A forum was held in a joint effort between the Caldwell Patriots and Carolina Liberty PAC to learn more about the candidates running for the Caldwell County Board of Education. Carolina Liberty PAC thanks the candidates Rob Bratcher, Charles Woodie, Bob Henson, and Annette Caldwell-Swanson for attending and engaging in straight-forward discussion about the issues that the school board will be facing.
Eddie Jolly of the Caldwell Patriots acted as moderator to the forum. Candidates were asked various questions that were submitted from parents, teachers, students, and voters of Caldwell County, including:
1) According to the Hickory Daily Record, Caldwell county schools pay its employees on average, a few thousand dollars less than the school systems in surrounding areas. The exception is the top position of superintendent which earns $159,960 annually, that’s ten thousand dollars more than the highest paid superintendent in Catawba county. Should Caldwell county consider restructuring the school pay scale to be more in line with the surrounding areas? (approx. 6:00 in on video)
2) Caldwell county schools currently practice policies of locker searches and random parking lot K9 sweeps. Civil liberty advocates are concerned that such practices can lead to a compliant populous. What is your stance on where the line is drawn between rule enforcement and civil liberties for children in the Caldwell county school system? (approx. 13:00 in)
3) There are times when the local legislatures, such as the school board, may go into sessions that are closed to the public. Proponents for transparency in government believe that “closed sessions” can undermine representation of the parents and voters. Are there times when “closed sessions” are necessary and if so, what should be the criteria for calling a “closed session”? (approx. 17:30 in)
4) Earlier this year, the topic of social matters within the school curriculum was raised pertaining to the North Carolina constitutional amendment on marriage.
Proponents of the amendment said that the amendment was necessary in order to keep the topic of same-sex marriage out of NC school curriculum. What is your stance on social matters taught within the curriculum? Are there some social issues that shouldn’t be taught and if so, which ones? (approx. 22:00 in)
5) Some of the council of state candidates are advocating a new plan for North Carolina high schools, which entails splitting the high schools into two different curriculum paths. High school freshmen will then choose between a higher education curriculum, or a vocational education curriculum for the rest of their high school career.
Proponents of the plan have stated that it will foster a well trained work-force to fill industry-related jobs for North Carolina. Opponents of the plan have compared it to soviet practices, stated that it will create clear division of classes of students, and that high school freshmen should not be forced to make binding decisions that will impact their path in life. If North Carolina schools begin to adopt the split-curriculum plan, should Caldwell County schools accept the changes to the school curriculum? (approx. 26:00 in)
Thank-you to Homegrown TV for the following video of the forum:
Around 33:00 into the video, the forum is turned over to the audience for questions. Highlights:
A parent asked the candidates about a practice implemented during the former school board term, which entailed sending political information home with children, for the purpose of pushing the political agenda of a 1 cent sales tax increase on North Carolina residents. The candidates explained where the decision to send the information home to parents stemmed from, and their own stance on mixing political agendas with school resources. The parent expressed disappointment that there were no incumbent school board members present to address the question.
A question was asked about the candidates’ stances on teachers unions and collective bargaining. A question was asked pertaining to the reason for a decision to eliminate contests for valedictorian/salutatorian. An audience member asked a question pertaining to the idea of revolutionizing curriculum on a local level, tailored specifically to our county rather than stemming from DC/Raleigh curriculum. Discussion broke out over the level of sovereignty that a local school board has, and strings attached to receiving funds from state/federal levels. A student brought up a point about the teaching styles having a bigger impact on the students’ education than does the curriculum itself. The forum closed out with candidates giving a short summary of what they will bring to the school board of Caldwell County.