James Barrett for NC Superintendent

ABOUT JAMES

I attended elementary, junior high, and high school in North Carolina public schools, and our children did the same, with our older child now in college in the UNC system. My mother was a preschool teacher until she went back to school for her master’s, and then taught reading in North Carolina public high schools for 20+ years. I’ve been on the school board in Chapel Hill-Carrboro for the past 8 years, including 2 as chair, listening to teachers and leading change in our district to ensure we have resources in the right places to improve instruction for all students.

Experience

Running a large department like the Department of Public Instruction requires management skill, integrity, and transparency. I’ve spent my entire career in corporate IT leadership–managing large teams across the globe, leading large projects and significant budgets with a variety of stakeholders, and driving change, with a focus on customer experience improvements. I don’t believe education (nor government) needs to run like a business, but I know how to lead people, work large systems, and prioritize investments to achieve better results for students, teachers, parents, and our state. As state superintendent, I’ll do what a great superintendent should: Lead the department to provide terrific resources for our teachers and then get out of the way—so that the professionals who have the most impact on students can build relationships and deliver great results every day.

Leadership

A great state superintendent leads a large department, and leads other state leaders to do the right thing for our students and teachers. That requires skills and experience in policy and the ability to advocate forcefully but effectively with policymakers and lawmakers—skills I’ve honed over the past 15 years on the school board and working for social justice.

Passion

I first ran for office after serving as a founding member of the education committee of a local social justice organization, determined to bring meaningful change to public schools for a better education for ALL our students. Our schools across the state continue to struggle under the weight of low resources, low pay, and low expectations. I grew up in our schools under the leadership of our great educator governor, Jim Hunt—and I want to return the respect I saw then to our educators and our commitment to bettering the lives of all our students.
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