2011 CHCCS School Board candidates

I wanted to create a thread for folks to share their thoughts on the school board candidates and what you'd like to see in the election, especially since the filing day thread has devolved into old attacks and counter-attacks.  And especially since we school board candidates always get the shortest stick in any media coverage (note the CH News editorial today which only had TC candidates).

The CH News did print one story similar to the one on Town Council races today.  Unfortunately (or not, for me), they only gave any details on the challengers.  

So the candidates for 4 four-year seats are (in order of filing)...

  • Mia Burroughs (incumbent) - http://miaburroughs.com/Campaign/index.htm
  • James Barrett (me) - http://barrettforschools.com
  • Raymond Conrad
  • Brian Bower
  • Kris Castellano - http://www.castellano4board.com/
  • Annetta Streater (incumbent)- http://astreaterforschoolboard.org/
  • Mike Kelley (incumbent) - http://kelley4schoolboard.blogspot.com/

The other person running is Jamezetta Bedford (incumbent), who is the only person who filed for the 2 year seat.  UPDATE -- There is no longer a 2 year seat on the ballot.  Jamezetta will be listed along with the other candidates (vote for 5) and the 5th place vote-getter will serve the 2 year term.

I'm sad that Jean Hamilton isn't running again -- she's a great board member and I only hope that if I'm elected, I can contribute as much as she does to the conversation on the board.

Please chime in with your thoughts!

[8/14 Added Annetta's website, which will be active this week. -JCB]

[10/12 Updated information about 2 year term. -JCB]




So we had orientation last week by the school district (Stephanie Knott) on what is required of board members (and potential board members in the campaign).Just for those keeping score, Brian Bower did not show up.  It is aimed towards challengers, but Annetta Streater did show up (and helped in answering questions too).   Ray Conrad and I were there - Kris Castellano was out of town.Greg provided a nice summary of where the board's thoughts are on things like liasons and sub-committees of the board.  Stephanie provided a good overview of what's available on the district website (she admitted it could be easier to navigate!).   And then Dr. Forcella joined us towards the end for some words of encouragement.It was a nice meeting -- lots to think about on the board, but a good group of people supporting each other there as well.

James -  I am very much looking forward to hearing your take (as well as that of the other new candidates) on a host of issues. Full disclosure - I am the parent whose constant emails and media interviews finally got district traction on issues at Phillips Middle School, and I would love to hear some opinions from possible representatives on the school board. It is very important that the culture of perfection without questions that pervades our district be challenged. Our community needs school board members willing to ask tough questions, and make difficult decisions - not members who continue to assume that everything is great all the time. There are issues. Our achievement gap looms larger with every new test score that is revealed. There are issues at individual schools that must be solved. I look forward to hearing the stand of potential board members on the issues. Their real solutions, and not platitudes. Everyone says bullying is bad. What will you do about it? What is your approach to helping administrators that are struggling in their job? What are your ideas for tackling the achievement gap? These are only a few of the issues out there. And I hope the potential school board members are ready to give real answers and not just political platitudes. And if you want to be added to the famous Phillips email list, let me know. I would be glad to let you know what is happening... Jeff Hall @wmjehall wm.je.hall@gmail.comwmjehall.com 


Thanks for your comment and questions. I only know what I've read and heard in the media about the situation at Phillips; because I do hope to win election to the school board, I will not ask to be added to your email list--because I would hate to later have to recuse myself from a vote because of knowing too much.

I hear you that you want real solutions, not platitudes, and I have a host of opinions about what the district should do on a variety of issues. To that end, I have posted a lot about myself and what I stand for on my website (http://barrettforschools.com), as well as a Q&A answering questions I've heard over the past months and years (http://barrettforschools.com/faq). However, I also want to make clear that I'm not a teacher (though I would have loved to be if schools could match what I earn as a software engineer), don't have a degree in education, and don't believe I have all the answers. And I don't believe, actually, that it's the job of the board to have all the answers; the board's job is to demand those answers--backed up with research and proof--from the administration, and to ensure the follow-through of the policies and programs the board selects.That's a big enough job without having to come up with all the answers too.
On bullying, I don't think we have a policy issue here--that is, I don't think we need more or even better policies addressing this. But we are highly dependent on consistent, thorough follow-through and clear expectations by the leaders in the schools. The district administration has to oversee this and everyone should be held accountable, but the follow-through on our policies must come from leaders and teachers within each school building. The administration and school board have admitted there are follow-through issues at Phillips; now the community has a right to demand that this be turned around, and fast.
On the achievement gap: For far too many years we have said this is a district priority without actually making the changes necessary to see real progress. Our kids can't afford to wait. If this is truly our big priority, then we need to put our money where our mouth is and name a "gap czar" (for lack of a better name): someone specific within the administration whose full-time job it is to close our gap. That person should have the time to research what works, oversee the broad implementation of the solutions quickly and properly, track how they work, drop what doesn't work--again, quickly, because our kids can't wait--and own the progress. Along the way, that person should be taking a close look at classrooms within our own district that have made great strides in closing the gap (I know of one for sure) to understand what lessons could be applied to the entire district. And for the parents of children who are not among those struggling the most, and who would hear this as yet another time where other kids get all the attention--I believe focusing in this way on the gap will benefit all our students; a culture change in our schools is sorely needed that will push every child forward. Culture change may sound like a platitude, but I truly believe we have great potential for closing the gap if we truly commit to new culture of trying new things, having high expectations, focusing on every child's growth, and everyone being accountable to our shared goals.  Without culture change, we will not be able to engage the broader community in ways that Dr. Forcella has articulated as well.  We know we have issues within our schools that are contributing to the gap and need to be addressed quickly for the benefit of all of our students. Nobody (except that grad student) signs up to run for school board because it is an easy job.  Part of what makes it hard is answering tough questions that are sure to irritate someone.  Maybe I didn't answer satisfactorily for you here, but I hope you give partial credit for my engagement -- I'd love to hear your ideas for these tough issues as well.  Feel free to contact me off-line as well -- @jcbarr on Twitter.  http://facebook.com/jcbarr on FB.  jcb@barrettforschools.com for email.  919-593-0592 for voice.  

James, I believe the district has done most of what you are suggesting in their efforts to close the achievement gap. I know they've done the research on what has worked elsewhere, and they've instituted new programs over and over again. But what I have not seen them do (which doesn't mean they haven't done it, just that it hasn't been made public) is an extensive evaluation of where they are missing the boat. Why are programs that work successfully elsewhere not achieving the same kind of results here?  I also think that the community needs to be more actively engaged in selecting solutions, helping with the implementation of the solutions, and evaluating the success/failures. As Mark M says in a round about way, the achievement gap isn't just an educational issue. There are all kinds of issues in the community that impact school success, but in 25 years, I have never seen a real, committed effort to bring the challenges of closing the gap to the community. I firmly believe that as long as this remains a problem for CHCCS only, we will continue to fail.  So as a heads up, when I attend the school board forums, I will be asking questions about evaluating programs and community engagement. 

What I'm saying is not about adding programs which sound good but are not consistently implemented.  Unfortunately, I think we've gotten very good at that.  I fully agree we're not at all good about evaluating or engagement.Take, for example, the Community Action Committee for the Success of All Students -- a "program" put in place a couple of years ago specifically to engage the community in solving the achievement gap.  I've talked with several people who felt the effort was at least better than previous efforts that involved lecturing to parents about all the things they are doing wrong.  This time around, the focus was on dictating to community groups what they need be doing to increase the time the students spend learning.  But there is a real attitude problem in Lincoln Center.  There is incredible mistrust from the African-American community because they get the same feeling that many parents in our district do when they try to talk with folks from Lincoln Center -- they are not listened to.  Therefore, it is hard to create that engagement.  Read the minutes from the last CACSAS meeting here, specifically the comments from the 2 board members towards the bottom.  This group has been meeting for a year and a half and they still need to be told these basic human engagement kind of things?  This is a real issue (and I'm glad those board members are likely to be on the board to continue to work on this).  How do we make it better?  We need Lincoln Center culture to change.  We need the schools in our district to show they are committed to new ways of improving this situation before we ask the community to do more work.   On evaluation, the best example I have is here -- the board asked the administration to provide a summary of every program, how much we're spending on it, and some measure of effectiveness.  They received back a mish-mash of answers, none of which provided much effectiveness information and none of it useful for making hard prioritization calls in the budget cycle.  And this was just overview information that was asked for.  I hate politicians who say we need to run government "like a business," but I have to say that I can't see myself voting for any new programs that don't have clear measurement criteria and a plan for evaluation up front.  And I will continue to push the administration for better data about our existing programs.  Because in these tight budget times, we need to be effective in how we spend money -- spending it where it will help our goals and not spending on ineffective programs that sound good.  Beyond the budget, this same focus on effectiveness applies to the achievement gap in determining what works and then replicating that across the district.  I know there's a dearth of research in upper-middle class districts like ours that are still failing a portion of our kids.  We don't have "failing schools" that need serious turnaround the way urban districts do.  But we also have the advantage of a relatively small number of kids that we need to increase achievement in.  We need to determine what those specific kids need, and see that they get it.  I love the study that Jeff references below (a friend on the Strowd-Roses board had pointed it out to me as those results were released in the spring) - they focused on individuals and got results.  Let's keep that up.I feel lucky to be in an election where I think we almost all agree on the goals.  Trying to explain how I will approach those goals is harder.  I do think we need to do things differently because the results we've had over the past years is not acceptable.  And I don't have a silver bullet to solve the situation. But hopefully I've explained some of how I will approach the issue because I've seen where we've gone wrong in the past.  A past candidate told me just yesterday he feels his focus in many of the same directions that I've answered here cost him the election.  Because I think Jeff and Terri have legitimate questions, I've tried my best to answer. But I'm taking a risk that many voters want this level of candor from candidates.  I believe we need to do things differently if we want different results and the current results are not acceptable to me.

While attending the Biennial Meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, I sat in on a talk by Dr. Jelani Mandara of Northwestern University regarding the achievement gap. His research suggests that the achievement gap can be significantly reduced in one generation. Parent education, parenting styles and cognitive stimulation have a huge impact on the achievement gap. Here's a bit more info from the Northwestern faculty profile. "Jelani Mandara is a family and developmental psychologist. His primary research examines the nature and effects of socialization, father’s involvement, and how they interact with gender, race and SES to impact youths’ academic and social development. He is currently implementing and evaluating a culturally sensitive parent training intervention he developed called B-PROUD. This particular prevention-intervention is focused on mothers of African American sons and covers important topics such as general parenting styles, academic socialization, proactive racial socialization, and boys' development. He and his students also examine how differences in parenting and other family factors account for ethnic and gender disparities in achievement and the likelihood of engaging in risky behavior. He regularly teaches courses and conducts workshops on African American child and adolescent development and effective parenting. He also consults for different schools and non-profit organizations on ways to increase minority achievement. He and his wife Keisha have three adolescent sons and a one-year-old daughter." 

"The administration and school board have admitted there are follow-through issues at Phillips"Ummm. On what planet? They have consistently denied the magnitude and seriousness of the problems at Phillips and maintained a commitment to the narratice that "it will all be okay."James. I want to like you. But that is a reckless and factually innaccurate statement.And yes, you get partial credit for engagement.But only partial. 

My statement had nothing to do with denying the magnitude or a narrative that is wrong. As an outsider, I don't know enough facts to confirm or deny that important portion of the question, thus I didn't try to engage on that. My statement is based on what they actually did say (as referenced here for example), which was:  a) communication was not timely or thorough enough. and b) paperwork was left undone.  To me, that's an admission of follow-through issues.  Sorry if that doesn't meet your definition of factually accurate.   It is obvious to me that there are 2 very divergent narratives between parents and the administration, I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.  I fully agree that this is a serious situation which needs to be handled correctly.  But it is hard to ask candidates to take a firm stance on a situation which is already the subject of a lawsuit and clearly on track for an appeal the school board will hear (whether from parents or an employee), neither of which board members (and potential board members) can comment on.  Calling me reckless for avoiding that portion of the issue is wrong.   I am encouraged on many fronts by what Dr. Forcella has said -- “As with anything, it’s the degree to which programs are being implemented."   He's said repeatedly that leadership by the principals is key to everything schools deliver.  I am hopeful he'll take the right steps to ensure there is great leadership at *all* of our schools, because he understands that's the only way we'll be successful. 

I sincerely hope that candidates are planning to meet with students. Not just the LEAP students, but the kids who have been bullied, the kids who aren't passing every test, the kids who have been shuffled off to Phoenix Academy or the vocational tracking program (forget the name), etc. These kids may not be able to vote, but they will at some time in the near future and they need to have a voice. They need to have someone respect their opinions enough to ask for it, and they need school leadership who cares not just about providing programs but about listening to their critiques of life in CHCCS for the not-so-perfect kids.

Great comments Terri...

An issue that keeps on giving. It has its roots in income inequality and will never be solved, only helped a little, by actions of educators.

Mark, you are just wrong.There are steps that can be taken by educators to ameliorate the achievemnt gap. A recent longitudinal study of students in our district done by the School of Social Work at UNC - a study our family participated in - identified several strategies that could be implemented district wide that would help close the gap.http://ssw.unc.edu/about/news/ESSP_study And here is a link to a study conducted by Duke University researchers of students in North Carolina that shows a persistent racial achievement gap, even when adjusting for SES and family make-up:http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A...To say that it is an unsolveable problem is just not accurate.There are things that can be done, and voters have a right to know where our school board candidates stand on making strides towards closing the achievemnt gap in Chapel Hill.None of us should be willing to stand idly by while a substantial portion of our population flails academically.And no citizen should be willing to throw in the towel on a policy problem because it seems hard. 

Thanks for sharing the link to the SSW study. It reminds me of research we did in Florida on customizing assessments for individual students. Measuring kids progress and abilities against themselves is a great curriculum design tool, and is much more humane IMHO. Current assessment and curriculum planning strategies are still basically founded upon statistical theories that generalize performance based on grade level. 

The ESSP was a really good instrument. My wife is close to finishing her Ph.D. in Instructional Design and had very good things to say. I will defer to both her and your experiences...

Just pointing out one of the major obstacles. Sure there are approaches that ameliorate it. I'm remembering a year-long camp sort of approach in Baltimore maybe? But fundamentally, as long as we have income inequality we will have the "achievement gap". And, of course, the opposite is true - if we spend our time researching and implementing strategies that ameliorate the gap, then aren't we really throwing in the towel on societal inequality and, in a way, facilitating & rationalizing inequality?

is that, if you provide a healthy, loving, appropriately protective environment for kids and a large degree of freedom (while also compassionately steering them a little), they will learn out of joy and curiousity. Humans are primarily learning organisms that are difficult to stop learning.

Last night's school board meeting had some critically important tidbits for anyone concerned with how we move our schools forward (as Dr. Forcella has put it) "from an 'A' district in NC to an 'A' district nationwide."Here's the specific testing package they reviewed --  http://chccs.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=8&meta_id=4250.  It is very well put together. First, the board is clearly focused on the importance of growth for all students.  NC does provide a growth metric, and the district is just starting to use this to focus all the principals on growth for every student (the example last night was a school that focused on improved proficiency last year and it shows that they didn't achieve high growth. They understand that now and are committed to focusing on both this year).  Our testing director is working to get the NC data useable at a teacher level so we can really align our metrics from school board down to level where it makes a difference.Second, I love that Greg McElveen brought up (and Jamezetta Bedford had already been thinking about) the need for a "dashboard" that the board will look at on a regular basis to see progress more than yearly.  I had previously posted about this on my website, and it is great to see it happening.  If all stakeholders know what we're measuring on a regular basis, we're more likely to make progress.Third, there was mention in the meeting about a standardized assessment for all elementary schools.  I have a friend in the district who told me about this before -- it is software that will track all the pre- and post-tests we give for each unit so we have in a central place a measure of growth for each student that we can compare.  http://www.spectrumk12.com/exceed/rti/ if you want to see what's coming.Fourth, there was promise of even better growth data (including by sub-group) in September.  While there are many factors that influence where a child ends up in standardized testing, we as a district can and should expect that each and every child grows a full years worth (or more) of education for every year they spend in school.  We're not there yet, but having the right data and focus from the board and administration can get us there.  Fifth, there was mention of how Common Core Standards will allow us to compare how we're doing against national benchmarks.  And it will allow collaboration between teachers across the nation on how best to teach that same curriculum.  Ms. Villwock described how she works with principals today to encourage sharing of methods that work across the district.  I'd love to see us take the lead in use of a wiki for this collaboration to happen at a teacher level.  Teachers are the ones who have great ideas.  Sharing them only helps more students, so let's do it.  At IBM, we have a program which recognizes people in their performance reviews for how much their good ideas are used across the company.  Perhaps we can get some local businesses to chip in gift certificates for teachers who share great ideas to improve education for all. Dr. Trice left last night before I had a chance to mention this to him, but I look forward to continuing to push for this on the board. Finally, not mentioned last night that I'd like to see how we can improve -- more public sharing of data.  If the school board has a dashboard, wouldn't it be great for each school to have one as well. Post it in the lobby and website for all who care to see -- how is this school doing on the measures we expect (in more real-time than the NC report card that is up there now).  We already highlight "teachers of the year" publicly, but that's pretty subjective.  How about highlighting teachers who really excel at the goals as well?  Who are the teachers who are producing high growth, full proficiency?  You can do it at a PLC level to encourage cooperation if you want.  But we need to celebrate great accomplishments!   We're already ahead of most districts in the state.  But we also know we're not  succeeding for each and every child.  My vision for our schools is that we best serve all of our kids by making sure each and every one receives a great education.  And this shift in how we view the data is critical to making sure that happens.

Just received an email from Jamezetta Bedford that "OP's own" Gerry Cohen let the County Board of Elections know they goofed in how they listed the seats for filing.  There is a local law on the books which says the 2 year term has to go to the 5th place finisher (ie, there will only be one ballot for CHCCS school board - vote for 5).  Of course, absentee ballots have already gone out with Jamezetta unopposed, and she has been telling folks she's unopposed, so they're not prepared to vote for her.  She's willing to serve a four year term if one of the top 4 vote-getters, but it is just a mess at this point. 

Back in 1973, the Orange County Board of Elections put a school board vacancy on the ballot separately for a two-year term. (Peachee Wicker was elected to that seat). The school board was not happy, and I believe they voted for legislation to require it be on the ballot with the other seats, in any case the 1975 General Assembly approved this change http://www.ncleg.net/enactedlegislation/sessionlaws/html/1975-1976/sl197..."Sec. 4. Vacancies occurring on the Chapel
Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education for any reason other than by expiration of
the term shall be filled by appointment of the remaining members of the Board.
If the member being replaced was serving in the last two years of his four-year
term, the appointment to fill the vacancy is for the remainder of the unexpired
term. Otherwise, the term of the person appointed to fill the vacancy extends to
the first Monday in December next following the first regular school board
election held more than 40 days after the vacancy occurs, and at that election,
a person shall be elected to the seat vacated, either to the remainder of the
unexpired term or, if the term has expired, to a full term.
If at any election for members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro
City Board of Education vacancies have occurred and there are both regular
four-year terms and two-year unexpired terms to be filled by election, the
candidates elected with the greatest numbers of votes shall be elected for
regular four-year terms, and the candidates elected with the lowest numbers of
votes shall be elected to fill the remainder of the unexpired terms"  Chapel Hill and Carrboro have similar local act provisions in their charters.    

Good afternoon School Board Candidates,I wanted to inform you that the Board of Elections was notified by a staff attorney with the General Assembly yesterday around 5:00 p.m. that the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education contest vacated by Joe Green was listed incorrectly on the ballot.  The 2-year unexpired term was listed separately with one unopposed candidate.  A local bill enacted in 1975 states that “That if any election for members of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education vacancies have occurred and there are both regular four-year terms and two-year unexpired terms to be filled by election, the candidates elected with the greatest numbers of votes shall be elected for regular four-year terms, and the candidates elected with the lowest numbers of votes shall be elected to fill the remainder of the unexpired terms.” My office and obviously others were not aware of this unique act pertaining to the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education until yesterday afternoon.  We have already corrected our sample ballots which are posted on our website under “Revised Sample Ballots.  Fortunately, our election day ballots have not been printed yet.  Twenty absentee ballots were mailed containing the school board contest.  We have already contacted all but 2 absentee voters to inform them that they will be receiving a new ballot with the school board contest merged.  All absentee ballots emailed overseas have already received their corrected ballot.  I apologize for any inconvenience or confusion that this may have caused.  I can assure you we are taking every action to correct this matter and will do anything I can to ensure voters are aware that for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Board of Education contest that voters have a choice of voting for FIVE candidates whose names will be listed in alphabetical order.  I have already spoken to the News and Observer, WCHL and the Indy.  Please contact me if I can provide any additional information at this time. Tracy Reams, DirectorOrange County Board of Elections

quick and effective work all.

Based on Gerry Cohen's excellent catch of a 1975 provision that everyone involved was unaware of, we were able to stop the incorrect OC ballots from being printed.  This provision is unique to the CH/Carrboro School Board.  The BOE staff (particularly director Tracy Reams, who was all over this after she learned about it around 5PM last night) has corrected this before  ballots were printed and she has already gotten our voting machines reprogrammed.  20 absentee ballots were sent with the wrong info, and staff has contacted 18 of those voters so far.  New absentee ballots should be going out in the next few days, and all who requested absentee ballots overseas by email have already received their corrected ballot. New sample ballots have been posted on the BOE website.I've called Gerry to thank him, but I'd also like to publicly thank him for bringing this to the board's attention.The new ballot will list 8 school board candidates, and voters will select 5.  There will be no separate "2 year" candidate, rather the lowest vote getter will fill that term.  We are sorry for any confusion this may cause, but I appreciate the work that Tracy and her staff has done to fix this quickly.  Jim White, BOE Chair

Gerry,Even though you now live in Raleigh we know that your heart never really left Orange County.  Thanks for the great help in this situation and all the other things you've done and continue to do for our entire region over the years.

Thanks Jim for the quick action.  Most of the 16 "city" school boards in the state have their own peculiar election vacancy law contained in a local act of the General Assembly. -- the default if no law is that the city council fills vacancies for the remainder of the unexpired term. In fact the Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen filled vacancies on the school board until 1955. I knew this one because I worked in drafting it in '75. Lexington and Thomasville city school boards aren't even an elective office.

If folks want more history or commentary on filling vacancies in local office, I've started another blog http://www.orangepolitics.org/2011/10/filling-vacancies-school-boardAs to whether a two year term or four year term is better, I'm reminded of the W.C. Fields adage: "They had a contest -- first prize is one week in Philadelphia, second prize is two weeks in Philadelphia."

NBC was doing a give-away before the 2006 Olympics.  1st place was a trip for the family to Universal Studios and a big party to watch opening ceremonies.  2nd place was a 42" TV and a party for 50 at your house to watch opening ceremonies.  I was really happy to win the TV (which I still own and use) -- we were in the market for one as we were building a new house.  It was a great party, too -- they provided everything except alcohol, which we set out to let folks put in the free Coca-Colas.  They sent a party guy to decorate, get food at Southern Season.  And we had an Olympic Gold-Medal winner there to give a speach (unfortunately, he later lost his medal because of doping scandal and committed suicide, but it was a great speach).  All much better than a trip and some photos.

I heard this on WCHL and was amazed by candidate Raymond Conrad's position on funding Special Education:  The entire article can be found at http://www.chapelboro.com/School-Board-Candidates-Talk-Tough-Decisions-On-Up/11159520"The candidates also addressed the hard question of which areas need to be cut even more. Challenger Raymond Conrad says when it comes to special education, certain savings might be beneficial.“Mainstreaming saves about two thirds of what the cost is of educating,” he says. “I think special education could even be strengthened more with less money. It’s one of those areas that doesn’t necessarily depend on money, but rather depends on process.”Conrad adds that in some situations, placing special education students in mainstream classes would be the best course of action, both financially and for the child’s well-being.“If a student doesn’t have a lot of behavior or disruption problems, many times, he or she can do quite well in a mainstream class,” he says. “I think there has to be more opportunity for them to do that. In addition, that’s how we’re going to save some real money"Discuss.....


That was the first event I've seen Ray at.  It isn't clear to me that he has a real sense of our schools in Chapel Hill.  I certainly don't support the statement he made -- students need to be educated in appropriate environment for their situation.  Those who can be mainstreamed, great.  Those who need part-time services, CHCCS is fully supportive of that as well.  And we offer self-contained for those students who need that environment.  I don't see any serious board member advocating that we change that model, because it is focused on addressing  individual student needs and the feedback I've heard is that it works overall.  Where we run into issues in our district is around consistent follow-through of plans sometimes.  Those situations need to be addressed and resolved; not because the parent is having to push every day for the teacher (and others) to do what's in the plan, but because the teacher is open about what's happening and making sure we're living up to the values we profess in Chapel Hill/Carrboro about educating every student.  Consistent follow-through, monitored and pushed by great principal leadership, is the key to making that happen.  The board also plays a role in setting policies that ensure we are addressing individual student needs (instead of just federal requirements for things such as class size) and providing funding to ensure we have high quality teachers and assistants working with this population.  I didn't hear Ray's interview, but if he's quote accurately here, I severely differ from him in looking at our special needs population as an area to reduce cost.

Stunt candidate Brian Bower has released the following statement:

All concerned parties,

As of October 19, 2011 I have officially withdrawn my candidacy for one of the seats on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education. This message has been or will be sent to all of the Board of Education candidates including the current chair of the CHCCS Board of Education, Ms. Jamezetta Bedford, and other selected agencies.

My decision to withdraw my candidacy was motivated in part due to the remote possibility that my candidacy might jeopardize the re-election of Ms. Bedford, who until recently was running unopposed for a two-year seat on the Board of Education but whom has recently been put in the disadvantaged position of running against candidates whom have been actively campaigning for the contested 4-year seats. My decision was also motivated by the recent decision of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Graduate School to approve my application for classification as an in state student for tuition purposes.

Due to the unfortunate timing of these events, my name will still appear on the ballots and I may still garner a few votes despite the fact I will not accept a position on the Board of Education. Educating the voters may help minimize the impact these votes may have on the outcome of the election. While I no longer have any stake in the Board of Education race I am aware that the parents and students of the district and the candidates for and members of Board of Education do have such a stake.

As such I leave it to all concerned parties to publicize my withdrawal from the race as much or as little as they see fit. As I am no longer a candidate and as I do not wish to further influence the outcome of the election I will decline any interview requests until the results of the election are announced.


Brian Bower



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