James Barrett for NC Superintendent

Charlotte’s Black Political Caucus questionnaire

250 character max each question. 

  1. What kinds of policies, if any, will you pursue to promote social and racial equity? (Be as specific as possible). *

Reducing discipline disparities through restorative practices, recruiting and retaining more teachers of color, supporting more culturally relevant instruction, eliminating gaps in access to rigorous courses, increased support services for students.

  •  How do you plan to involve residents in the decision-making process in your city?

First, my virtual door is always open; my cell # is 919-590-5754. But I also will ensure that DPI is travelling the state holding town halls everywhere to hear concerns and input from all affected by our state’s public schools. .

  • What do you believe are the most important issues facing the city in the coming years and what will be your priorities in taking action on those issues?

Eliminating the testing culture that labels higher-need schools as failing instead of a place of opportunity where great work is occurring. Promoting respect for teaching. Ensuring student safety through mental health support and physical updates.

  • Understanding the current lack of economic mobility for African Americans, what are three (3) short term actions that can be taken to address this crisis?

Increase school counselors to support more higher education achievement by African Americans, eliminate barriers to rigorous coursework, promote teaching profession as career choice, including through Teaching Fellows. 

  • What efforts should be made to address the affordable housing issue that already exists and what do you believe you will offer to the city to address this issue?

I support efforts to focus on workforce affordable housing, especially for teachers. SECU provides no-cost loan program to allow districts to achieve this in a cost-neutral way.

  • What is your opinion on the City of Charlotte financial footing? What steps would you take to sustain it or improve it?

Our state’s financial footing is poor because we have prioritized tax cuts for the wealthy over investment in education, and we have not taken advantage of federal funds for healthcare through Medicaid expansion. I will advocate for reversing both.

  • What makes you uniquely qualified for the position you seek?

I have broad school policy and advocacy expertise as 8-year elected school board member combined with professional leadership and change management experience—both needed to lead DPI to accomplish what’s needed for all students to achieve. 

  • What are your top three (3) goals if elected or re-elected?

Eliminate testing regime that is labeling some schools as failing regardless of good work being accomplished. Restore respect for teaching through pay and policy. Improve safety of students through mental health and physical security investments.

  • As an elected official or as a citizen, describe two (2) accomplishments that you have achieved to advance the educational, social, or economic condition in the Black community?

As school board member, hiring an equity director for our school district to bring focused, fresh thinking to our achievement gaps. Increased pay for all school district employees to a living wage, and bus drivers to $16/hour.

  1. What do you see as three (3) challenges facing North Carolina going into 2020?

The rural/urban divide sets up haves and have-nots in education, which we must ensure is handled through better funding all needs; Teacher recruitment/retention, especially teachers of color; Political divide preventing progress on public education.

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