Forum for CHCCS School Board candidates sponsored by PAGE, NAACP, and PTA Council


Wednesday, September 28, 2011 - 7:00pm to 9:00pm


Chapel Hill Town Hall, Council Chambers

News ReleaseSeptember 13, 2011

For Immediate ReleaseContact: Emily Martine (919) 933-5222Margaret Samuels (919) 699-4400Lalanii Sangode (919) 636-7557 School
Board Candidates Forum Set for September 28
Chapel Hill, NC -- Candidates for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Board of
Education will respond to questions from the public at a forum to be held on
Wednesday, September 28th from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Council Chamber of Chapel
Hill Town Hall.The forum is sponsored by the district PTA Council, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro
chapter of the NAACP Education Committee and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro chapter
of Partners for the Advancement of Gifted Education (PAGE).School board candidates who have accepted the invitation to participate
in the forum are James Barrett, Jamezetta Bedford, Mia Burroughs, Kris
Castellano, Mike Kelley and Annetta Streeter.Commenting on the first-time partnership of the three sponsoring
organizations, PTA Council President Margaret Samuels said, “It’s very exciting
that these organizations that work on behalf of families are collaborating. The
questions will be truly encompassing. I hope representatives of all the PTAs
will attend.”The school district traditionally has been supportive of educational
excellence, she said, but the PTA Council is concerned about the prospect of
additional budget cuts, and the effect of those cuts on funds that the District
has set aside for a rainy day. She said the public will also be interested in
the proposed quarter-cent sales tax and its impact on the school budget.The Council continues to be concerned with closing the achievement gap
between white students and minority students, this and decreasing the
suspension and expulsion rates has been the focus of the NAACP .“We’re concerned with equity and accountability, and seeing that there
is follow-through on the data that is collected and how to gain a quality
education for all students,” said Lalanii Sangode, a member of the NAACP
Education Committee. “We want to know why we continue to lag in reading and
math, why that varies from one school to another.”Emily Martine, chair of PAGE, said that she believes all three
sponsoring organizations want schooling that will enable children to meet the
demands of working and thriving in the twenty-first century. “Our community should aim for excellence, and that includes making sure
that all children are appropriately challenged and stimulated to reach their
true potential,” she said.  “We hear district administrators beginning to talk about a challenging
and engaging educational experience that provides growth for every child,” she
said, “but the primary measure of success -- which puts
tremendous pressure on our teachers and many students -- continues to be the
percentage of students who score at proficiency level on end-of-grade tests. We look forward to hearing the candidates’ views on measurements that go
beyond proficiency and beyond EOGs, and to their ideas on how best to prepare
all students to think critically and creatively.”Ms. Sangode said there is value in parents actually being present with
the people who represent them on the school board, and that parents need to
know directly about such matters as how disciplinary policies affect them, how
standardized tests are used, how parents can advocate for their children &
be supported in Individual Education Plans for their children, and what
resources are available to them.Navigating the system was a concern expressed by both Ms. Sangode and
Emily Martine.“The gifted plan is long, complex and not fully understood by the
majority of parents in our district,” Ms. Martine said. “The school system
currently is not recognizing the gifts of a lot of bright kids who may not have
had the preparation or opportunities other kids have had, or who are not native
English speakers, or are twice-exceptional learners, or who don’t raise their
hands and speak up in class.““In part our goal is to ensure that all students receive an equitable
education that gives them the tools to attend college. We know that there are
African American students with wonderful gifts, and we know that there is
little funding for gifted and the nurturing portion of gifted education,” Ms.
Sangode said.“It’s all relevant,” she said. “If something is affecting one segment of
the community, it’s affecting all of us, they are all our children.”Members of the public may submit questions for the candidates online through
the end of September 21st. The form for
submitting questions is at more
information visit Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP: CHCCS PTA Council:, click on “Family
Resources” then “PTA.” Chapel Hill PAGE: www.ChapelHillPAGE.orgThe Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools PTA council and Chapel Hill PAGE
are also on Facebook.


I think the collaboration between PAGE (Partners for Gifted Education) and the NAACP (concerned with helping students on the other side of the acheivement gap) is at least as strange as the Sierra Club/Chamber of Commerce forum. I wonder how this came about?Either way we can be sure to not get many straight answers to the age-old debate over whether to fund programs for gifted or at-risk kids.

The PTA Council had some turnover in leadership this year (including my wife who organized the last forum obviously not participating in this year's), and thus reached out to PAGE for some technical advice which turned into a collaboration (partly because of limited dates available at Council chambers).  I don't know how the NAACP exactly got involved, although I know one of their leaders serves on a SIT with a PAGE leader.I've always hated the way the district has positioned groups like the NAACP and PAGE (even LEAP vs non-LEAP within PAGE) as fighting for funding.  These debates hide any look at what are the most effective ways to allocate funding for all kids.  The administration every year proposes cuts that various groups will scream about instead of looking from the ground up of how our spending aligns with our priorities.  So we fight over Gifted Specialists and Literacy Coaches instead of some "sacred cow" that has little academic impact.  And no, I'm not going to suggest a particular one because we don't have the data and analysis from the district to show what spending is actually effective.  The board asked for this last year, but didn't receive. Where was the follow-up to ensure a public discussion of funding aligned with priorities?

I completely agree with James that the district has actively positioned groups so that they attack each other instead of coming together to insist that the district provide rigor for all students. I would go farther and suggest that defining the primary problem in our district as the achievement gap is part of this policy of distraction. The real problem is lack of rigor/challenge/growth for all. Put it this way, would the NAACP be satisfied by the gap narrowing through white students' scores dropping significantly? I don't think so. Parents of gifted students, fragile learners, special needs students, etc. need to realize that they have the same goal -- their children deserve to be challenged and experience significant growth each year.

Thanks, Janet.  I had a great conversation about this with a leader in Northside just today -- it is very interesting to see the community come together with this common vision for what our priorities should be.

I don't think it's strange at all. I (PAGE member, former GPAC member) was sitting with Liz Carter at a community meeting with the new superintendent. Our list of problems with the district were identical: parents shouldn't have to advocate/fight with schools to get their student's needs met; programs should be implemented consistently across schools; students should experience high expectations and rigorous curricula.


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