Campaign website: www.hoodforschools.com
Phone number: 919-383-5043
Years lived in Orange County: 25
1. What are the three most important education issues facing Orange County schools? If elected, how will you address those issues? Please be specific.
A) Closing the achievement gap: teachers and staff will identify students falling behind as early as possible and develop a plan to get them on track to perform at grade level.
B) Low participation rate of minority students in honor, AP and IB courses: increase access and availability of these courses and identify and encourage students to take advantage of these offerings.
C) Stronger Career and Technical Education (Vocational) offerings: will prepare students that a not college bound to be employable upon graduation with the necessary skills to be productive.
2. What in your record as a public employee or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective on the Orange County Board of Education? (This might include career or community service; be specific about its relevance to this office.)
My 35 years in the computer industry in product research and development ensures that I have the background to assess the skills necessary to be successful in industries requiring strong STEM requirements. My attendance at school board meetings for the past 5 years provides the knowledge of all issues facing Orange County Schools. I have made many presentations to the board over this period covering a number of areas. I provided a list of questions for the board members for their trip to Mooresville Graded School District to supplement their preparation in implementing the 1 to 1 laptop program within the district.
3. The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
My goal as a board member would be to ensure that all students have the knowledge and skills to be successful citizens with a strong and complete public education.
4. Orange County Public Schools had a low dropout rate, 1.55 percent, in the latest available data from 2013–14. But that rate, while low compared to the statewide average, is also the second highest among Triangle school systems, after Durham County. What steps can the Orange County school system take to improve its retention rate?
Students that exhibit the signs that they are considering dropping out of schools must identified and counseled on the results of this decision will have on them for the reminder of their life; low paying jobs and limited chances of improving their life in later years.
5. Actions by school-system administrators led to the resignations of Efland-Cheeks Elementary teacher Omar Currie and assistant principal Meg Goodhand last year, over the King & King book controversy. Currie’s treatment by administrators angered the LGBTQ community and many supporters. Do you believe the Orange County school system should have handled the situation differently? If so, how? Are you willing to stand up to parents who wish to shield their kids—and therefore, all students—from discussions and educational materials about gay people?
I personally, have no problem with the King and King being used in the system; but I do think the book is not appropriate for 3rd grade students. The decisions of the board on this matter are not a public record and as the teacher and assistant principal chose to resign; I consider the matter to be resolved.
6. According to the latest available data, 13.4 percent of students in Orange County schools are living in poverty, and the number of kids getting free and reduced lunches has risen to 43 percent. In your experience, what are some challenges that economically disadvantaged students, in particular, face day-to-day? What can the school system do to ensure that poor kids have all they need to excel at their studies?
If a child is hungry their ability to stay focused on the task at hand is harder and the peer pressure that comes with poverty is another negative influence. The system must ensure that all students that need free and reduced meals are in fact receiving them. The long term solution would be for more and better paying jobs in Orange County, which would be the responsibility of the County Commissioners and the Economic Development Commission.
7. Last year, Orange County schools earned three B’s, eight C’s, and one D under the state’s revamped scoring system. Do you think the current state grading system is fair and truly reflects school quality? What do low-performing schools need to do to operate at a higher level? And what does the school board need to do to raise these grades?
No, the scoring system does not reflect the true quality of schools. The scoring system is on a 15 point scale: A=85 – 100, B=70 – 84, C=55 – 69, D=40-54, F = less than 40. The students were graded on a 7 point scale for the 2014-2015 school year: A=93 – 100, B=85 – 92, C=77 – 84, D=70-76, F = less than 70. If the actual percentage scores from NC DPI Accountability and Testing are converted using the 7 point scale, the schools would have earned 2 D’s and 10 F’s. The obvious disconnect between actual test scores and what is reported to the public needs to be addressed by NC DPI.
8. What do you think the system could do to keep down suspension rates in Orange County schools?
The suspension rates could be kept down if students are well versed in the expectations for behavior in the system and that suspensions are equally applied to all students.
9. Identify and explain one principled stand you would be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
We need to remove Common Core Standards from NC Public Schools as it is never tested or validated. The Academic Standards Review Commission study recommended dropping Common Core Math and returning to classic math education; but the board of the commission ignored the recommendation and voted to keep Common Core Standards. No other country uses Common Core and in international testing the US ranks 14th in the world on test scores before Common Core and is now ranked 20th in the world.