Thursday, October 27, 2011

Six more school board candidates make their cases

Fourteen people are listed on the Nov. 8 Mecklenburg County ballot seeking one of three at-large seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. The Observer editorial board asked them to submit an essay on why they should be elected. Twelve responded.
We published the first six responses online Wednesday and in print today. Go to to read their responses. Here are the other responses.
Ken Nelson
My name is Ken Nelson, and I want to restore trust between Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools and the community. I want to open up our meetings, our processes, our budget and our decisions to the community at large.
Currently, the board tends to make decisions based upon the will of outside groups, rather than for the good of our students and community. Our schools and our children are being used as experiments by outside foundations. The board talks about reform, but it seems to be reform for the sake of reform, rather than for the betterment of the schools.
Our schools are failing. The dropout rate is abysmal. The teacher retention rate is terrible. Yet all we do as a board is throw more tests at children and use the results to grade our teachers. This model needs to end.
We need to challenge our students. We need to demand excellence, not by a score on a standardized test, but by encouraging all children to strive for success in life. We also need to reinstate effective disciplinary action to mitigate safety issues. If children are scared to come to school, it stands to reason that they will not do well.
Thank you.
Hans Peter Plotseneder
At this point in my life, I feel I must serve my community and give back by sharing 25 years of worldwide business experience with IBM and Bank of America plus 11 years of current teaching in CMS as well as my academic background.
My vision, insight and knowledge along with the desire to make a difference led me to run for school board.
My intention is to put our students and teachers first and provide real opportunities by improving the curricula for all children. This will prepare our youth for the job market or college and to be globally competitive.
With establishing a “Parent Advisory Council” grounded in empowered PTSAs, I plan to involve all relevant groups to improve the graduation rate and close the achievement gaps.
I shall specifically request to improve teacher compensation, reinstate teacher pay increases, reward excellent performance, appoint the right superintendent, and empower teachers in a professional environment as well as increase local partnerships.
To achieve these goals, I commit to putting 14 strategies in place within the first 180 days in office that are outlined on my website
drplots7and7plan.html. It is time to focus on “Students and Teachers First.”
Aaron J. Pomis
Over the past 10 years as a teacher, administrator and board member, I have closed the achievement gap in my classroom, worked shoulder to shoulder with teachers across CMS, and built bridges in the community while making smart budget choices for our students.
I have woken up every day at 5:30 a.m., ready to work for students because I absolutely believe that we can do a better job fulfilling the promises we make to our children. It’s one thing to make grand campaign promises, but for the past decade I have been living these promises for our children, and I will continue to live these promises for the next four years and beyond.
I am driven to this commitment because I know the students in our community can learn and want to learn. It’s up to us, the adults, to give them the opportunity.
My plan is simple: Provide our teachers with the resources and support they need to succeed, create a strategic budget focused on what works best for students, and galvanize our community to stand behind each and every student.
Vote for Aaron Pomis for school board on November 8th, to unite our community around one mission: student achievement.
Darrin Rankin
The focus of our campaign is 1) to improve the quality of education for all children, 2) increase the level of parental/community involvement in CMS and 3) support principals, teachers and staff.
I will hold meetings in the community to seek input from students, parents, teachers and others in an effort to learn of specific needs for specific schools.
We have to end the cycle of hiring teachers, firing teachers, and hiring teachers. We have to reduce the amount of testing taking place in the classrooms and get back to the task of educating our children.
Too many children are graduating from CMS and they do not have the skill set required to enter the workforce, or to go on to a vocational school or university. We have to do a better job of educating our children.
I have a son in third grade in CMS so I understand how decisions made as a board member trickle down to the classroom level. I understand “how children learn,” the “business of education” and the “politics of education.” I will be a thoughtful decision maker. Vote Rankin for School Board At Large!
Lloyd Scher
I was always supportive of CMS as a county commissioner. I helped raise thousands of dollars from private resources for school projects.
We must change how we prepare school budgets in Mecklenburg and North Carolina. The budget process is very lengthy and messy, and timing issues cause a hardship for teachers, staff and community.
Legislators should prepare an education spending bill before April 1. The county should do the same by April 15. That would allow the school board to complete its budget before May 15, preventing unnecessary layoffs of teachers.
We must rescind House Bill 546, which was written, amended and passed behind the backs of teachers. It has caused an erosion of trust and morale among teachers and community.
We must look at new ways of teaching: for example, Continuity of Education, where a child has the same teacher for K-2 and another teacher for grades 3-5. Teachers would not have to spend time learning individual students’ issues each year, instead deepening their understanding of each child from year to year. Students would benefit from teachers’ deeper understanding. Teachers could plan for the long term based on students’ ability.
Jeff Wise
We offer public education to our children hoping they’ll become thoughtful, engaged adults who will strengthen our community. Our responsibility is providing a quality education to all students. At times, we do this well. Too often we do not. This is our problem: how do we reach all our students successfully?
Let’s develop a strong teacher support system and a robust peer review system that more effectively assesses teacher quality. We must lessen the reliance on standardized testing and let our teachers do what they do best – teach.
Let’s allow every school to tailor its curriculum to engage each student. Let’s continue reaching out to parents and the community to foster an environment of collaboration – if our students are excited about education, our parents and community will be too.
Let’s have our students pursue educational paths that work best for them and teach them critical thinking skills instead of bubbling in circles on tests. A 90 percent graduation rate is meaningless if those students cannot function successfully in the marketplace.
Let’s instead create problem solvers and watch them flourish in our community.
I am a problem solver. I’m running for school board because I understand and will help solve our problems.

Early voting information
Weekdays: Vote early through Nov. 4 from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Hal Marshall Annex, 618 North College Street.
Weekends: Oct. 29 and Nov. 5 (Saturdays) 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Oct. 30 (Sunday) 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Several libraries are also early voting sites. For times and places, go to


Anonymous said...

I know Aaron Pomis professionally and have worked with him, and I know he is a crucial choice for the school board. He has hands-on experience in difficult classrooms in addition to experience managing teachers working in difficult environments. He deserves the position, but more importantly, the students deserve him.