Blog: Wake school board candidates meet for forum
Posted September 8, 2011
Raleigh, N.C. — The first in a series of five Wake County Board of Education candidate forums kicks off Thursday night at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh.
The forums are sponsored by WakeUp Wake and the League of Women Voters of Wake County.
Thursday's event features candidates from District 6. Carolyn Morrison currently represents this district but announced she will not run for re-election. There are four candidates running for her seat: Christine Kushner, George W. Morgan,
Mary Ann Weathers and Donna Williams.
Although school board races in Wake County are technically non-partisan on the ballot, this race has become highly politicized after a Republican majority took majority control of the board in 2009. The Wake County Democratic and Republican parties are actively involved in endorsing, supporting, and promoting candidates for this election, which will be held Tuesday Oct. 11.
For more details on all school board candidates visit WRAL's school board elections page. Have a question for the candidates? Submit it here.
Marian Lewin from the League of Women Voters of Wake County is the moderator for the district six forum. Each of the four candidates get two minutes to make an opening statement that must answer the following questions:
What do you hope to accomplish when you serve on the Wake County Board of Education?
What specific skills and qualities would you contribute to the Board of Education?
Serving on the Board of Education is an extremely time consuming commitment to the community. It can also be very stressful, Why do you want to take on this challenge?
After opening statements the moderator will ask a series of questions, followed by audience questions, and then each candidate will have three minutes to make a closing statement.
Here are some highlights from portions of the forum, beginning with parts of each candidate's opening statements:
George Morgan's Opening Statement:
I would push to require academic coaching at all grade levels.
I would push to increase the number of required math and science units as well as health and physical education classes.
I was employed by Wake County Schools in various teaching and leadership roles all of which require knowledge of school board policy and processes.
Christine Kushner Opening Statement:
We must restore confidence in the board of education and put the focus back on students and teachers, by putting politics aside.
I have been a parent of Wake County students for the past 11 years. Worked as a tutor and PTA leader.
I have been attending board meetings for the past two years.
I want to move forward, not go back to any past policies.
Donna Williams Opening Statement:
As a mother of four and grandmother of seven I understand needs of Wake County students.
We need a stable assignment policy to ensure student achievement.
We need to utilize test scores, teacher feedback, and parent involvement to better place students in advance courses.
Parents should have a choice of where their children go to school.
I will take a non-partisan approach
Mary Ann Weathers Opening Statement:
I am Raleigh native, with 40 years of experience as an educator.
Deadly indifference lead to current school board we have in place. The school board is broken and teachers and students are the victims. We will have apartheid if we continue down this path, where white majority will be making all the decisions for the minority students.
I have a 4 step plan to fix the mess.
Thoughts on a student assignment plan:
Concern about transpiration logistics and the number of seats that will be available at each school. Morgan would like to see all details worked out before a plan is presented to parents.
Mary Ann Weathers:
I am glad the magnet schools are being kept in tact.
We need to be careful about making sure the plan will work before its rolled out, because we can not afford to waste resources on a plan that does not fit.
The new proposed plan offers choice and stability which we have not had before.
Encouraged parents to give more feedback before a plan is final.
The current proposed feeder patterns in the new plan does not offer the proximity and stability that district six expects.
We need to ensure we are using school capacity wisely under the new plan.
Would you support a bond that would increase taxes to pay for new school construction needs?
We must have bond money to keep up with construction needs, but I don't think we should raises taxes to get there. I think we should look at wasteful spending in the school system first.
We need a bond to fund the number of new schools that will be needed. I think we need to get a board that can work together to rally the community to support such a bond. We must make sure we use our resources wisely.
We are just finishing up with the bond money approved in 2006. We still have money left from that bond being used on projects now. I would need to know exactly where all the leftover money is going before I could vote in favor of a new bond.
Mary Ann Weathers:
We need to do a careful, internal audit before be talk about another bond or raise taxes again. I would be reluctant to ask for any more money until we become good stewards of the money we have now.
Why should someone with no children in the school system vote in this election and why should they vote for you?
You should be concerned because we have a crisis coming. We are getting a bad deal from state legislatures with the amount of money coming in for schools.
Mary Ann Weathers:
Taxpayers have an investment in public schools because they are the foundation of the community. We have to be good stewardship of tax payers money.
If you own property in Wake County, most of the taxes you pay go toward schools. What happens in our schools impact the entire community. When a business looks at relocating to our county they look at the school systems before making that decision.
We need to make sure public education stays the economic driving force of our community. We need an end of divisiveness of the board. We need board members who will strengthen the public education system.
Closing Statements From Each Candidate:
Mary Ann Weathers:
I am proud to be a graduate of this school system.
My education has served me well. That's why I am so sad to see what's happened to this school board. I want this to be a school system where every teacher wants to teach and every student can learn.
I am worried about the influence of special interest groups.
I have never run for office before, but my entire life has been about serving. I was nervous about stepping into this race, but I have thought and prayed about it a lot. My son who was serving his country as a Marine inspired me to get more involved in serving my community. I want to do what is best for our school children.
I am proud to be endorsed by the teachers and teacher's association. I will hit the ground running in December as an informed board member. I have been paying close attention over the past two years and understand the school board role. I am not bringing a personal or political agenda to the board. I want to represent the entire county. We need to end divisiveness of the school board.
I will works to imporve the achievement level of all students in Wake County.