Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Their turn: School board candidates make their case

Fourteen people are on the ballot Nov. 8 seeking one of three at-large seats on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education. The Observer’s editorial board asked each to submit an essay on why voters should choose them.

(We asked the same question in September of City Council candidates.)

Twelve school board candidates replied. Here are the responses, alphabetically, of six. We'll publish the other six on Friday.

Larry Bumgarner

Have we not advanced in our society well enough to our present 2011? Yes 2011, the year where everything should be on the table that will educate our kids – charter schools, vouchers, hybrids of charter and public schools, treating teachers like professionals/assets, schools of one, etc.

If you agree, then I am worth the gas it will take to drive to the polls to cast a yes vote. Go to,, or if you live in Charlotte. Or if you live in Mecklenburg County, go to,, or See why I do not want your kids to learn how to use technology but create technology and we average citizens can make our system just a system of education and no longer an agenda-driven mess which has taken the focus off achievement and success.

Whatever the focus of your vote or if you are not even voting at least come up with some ideas to help our teachers. Go to Give your ideas on how we can reward our great teachers, and help keep them in the classroom as well as entice them into the more challenged schools.

Elyse Dashew

I am passionate about strengthening our public education system, and improving opportunities for all children. We face huge challenges in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. We can only meet these challenges by working together, and including all voices in the process. We must collaborate to solve these problems – our community’s well-being and economic prosperity depend upon raising our graduation rate and narrowing our achievement gap. I have the skills and the commitment to help bring this about.

I am a Brown University graduate, a businesswoman, the mother of two CMS students, and a nine-year CMS volunteer, School Leadership Team chair, and public school advocate. Most recently I co-founded MeckFUTURE, which unified families from 40 schools and many different zip codes, backgrounds, and world views. This coalition appealed to our elected officials to restore funding and avoid teacher layoffs. Our effort was successful because we communicated clearly and respectfully, worked hard, held each other accountable, and focused on solutions. This is exactly the approach that I intend to bring to the school board.

Ericka Ellis-Stewart

I am running for school board because we are facing challenges that require great leadership in the boardroom. I have served as a committed advocate within our schools for the past 17 years, working to improve student achievement and rallying parents to get engaged in education.

My efforts have always focused on the needs of children and families. My experience as a nonprofit executive and community advocate give me a unique perspective on the issues facing our children, our schools and our community. Professionally, I bring real world experience in the areas of drop-out prevention, on-time graduation and gang intervention. My primary goals are:

Provide each child with a quality education. Prepare students to graduate on time, successfully pursue higher education or compete in the global marketplace and become productive citizens.

Ensure that every school is equipped to become a school of excellence that’s desirable to students and parents regardless of its location.

Equip each classroom with a well- trained, highly-effective teacher. Provide every school with a team of prepared and engaged administrators.

Require efficient, equitable and transparent budget decisions that meet the operating/capital needs of a large urban/suburban district.

Vote for great leadership on November 8. Cast your ballot for Ericka Ellis-Stewart.

Keith W. Hurley

On July 1st of 2011, I announced as one of the first candidates that I was running for the CMS board. What moved me to run was that I care for my public education community, am concerned about the direction and business decisions CMS has taken, am capable of the position with my 25-year background as a community leader, and am committed to advancing the quality of our public education system. We are deemed a “world-class city with a mediocre public education system at best.” This needs to change.

The board has let itself be influenced by numerous outside interest groups that have not helped. The Broad Foundation, Gates Foundation and Spangler money have all found their way into CMS pockets. A little of it is good, but a lot of it is paybacks for influence. We have added over testing and extended the school days, which resulted in negative results across CMS. A new topic has come out recently with school board taxing authority which I strongly oppose! We need to go back to basics. Neighborhood schools and supporting teachers will lead to success. Reduce busing kids all over the county will allow our children to learn more. Stop closing the schools.

I plan to earn the community’s trust back with HONEST communication with the public about the issues we face. It won’t be easy. We have to find the best superintendent we can that will move forward with a strategic plan. My SMART plan (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Results & Timely Manner) is a proven strategy for success.

Mary McCray

During the past three years, our students, employees, and community have suffered undue stress and uncertainty in regards to the sometimes indecisive direction of our school board and district. I want to become the catalyst which mends the fences that have been broken and restore trust and integrity where it’s needed most.

I will capitalize on my many years of classroom experience and knowledge of educational policy to fight for what’s best for children and families in all sections of this county to ensure a high-quality, stabilized public school experience. I recognize the stress and upheaval in the lives of CMS families caused by the lengthening of the school day, closings of schools, grade configurations in some schools, the rush to Pay for Performance and the over-emphasis on standardized testing.

I sounded the alarm with the former superintendent’s backdoor attempt with HB546, which in its present form, would jeopardize the livelihood of educators here in the district. My voice was not only heard here but also in Raleigh against this bill which demoralizes the teaching profession and places too much dependency on testing in grades K-12.

The people need a champion on the school board who will never let their voices be silenced again. I am capable and willing to be that voice.

Tim Morgan

For the last two years I have had the opportunity to serve on the Board of Education. For that honor I would like to thank the citizens of District 6. During that time, our community has faced the most difficult economic times since the Great Depression. We have made budget and operational decisions that were unthinkable several short years ago. Yet through it all, one item has been at the heart of every major decision we have made: increasing student achievement by following our Strategic Plan.

My wife and I can remember where we have been. When she graduated from North Mecklenburg and I from Independence, our principals told us only 60 percent of us would graduate. We have made tremendous strides toward giving EVERY child a great education with our reform efforts and I am proud my children will graduate from CMS.

In order to keep up this positive momentum, as your next at-large CMS board member I will focus on:

  • Hiring a superintendent with a track record of supporting reform measures.
  • Continuing efforts to place an effective teacher in every classroom.
  • Identifying cost-savings through privatization and directing savings back to teachers and the classroom.


Wiley Coyote said...

I love the candidates who talk about how qualified they are but don't give specifics and speak in generalities about the same status quo situation public education has been in for decades.

our community’s well-being and economic prosperity depend upon raising our graduation rate and narrowing our achievement gap. I have the skills and the commitment to help bring this about.

Really? I did not know that. Is that something new?

Based on the past 4 years of data, you're looking at 15 years to "close the achievement gap", even if at that time.

How would you do that? Which "achievement gap" are you referring to? The Black gap? Hispanic gap? All gaps?

I will capitalize on my many years of classroom experience and knowledge of educational policy to fight for what’s best for children and families in all sections of this county to ensure a high-quality, stabilized public school experience.

Do we not have quality schools today? Be careful how you state that because according to CMS, we're doing great. Broad says so, which means, we've actually done BETTER with fewer schools, teachers and other personnel, as opposed to a few years ago.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

But I will be voting Saturday....

ThaQueenCity said...

Well said Wiley.......