1.) Low wealth neighborhoods and underperforming schools have high correlation. However, school leadership and staff are held accountable for the academic consequence resulting from food insecurity, unstable family, and even dangerous neighborhood. Wholesale replacement of a school staff is often seen as the best answer to raise student achievement. What else is being done before replacing trusted school staff which leads to yet another disruption in the life of a child? (submitted by a retired public school teacher)
2.) Is it correct that Common Core Initiative began with a substantial amount of private funds which the NC Dept. of Education agreed to accept and agreed to the terms of the offer. Individual County Boards of Education then agreed to sign on and accept the terms in order to receive a proportion of the funds. Neither of those events were a part of a public hearing or local votes. Correct? It seems to us that this is a nationalization of our schools, a loss of local authority and control, and a move to place local schools in the same category of national health. Where does Alamance County stand on this issue, and who will provide the funding for teacher training, textbooks and other unknown expenses to make this work? (Submitted by Dale Steele, Burlington)
3.) While more than a trillion dollars has been poured into public education in the last 50-plus years, illiteracy rate has increased more than 30 times. Aggregately speaking, would you agree or disagree that in order to have a successful school system we must have families where the best possible scenario is a mom and a dad that are fully committed and engaged in the process of assisting the teachers in education students in the fundamentals of reading, writing and arithmetic with the understanding that disrespect in the classroom will not be tolerated. Yes, no, why or why not? (Submitted by John Oakes, Burlington)
4.) Many parents try very hard to get the best education for their children. Some more in order to get their children into what is perceived as the best public school in an area. Others, if they can afford it, will send their children to private schools or charter schools or home school. But the poor typically do not have most of these choices. My heart breaks over the lack of school choice in our county, and nation, especially in the poorest neighborhoods. It seems inherent in public school administrations and teachers’ unions to fight tooth-and-nail against parental choice when it comes to children’s education -- be it home school, private school, charter school, or even allowing parents to choose the best public school for their children to attend, even if it’s not in their neighborhood. Preventing choice strangles competition, the very element which inspires human nature in striving to excel. Doesn’t it seem this push by the public schools and teachers’ unions to prevent choice is a way of fighting for what is best for themselves instead of fighting as advocates for the children they claim to serve? (Submitted by Chris Davis)
5.) With poor relative pay to other states, the elimination of tenure, the removal of incentive for a master’s degree, the reduction of classroom supply budget and promotion of alternative schools as the answer to underperforming schools, what do you say to the 15 year veteran teacher in the system to keep them in NC classrooms? (Submitted by Pete Glidewell, Elon)
6.) When will ABSS look into possible redistricting to save money in athletics? Our high school teams must drive all over the region because of conference alignment. The problems we see are 1.) Cost of transporting athletes throughout region; 2.) Time spent by athletes and coaches due to time required to drive long distances to games; 3.) Need for more completion among ABSS schools to promote a sense of community increase revenue and better attendance at sporting events. Additionally there are empty classrooms at some schools and overcrowding at other schools. (Submitted by Ed and Irene Burgess)
1.) Is it just to deny parents who are in poverty the opportunity to choose where their child attends school? Why must this choice only be for those with substantial means?
2.) As an educator who taught in ABSS for six years, I reject the notion that lack of funding is an insurmountable challenge. I found the schools had solid funding but that the money was frequently used on resources that parents, teachers, and students would not have prioritized. What is being done and can be done to ensure that these stakeholders have a “say” in how the money is spent?
3.) What are the merits of weaning ourselves off federal funding?
4.) Dr. Cox says Governor McCrory’s recommendation to increase young teacher’s pay to $35,000 “further burdens” ABSS funds. I thought she would happily support increase in teacher pay. Can she respond?
5.) How do you propose closing the achievement gap between the more affluent schools and those schools that are struggling?
6.) What is “adequate” funding?
How will schools improve without better funding? What will improve our schools?
Under what circumstances would you raise taxes to fund schools?
7.) As a student teacher in ABSS I have seen funds “randomly” found (much like McCrory found $10 million for education) and also seen funds not adequately collected from lost textbooks and other supplies. How can we ensure that we are appropriately using and collecting funds?
8.) Mr. Allison: Wouldn’t people choose alternative schools less often if the public education system was funded to the extent required for it to be the best system and providing the best educational opportunities? (Submitted by Bob Byrd, Candidate for County Commissioner)
9.) What do you say to the parent of the child who’s not grasping the abstract and higher thinking concepts of the common core before having a good foundation to build on?
10.) If we have high standards for our students, shouldn’t we have high standards for educators as well? Can you speak a little about teacher tenure and the plan locally and at the state wide level? How do we ensure teachers deserve tenure and it is based upon more than just numbers?
11.) Mr. Riddell: How much impact did reducing taxes on the wealthier segment of our population have on the ability to fund public education needs? (Submitted by Bob Byrd, Candidate for County Commissioner)
12.) What is your most compelling idea (whether funding, policy or program) that might represent a game-changer for Alamance County K-12?
13.) How can schools improve without better funding? Many people in the community want taxes for education increased but our politicians say this won’t happen -- they are not listening to the will of the people. What will it take to raise taxes?
14.) I visited schools in the largest slum in Kenya. It was in Nairobi. One teacher had about 40 students per class. The teachers had a blackboard and chalk, students shared paper and pencils. Students I saw in K-8 were fluent in 3 languages: tribal, English, and Kenyan. Students were doing math and science at our equivalent grade levels. These teachers were barely paid. What is the correlation between teacher pay and student performance?
15.) As someone new to this community, who wants very much to live here, the only negative factor is K-12 education. Local investment in education is a signal of what matters -- or doesn’t -- to the community. Guilford and Orange counties appear to care more about quality education from the innovation and investment they make. What assurance do I have that choosing to put down roots in Alamance County is a wise investment in my kids’ education?
16.) Please address how increased Benchmark testing, End of Grade testing and in particular Read to Achieve testing helps students to learn more when by implementing all these tests actual instruction time has decreased. And how much does all this testing cost?
17.) There are too many ineffective teachers in our school system (still with tenure). Get rid of them -- Get them to retire early and get those new graduates who are motivated, inspiring and care about our students! Please respond?
18.) The most important thing we can do for our students is put/keep highly qualified teachers in the classroom. I talk to people everyday who say they will pay higher taxes for teacher pay increases. How can [our community] raise revenue for high teacher pay?