As a lifelong educator, I believe every student in our state deserves an equitable educational experience in a safe, welcoming environment that unleashes the unlimited potential of all students. I believe in our educators, and I believe it is the job of the Department of Public Instruction to empower them by supporting their daily work of educating students across the state. I believe our public education system is the very foundation of our entire society, and I want to be the North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction to help ensure this foundation is solid enough for our ever changing society.
It is time to put an innovative, educational leader at the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction whose focus is on students, not politics.
Putting Students First
Students, not politics, should be at the center of every educational decision made. Each and every student is an asset to the future of North Carolina, and decisions that impact their education must stay at the forefront of the daily work of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
I have had the privilege of working with students from pre-kindergarten to post high school in our public schools across North Carolina, and, unfortunately, there are grave inequities across our schools. This current state is in direct opposition to putting students first. When we put students first in our educational decision-making, we push the politics aside.
Teachers are the heart and soul of education. Unfortunately, their jobs have become more complex than ever; yet, it appears the level of respect and value of the teaching profession continues to decline in our state. As North Carolina Superintendent of Instruction one of my top priorities would be to better align the work of the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction to help lessen the load of classroom teachers. I will also work with our legislatures to ensure competitive compensation for those who are doing the day-to-day work of shaping the future of North Carolina.
School safety is imperative, and it begins with a safe, inclusive environment where social emotional learning is equally valued to academic learning. I do not believe arming our teachers with firearms will keep our students safe. Instead, we need to “arm” our teachers and communities with mental health resources that include early detection, prevention, and intervention. We need to ensure that schools have the necessary specialized instructional support personnel, such as school counselors, school nurses, school psychologist, school social workers and school resource officers, as well necessary resources.
Testing and Accountability
I am in support of reducing testing. The pendulum of testing has swung from little accountability to an overreach of accountability. I support examining the amount of time students spend being assessed in their educational career and finding ways to reduce the amount of time while ensuring all of our students are experiencing high quality instruction.
Assessments are important for teachers to know how students are progressing towards year long benchmarks. I am in support of teachers having access to valid and reliable assessments that provide information for teachers to make adjustments to instruction.
Building Education Leaders
School and district leaders are imperative. The pipeline to build school leaders is not strong enough to support the need we currently have in North Carolina. I believe that the skill sets needed for effective classroom instruction and effective school leadership are not synonymous. Building strong school leaders is imperative and must be done with intentionality. I am in support of having multiple pathways, such as the North Carolina Principal Fellows Program, for individuals to explore the path of educational leadership. The skill sets of an educational leader need to be amplified and supported in our focus on continuous improvement.
Early education begins before students enter a “schoolhouse door”. Early education efforts are the responsibility of multiple community agencies and partnerships. With this in mind, I recognize the need to have more supports in the formalized early education space. I believe this is essential because it is more effective to have reinforcement in the early grades to ensure any barriers are removed to promote stronger success for all students. Historically in North Carolina, the supports have been more focused on literacy and I want to expand that to mathematics and social emotional supports. We have a significant amount of research to guide us in this decision making, creating a well- balanced support for early education.