The eight applicants for the Wake County school board vacancy are giving their views on diversity, armed guards in schools, the choice plan, performance pay for teachers, the school construction bond issue and charter schools.
The answers are part of an article in this week's issue of the liberal Independent Weekly, which focused on their views on diversity and armed guards. The diversity responses run the gamut from support to opposition to its use in student assignment.
On one end are these people whose views on diversity seem to be the closest in line to the board majority.
"In the ideal world, socioeconomic balancing is the way to go. ... You want to try to use your assignment plan to keep schools away from high poverty levels, but if you do have schools at that level, ethically, you have to provide the extra resources," said Tom Benton, a former Wake principal and arguably one of the favorites to get the position.
"I don't think we want to create high-poverty schools," said Don Mial. "I just don't think that in the long term we can continue to afford to put a lot of money into any one school."
"I tend to side with the traditional Wake County school model: socioeconomic diversity throughout all schools," said Wade Minter. "Growth in the 2000s and reluctance to spend tax money got us into a bad situation with too much reassignment and not enough stability. On the spectrum, though, I am more supportive of socioeconomic balance than neighborhood schools."
Here are those who say their view of diversity is in "the middle."
"I'm probably more in the middle," said Ben Clapsaddle. "If we have a higher-poverty school, we have to look at what resources we can put there. There may be different solutions. Maybe we bring a charter school into the area to help out. If we are just busing kids out of a high-poverty zone, where is the fairness in that?"
"Generally speaking, I think it's better to move money before you move students," said David Menaker. "I kind of run down the middle. I see some good things from both sides of the argument. What I haven't seen is a good final decision. I'm pretty tired of the petty politics."
The one clear critic is Wendy Ford, which would suggest that the board won't pick her for the position.
"I would first look at putting additional resources into a school," Ford said. "But I would be open to other options. When I hear parents say their children are being bused 45 or 50 minutes each way, that's unacceptable."
According to the article, Ford also says she would consider teacher bonuses as a way to improve underperforming schools, as she did in her former school district.
Shinica Thomas didn't answer the diversity question, but the Indy article notes that "she did make a relevant comment about her children's assignment: "I have one child at Heritage High and another across the county at Ligon Middle. It's really difficult for me as a parent to get across the county to participate in both schools. Our node has been reassigned several times."
Hilda McCullers ducked the diversity question.
"There isn't a short answer," McCullers said. "It's a complicated issue and something I need to study more before I have a definitive answer."
Wake has now uploaded all the applications on the district's website. Click here to view them.