Here's a recap of the interviews today that Linda Gunter and Anna Johnson went through for the Wake County school board District 9 vacancy.
Gunter said she wanted to give back to the community, mentioning several times about having been a state Senator in the early 1990s and a Cary High School social studies teacher for 30 years. Gunter talked about how she brought in her students to the General Assembly to speak on issues.
If appointed, Gunter said she'd resign from her position as a registered lobbyist for the N.C. Association of Educators.
Gunter said the achievement gap may sometimes be the result of cultural issues. She talked about having been involved in legislation to create a teacher cadet program that brought in prospective minority and male teachers.
Gunter also talked about access, noting how she drove Southeast Raleigh students to the General Assembly because they couldn't provide their own transportation. She also cited how she raised money for Southeast Raleigh students to go on field trips.
She suggested offering Junior ROTC at every high school as a way to reach out to students, pointing to the program's success at Cary High.
Gunter said they need to invest more money in professional development for teachers. She said they also need to equally divide resources across the county so that parents feel that their neighborhood school is a as good as any in the county.
On assignment, Gunter said, "I strongly believe in diversity. That’s important because we live in a very diverse society.”
Gunter said students who attend diverse schools will better understand their peers.
Gunter cited when students were bused in from Southeast Raleigh to Cary High that it was "tough for them at first." But she said they welcomed those students and it was a positive thing for the school to have those kids.
But at same time Gunter said she wants to limit busing so students aren’t spending too much time on the bus.
Gunter said they need to set a goal like the old one of trying to keep schools from having more than 40 percent of students receiving subsidized lunches.
As a teacher, Gunter asked what can a teacher do if they have a class of 90 percent low-performing students. But she said that "if have a few good kids in there, that can make a difference."
Gunter said the next superintendent should be good in public relationships and communications. She pointed to how Tony Tata had visited schools, saying she didn't remember any other superintendent reaching out as much.
But Gunter also said the next superintendent should be an educator and probably should have been a superintendent in a large school system.
Gunter said she supports magnet schools, the leadership academies and the STEM schools. She cited the example of a niece who learned Japanese at Enloe High School and now is teaching it to others.
"You can't offer Japanese at every school but if you have a magnet you can offer it," she said
Anna Johnson noted that she has a child who has started kindergarten in Wake.
Johnson said she loves Wake County schools and has a passion for education. She said she will offer a fresh new perspective to the board and also a calm new perspective.
Johnson said they need to empower teachers to deal with the achievement gap.
In terms of the budget, she said her priority would be ensuring that all of the funds are being allocated evenly provide for all the students,
Johnson said that they need to empower teachers to be creative because too often they're teaching to the test.
Johnson didn't touch on diversity when discussing assignment. She said they need to have a sustainable plan that would allow all students to have great options that will educate them well and empower parents to make choices for their children
Johnson said she graduated from magnet schools and is a fan of them. She also likes the leadership academies.
As you can probably tell, Gunter used the full 30 minutes for his interview. Johnson went through her interview faster.