Carlene A. Lucas | Candidate Questionnaires | Indy Week
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Carlene A. Lucas 

Candidate for Wake County Board of Education District 2

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Name as it appears on the ballot: Carlene A. Lucas
Full legal name, if different: Carlene Ann Lucas
Date of birth: July 28, 1969
Home address: 10225 Sauls Road, Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
Mailing address, if different from home:
Campaign Web site: www.carlenelucas.com
Occupation & employer:
Home phone: (919) 800-8787
Work phone:
E-mail: carlene@carlenelucas.com



1) What are the specific needs of your school district that you will fight for if election to the board?

The specific needs of District 2 that I will fight for if elected are improved socioeconomic diversity, increased parental involvement, focus on individual academic success instead of overall school performance, and establishing partnerships between schools and businesses, faith based organizations, and civic groups.

2) What is there in your record as a public official or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be effective on the council? This might include career or community service; but please be specific about its relevance to this office.

Through my experience with community service I have been able to communicate effectively to community volunteers. I worked with my church to implement a Homeless Ministry, which today, in its third year, is a great success. This experience is relevant to the board because we should be able to speak effectively with the public, including parents, teachers, and students. I also have experience in accounting and auditing which will enable me to take an accounting perspective to the budget to help eliminate wasteful spending and to be fiscally responsible. As a tutor at schools, I know how giving individual attention to students can help their performance so I will make giving students more one on one a priority by smaller class sizes, quality instruction, and tutoring.

3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?

Politically, I define myself as a moderate and I tend to be in line with most Americans. I believe that it is our moral responsibility to take care of each other. Through the establishment of HOPE Ministries at Garner United Methodist Church myself and others have reached out to the homeless community in our area. My platform is for equality in education, which I believe we must strive for diversity. If we do not maintain and improve diversity our schools will become segregated which will ultimately lead to unequal opportunities. I also believe that we must have choice but convenience should not be put before a quality education.

4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.

A principled stand that I will take if elected will be to improve the socioeconomic diversity within our schools. If we do not improve the balance we will have educational disparities between our schools, causing us to fail our children. We must have an equal education for all our students.

5. What's your position on the issue of "neighborhood" schools and abandoning, or changing, current assignment policies that seek to balance student populations in every school ("diversity")?

I am against "neighborhood" schools because they will result in unequal opportunities for our children. School choice alone does not create quality education. In addition, whether or not you want your child to attend a neighborhood school could depend on what neighborhood you live in. I will work for a better socioeconomic diversity policy because it is not happening in all of our schools. In District 2, we have 8 schools that are above the 40% threshold. The disparities that neighborhood schools will create are a lack of resources, qualified teachers in low-income areas, and lower expectations. All children should be in a positive school environment and held to high expectations because if we believe in them they will in turn believe in themselves and succeed with adequate resources.

6. To limit reassignments and busing distances, some local officials have advocated either splitting the Wake school district or else creating sub-districts with fixed boundaries within it. What's your reaction to these ideas?

I disagree with both ideas because we will again have unequal opportunities for our students. We should not be looking at the issue as a matter of convenience; it should be looked at as a matter of our children receiving the best possible education. With the methods described in the question, a parent living on the border between District 1 and District 2, may want to send their child to a District 2 school because it offers a program that their child is interested in but because of the boundary, they would be unable to send their child to the school because they live in District 1. We cannot have unequal access to our resources.

7. Wake County's graduation rate hovers around 80 percent, meaning that of the students entering high school, about one in five doesn't finish within five years. That's better than the state average, but it isn't great. Should the district be doing more for at-risk students in the earlier grades and if so, what?

Yes, we should be doing more for at-risk students in the earlier grades such as establishing a database that tracks attendance, tardiness, behavioral problems, and grades in core subjects beginning as early as the sixth grade. These areas are all indicators of a child who may drop out. Once a student is identified they need to be able to establish a relationship with someone they can trust at the school whether it is a counselor or administrator. We also need smaller class sizes so that teachers can give students individualized attention, we need to involve the parents, and the classroom instruction needs to be relevant to careers.

8. Are new programs needed to help dropouts return and finish high school?

Yes, new programs are needed that focus on individualized attention. We also need to evaluate our dropout prevention grants and ensure that they are being used effectively.

9. Does Wake County have enough schools and enough classrooms? If not, would you advocate speeding up the pace of new buildings and additions, even if tax hikes were required?

Wake County does not have enough schools or classrooms as evidenced by the need for modular units. I believe we can utilize public-private partnerships and share our facilities with the community, thus lowering the cost of the buildings. We must look at every other alternative before we consider asking for taxes to be raised.

10. Year-round schools are one way the county's kept school taxes low. Should more schools be made (or built to be) year-round? Should students be assigned to attend them?

I do not believe that students should be forced to attend year-round schools, they should be given a choice in their calendar option. If we see that year-round schools are being chosen more than there are seats available, then we should have more year-round schools.

11. Magnet schools are a key element of current diversity policies, but they're expensive—and outlying areas of the county wonder why they can't have them too. What changes, if any, do you support in the way magnets are used?

All schools should have a challenging curriculum with different programs offered at each school. We should give educators more control to choose the programs they believe will be effective at their schools such as foreign language offerings, arts, science and math. These intensive programs should not just be available at magnet schools.

12. Does every new high school need a football stadium? A theater? Are shared facilities an approach you'd support to save taxpayers money?

I believe these facilities create a sense of community at our schools but as land becomes more expensive, the smart option is to look at shared facilities, especially with the community where the school is built. For every new high school, we should look at the costs versus the benefits of each facility.

13. The Wake Education Partnership's recent report, "Suspending Disbelief," describes a 21st century school system—quite unlike anything that exists in the U.S. today—that would equip students to succeed in a global economy. The report calls for a longer school year and far-reaching improvements in curriculum and assessment, none of which would be free. What, if anything, would you take from this report if elected?

I agree with the Partnership's report. If elected I would take back to the board that our children do need to become more globally competitive. They need to learn at least one other language and it is important that they are aware of other cultures and that our schools remain diversified so our children can interact and learn from children from other cultures. We do need alternative learning programs and longer days with a more rigorous curriculum. This will make our children more competitive in the 21st Century.

14. What question(s) haven't we asked—and what's your answers?

Are there any alternatives to neighborhood schools and the current reassignment plan? I believe that Controlled Choice is a model that should be looked at to improve our socioeconomic diversity within our schools.

What is Controlled Choice and how would it work?

  • Controlled Choice is a model in which parents would choose a number of schools they want their child to attend.

  • Students are assigned to schools according to preference, socioeconomic level, and random lottery.

  • When children register for Kindergarten, their parent(s) will have the opportunity to choose up to five schools they would prefer their child to attend.  In each school there are an allotted number of open seats (those who do not receive F&R lunch and those who do receive F&R lunch).  This will ensure diversity among our students.  If seats are full, parents will be given another choice and put on a waiting list for the next available seat.  There is a random lottery in the case there are more requests than seats available at a school.

  • In the case of a school having an abundant number of available seats, the school system would review enrollment figures, get feedback from the teachers and administration of that particular school as to why they think enrollment is low, survey parents in surrounding areas and ask why they didn't choose that school.  Then develop a plan to improve the school to make it more "attractive " to parents by changing the calendar option, offering a more challenging curriculum, offering more programs, offering more resources students and parents.  For example, if a year round school has a large number of available seats one option would be to change the calendar option.

  • Giving parents a choice builds confidence in public education, helps to develop community relations and improves the quality of education that our children are provided.

  • Controlled Choice will eliminate unnecessary bussing costs therefore allowing more money to be allocated towards smaller class sizes, curriculum, and salaries for qualified teachers, etc.

  • Controlled Choice will provide parents with a stable school assignment.  Once your child is in a school they as well as their siblings will stay at that school, unless noted by you, the parent.

  • Students would not be reassigned once they are given their school of choice.  New residents, whether new to Wake County or new to a neighborhood, will still be given a choice.  New residents to Wake County will be given a list of schools with available seats from which they can choose a school.  If their school of choice is not on that list they may be placed on a waiting list.  In the case a family moves, the parents still have the choice to keep their child in the same school but depending on the distance from the school, the parent may have to provide transportation for their child. 

  • For students receiving F&R, their parents would receive transportation reimbursements if they choose a school that is outside their transportation zone.

Are you for preschool programs? Yes, I believe that we must create more preschool programs to help prepare preschool aged children for kindergarten. It costs $1200 more per year to retain a child than it does to have a child enrolled in More at Four, a preschool program that prepares children for kindergarten through a curriculum.

What is your stance on integrating community service in the curriculum? I believe that community service should be integrated in the classroom as early as kindergarten. This will help develops critical thinking and problem solving skills as well as builds relationships among students, schools, and the community.

  • Candidate for Wake County Board of Education District 2

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