you advocate speeding up the pace of new buildings and additions, even if tax hikes were required?

Tax rates are determined by the Wake County Commissioners, not the School Board, but I'll share my opinion. Collectively, Wake County currently has adequate classroom capacity -- we just do not use it effectively. And WCPSS has done a poor job of partnering with businesses and developers to acquire land and fund school construction. Smart management of school infrastructure will allow us to keep up with school capacity requirements without increasing taxes.

10. Year-round schools are one way the county's kept school taxes low. Should more schools be made (or built to be) year-round? Should students be assigned to attend them?

Again, WCPSS has done a poor job of partnering with businesses and developers to acquire land and fund school construction. Smart management will allow us to maintain required school capacity without the need for mandatory reassignment to YR schools. I believe that YR calendars are a wonderful option for families, and should be preserved. I do not believe in mandatory assignment to YR schools.

As an aside, I would ask the Independent what actual data you have to support your assertion that Wake County has realized any cost benefits by converting schools to MYR.

11. Magnet schools are a key element of current diversity policies, but they're expensive—and outlying areas of the county wonder why they can't have them too. What changes, if any, do you support in the way magnets are used?

First we have to pay more attention to "outlying areas" as the voices of Eastern Wake parents haven't been heard or perhaps were ignored. We should adopt some elements of the magnet programs and throughout the system. Finally and importantly when seats are available, anyone who wants to attend the school should be given a seat regardless of demographic. Discrimination is not acceptable under any guise.

12. Does every new high school need a football stadium? A theater? Are shared facilities an approach you'd support to save taxpayers money?

I think sharing resources is a tremendous idea that can be employed, issue by issue. We should gather more input from our stakeholders – the citizens of Wake County, and recognize that every dollar saved on facilities can become a dollar which goes into the classroom.

13. The Wake Education Partnership's recent report, "Suspending Disbelief," describes a 21st century school system—quite unlike anything that exists in the U.S. today—that would equip students to succeed in a global economy. The report calls for a longer school year and far-reaching improvements in curriculum and assessment, none of which would be free. What, if anything, would you take from this report if elected?

I was disappointed by WEP's "Suspending Disbelief" report. We have schools in every district that are in Title I status. We have a tepid overall graduation rate of 78%, and almost half of our ED students do not make it out of our school system with a diploma. While I agree that we should set high goals for our system and think strategically, I believe that right now our energies must be very focused on the serious problems in our school system today

14. What question(s) haven't we asked—and what's your answers?

None.

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