PTA Forum tonight

I'll be checking this out tonight in my on-going attempt to better understand school board issues. You can submit questions for the forum online. I think my question would be: can you please explain all these programs and proposals in plain English instead of acronyms and code words? Oh and: are you willing to sacrifice a little of your own family's privilege to create more opportunities for less advantaged children?

CHCCS Board of Education Candidate Forum
Hosted by the PTA Council and League of Women Voters

Monday October 15th
Chapel Hill Town Council Chambers, 405 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Live on Time Warner Cablevision Channel 18

Moderated by Vicki Boyer, League of Women Voters
- PTA Council - Home

The PTA also promised to post the results of it's municipal questionnaire on it's web site today, but I don't see it there yet. Will keep checking.

Is it just me or is it weird that the PTA web site is hosted by school system? Shouldn't they be more independent?



Is it just me or is it weird that the PTA web site is hosted by school system? Shouldn't they be more independent?

The PTA Council domain name is and can be moved to its own hosting account when someone wants to put in the effort to create and provide ongoing management.

The PTA controls the content of each PTA content area within each school's website and within the PTA Council website. The school district has a site license to a web authoring and hosting environment which is easy to use. Also, once parents learn to use the environment, their skills carry over to other PTA's in the district as well as to help teachers and other school organizations manage their web content. Bottom line is that we can move if we need to but our basic needs are currently being met and each PTA's content integrates nicely with other content and navigation within each school.

The Chapel Hill candidate answers will be published this evening and Carrboro's on Friday.

My Question:
Would you be willing to cut all funding for LEAP and/or sports programs until such a time that all special needs children have real classrooms with appropriate supplies and equipment versus what is available now:

Unlike Debbie Hill's classroom, which is inside Ephesus, for several years this teacher taught significantly handicapped children in detached classrooms that had no bathrooms, sinks or running water. The children often had accidents in class; they couldn't wash their hands, an important skill in learning to care for themselves. "I had a child with seizure disorder and who was paralyzed on one side and we had to go out of the trailer to the bathroom," she said. "The computers had nicer rooms than we did."

Mark Peters is kicking off the forum now. He is reminding watchers that they can submit questions at

(I'm watching on TV so I can multitask. Sorry.)

Still time to come down. Twelve citizens, a handful of journalism students and a couple reporters.

Moderator Vicki Boyer is beginning. She asked all the candidates to beware of using acronyms. Thanks!

Mark P. is going to push the forum up on the 'net so I'll probably just watch vs. 'blog.

Opening statements....

Gary W. - tells the story of Juan Sanchez in NY 30 years ago...

Jamezetta Bedford's opening statement was very flat. She's for kids, etc. Sounds like an administrator. What's "EC?"

Gary Wallach opened with a story showing the power of education in children's lives.

Anetta Streater's introduction covres some of her background and explains that she wants to meet challenges with limited resources.

Mi Burroughs said that we must continue to do a great job with gifted students while also serving other groups. Mentions her experience compiling school history and serving on a school governance committee (SGC).

Mike Kelly shared his family's background in and out of Chapel Hill. Talk about his work on the school board.

First question is about technology in the schools. All of the candidates feell that it is essential for students to have access to technology, but the system is not going to provide them. Some offerred proposals about how to help, like partnering with community and government organizations.

Use of computers in school. Old equipment and limited network access - how to solve?

Mike K. - use capital improvement plan over 6 years to upgrade - desk space at a premium - teachers should have laptops - district can provide equipment look to the Town's for connectivity.

Mia B. - concerned about digital divide, need to team

Anetta S. - will advocate for better services, data services key

Gary W. - storage capacity at a premium (to many bytes, not enough disk)

Jamezetta B. - team with Towns, needs a liaison

This is a frustrating question as I and others have pressed to build the bridge from our side back to the school district. It's irksome that Laurin's efforts have been stalled by inactivity.

If elected, I will volunteer to be the Council liaison to the schools on connectivity and bridging the digital divide. I think I know who to tap to get the job done.

Big questions with lots of context - 60 seconds is just not long enough to explain something like the achievement gap or inequity between schools.

Mike K. - %3-4 is federal monies, that out of $115 million budget

Context, should the CHCCS reject No Child Left Behind requirements.

Will, I agree. It's hard to tell anything about the candidates other than their personality in 30-60 seconds. I know which one's I'd rather have a beer with, but voting...?

On that note, Vicki now says they are going to switch to 90-second answers with 60-second responses. The next question is about the Schools Adequate Public Facilities Ordinance (SAPFO).

We had discussion on that and were going to use variable length based on the question, but scrapped it at the last second due to complexity. We are going to 90 and 60.

So did they skate past the No Child Left Behind issue?

Actually Mark, they asked whether the schools should turn down federal funds when they are contingent on testing instead of teaching (something like that). Mia Burroughs simply said "no," others had more vague answers (or I just can't remember).

Essentially they all agreed they want to keep the money.

Most mentioned working with our legislative reps. to make alterations to NCLB.

Mike Kelley had an interesting additional take - that Board must lead the kids by example (I get that) and not challenge the Federal government (OK, got to disagree on that as a fixed lesson).

The "gangs" issue. Gary W. - unintentionally I'm sure - just made Carrboro H.S. sound like a super-max facility with its 37 internal cameras and electronic self-locking doors.

A question about merging the city and county schools!

Bedford: Opposed. Says it will cost more and serve kids worse. Says she is "inflexible about it."

Wallach: Agrees with Bedford.

Streater: Does not support merger to dilute tax burden. Collaboration is too much of a strain on the district. Kids do better in a smaller setting.

Burroughs: Opposed to merger. "Bigger isn't better." Says this may change over time and that the districts may find this more appealing in the future. Do need to raise more taxes to pay for schools.

Kelley: "The one advantage to merging is that we can stop talking about it." People want self-determination, they want to control their own schools and don't want to pay more taxes. The State might act to stop funding more than one district in each county.

Had to leave on a few questions that showed some room between the candidates - the role of testing and mandated curriculum, school governance and the diminished role for parents.

Until tonight most of the candidates were just names on a ballot, nice that the PTA sponsored this event. I look forward to seeing the video.

Closing remarks:

Streater: Read her statement... "Elect me if you want continued responsiveness to the issues that are important to you."

Burroughs: Youth policy advocate, volunteer. Wants to engage in dialog, will continue to work for schools, mentions her website

Kelley: Focused on student achievement.

Bedford: Brings financial experience as a CPA, has a very diverse family educationally (from a med student, to one with severe retardation, to an average student). Will advocate for children and for staff.

Wallach: Nonprofit management, advocacy, volunteer experience. Educational fairness and equal opportunities, involving parents.

I think the video of this will be posted at at some point.

Ruby and Will, thanks for the summary.

Was there any discussion of students of color, especially black kids, relative to their performance compared to white kids? Or other forms of racism in the school system?

Were there any questions that touched on race? How about family income, immigrant status, or class?

Are any of the candidates people of color? Do any seem representative of people other than wealthy Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents?

(And I have a pretty good excuse for not watching the forum myself: streaming video is p a i n f u l l y s l o w over here in these parts.)

Somebody correct me if I am mistaken about any of this, but here is a broad outline of the School Board race:

There are four seats and only five candidates. The incumbents are:
Jamezetta Bedford
Annetta Streater
Mike Kelley

The challengers are:
Mia Burroughs
Gary Wallach

I could not comment on which candidates are addressing the issues you asked about. But, to directly answer one of your questions, so far as I know, Annetta Streater is an African-American and is the only person of color on the ballot in that race.

There was another candidate Mehar Safvi, but he has withdrawn. I'm not sure whether his name will be on the ballot.

Joan, there is also a very interesting map located here:

The yellow dots on the map show the home addresses of the school board candidates. There is a very discernable pattern, although I will leave it to you to interpret what that means.

The outlying data point is Mr. Wallach who lives south of the bypass in Carrboro, while all of the others are more or less in Northeast Chapel Hill. Although I think from looking at all of the candidates addresses that Annetta Streater is the only candidate who lives in a condo or townhouse. I'm not sure what any of that means, but it is interesting.

The purple bubbles on that map are the Carrboro BOA/Mayor candidates and the blue (teal?) ones are the Chapel Hill Town Council/Mayor candidates. To me, a pattern is less discernable in the town elections, except in that there are four candidates running in Carrboro who live in the area that was annexed two years ago.

Mark, thanks, that's really helpful, though not exactly encouraging.

Anyone care to share their school board race endorsements?


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