North Carolina used to be an education powerhouse. We were ranked number ten in the country for teacher pay and were recognized nationally for quality.
When Mark Johnson won in 2016, he said he didn’t think he would win. After all, he was an attorney, not a licensed teacher, but eager to enter the political arena, he touted plans to lessen testing and support teachers. It sounded really good. I mean, I voted for him.
I have four children in three rural eastern NC schools, schools that are 70% free and reduced lunch. Our amazing teachers grow their students every year, but never win awards for being the best. After all, poverty is the biggest predictor of school grades and our growth? Ignored.
Our children lack access to high quality child care, prek and many don’t own a single book. They have never seen the ocean, which is just an hour away, and they come to school hungry.
We need a Superintendent to stand by our schools and not only meet the needs of kids, but let schools decide how they best should be met.
We don’t need IPads or less questions on tests. We don’t need school grades that ignore progress. We need a real educator, someone who spent 12 years teaching second and third graders in NC, someone who truly gets it.
Dr. Jen Mangrum is that person.
She was hired by NC State in 2004 to create the Elementary Education Program and Department. Within 18 months, students were enrolled and she was a professor. For the last ten years, she’s been teaching at UNC-G, preparing students to be teachers.
Yesterday, she arrived at my messy house with four noisy children and took it all in stride. That’s what being a superintendent requires, I think. Showing up, giving a damn, talking a bit and listening a lot.
My son Amos is five and has special needs. He’s not fond of strangers, but was smitten with her. He smiled and showed how he can read, because he has amazing teachers, teachers who are confined by testing and state protocol, and would be even better if only the state would just let them teach.
Jen Mangrum is that person and I’m supporting her run for NC Superintendent.