Radical Transparency

Running public schools is the public’s business.  The owner of every North Carolina school building is not the school board, not the superintendent, not the county commissioners, not even the General Assembly.  The people of North Carolina own the buildings, employ the teachers, and select the decision-makers on all things, electing officials to conduct the people’s business.  I have been one of those public officials for the past eight years, and I ask for your support to serve another four as your state superintendent.

I have always believed that being a representative of the people means a couple of key things:

1) It means my door (virtual and otherwise) is always open.  My cell phone # is 919-590-5754.  I welcome feedback from anyone who has something to say about our schools.

2) It means I am committed to being transparent in the actions I take as your public servant.  Specifically, I believe that rather than waiting for public records request (which take time and effort away from meaningful staff work), an easy solution is just to post all my emails on a listserv for anyone to read, anytime.  Local governments are doing this across North Carolina already (except, of course, for certain protected communications about specific employees).  There are no-cost options available to make this happen right away.  From day 1 of my service as your state superintendent, I will make sure this happens.

I can’t promise that I’ll always have answers that everyone will like.  But I can promise that I have nothing to hide and will engage with anyone in the community.  Because “stronger together” is not just a slogan—it it is the way I lead and the way I conduct public business.  I have experience doing this already, and will continue to be a radical in transparency on your behalf at the Department of Public Instruction.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Dot Sulock

    You have a delightful attitude. Are you open to the truth that the NC high school math curriculum is not appropriate for at least half of NC high school math students and is seriously damaging them, and also the value of education in general for them, and thus damaging the democracy?

  2. James

    I’m willing to have that conversation. Would need more information before making that declaration. There’s always room for improvement, and while we should support rigorous curriculum for all, it is certainly possible we’ve gone too far (or we may find there needs to be more supports earlier because the reality of what society needs today has changed).

  3. Dot Sulock

    The “rigorous” curriculum for all is a pretend thing for half. It was designed for elites and it is not bad for them. I taught math 40 years at UNCA and my kids were benefitted by this math-for-elites. Unfortunately well-meaning people decided that if this math was good for elites, it would be good for all. It is not good for all. It is too abstract, too useless, and too hard for the majority who are not going into STEM occupations (less than 10% of the occupations). This abstract math replaces useful math in the curriculum and the majority do not understand this useless-for-them math, so they dislike math and education in general. Dangerous for a democracy! In addition to not learning or liking math, it makes them feel stupid which is hard on folks. Education that makes you feel stupid turns people to alcohol, drugs, sex, and entertainment for escape. How does this situation persist? It persists because these students who have learned nothing are passed through the system to cover-up the sham. They are given lots of part credit for writing anything for questions they can’t do, allowed to take the same tests repeatedly, and given extra credit to get them by. The EOG exams are made unimportant to pass. By the way, these ridiculous exams are part of the problem. Look at the Math I-III end of grade exams and ask yourself if this math makes sense for all.

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