NAME: Omega Curtis Parker
OFFICE FOR WHICH YOU ARE RUNNING: Durham Public Schools Board of Education – District 1A
HOME PHONE: (919) 544-3455
OCCUPATION & EMPLOYER: Retired Durham Public Schools Media Coordinator
WORK PHONE: N/A
HOME ADDRESS: 111 Oakmont Avenue, Durham, NC 27713
PARTY AFFILIATION: Democratic Party
CAMPAIGN WEB SITE ADDRESS:
E-MAIL ADDRESS: email@example.com
1) If elected, what are your top priorities?
Continue recruiting and retaining highly qualified teachers
Continue reducing drop-out and suspension rates
Continue closing the achievement gap
Continue improving the graduation rate
2) What is there in your public record or other experience that demonstrates your ability to be an effective leader? Please be specific about your public and community service background.
My roles on the school board and in several organizations have afforded me the opportunity to demonstrate my ability to be an effective leader. As a member of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education, I have chaired the Support Services Committee since the beginning of my tenure. In several social, civic, community service and fraternal organizations, I have served in the following capacities: national president of Squaws, Inc., president of the Durham Chapter of Charms, president of the Durham Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, National Parliamentarian and Southern Regional Director of Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, Inc., President of Lambda Chapter of Tau Gamma Delta Sorority, and parliamentarian of the Progressive Sertoma Club.
In addition to these, I have been actively involved in my professional organizations, on the local, regional and national levels. As a member of St. Mark A.M.E. Zion Church, I serve on the Board of Stewards.
3) How do you define yourself politically and how does your political philosophy show itself in your past achievements and present campaign platform?
My philosophy is that the school system should serve all of its students with equity. Regardless of political or economic background, each student should have equal access to resources and instruction. For example, I have supported policies that allow and welcome qualified volunteers and mentors to give assistance to the students.
4) Identify a principled stand you might be willing to take if elected that you suspect might cost you some popularity points with voters.
The school system needs financial assistance from County Commissioners to keep the pendulum swinging in the right direction. As a school district, we are moving in the right trajectory but if not properly funded we lose momentum as a district. In the public's eye, asking the Board of County Commissioners for additional funding may not be favorable.
5) The Independent's mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?
Achieving a just community requires representation from all segments of the community, but more importantly, it must have people who have shown a deep commitment to the community. Review of my past involvement in this community would show my commitment to ensure that Durham is a just community. I feel that it is my responsibility to ensure that all students are educated and as a member of the board, I should be a voice for those who are unable to speak for themselves.
6) What is your stance on sex education in Durham Public Schools? Should it be taught, and at what grade level?
In keeping with the North Carolina Standard Course of Study, sex education is a part of the curriculum. Both abstinence and safe sex should be taught. I think the mid-middle school is perhaps the appropriate grade level. This is a subject that many parents are reluctant to address. The schools should take on this role just as they do with other subjects that parents are not able/willing to teach.
7) Teacher quality continues to be an issue in many school districts, including Durham Public Schools. How would you work to reduce teacher turnover, increase job satisfaction and attract more qualified teachers to Durham? What additional professional development or support should teachers receive that they are not already getting, and how would the district pay for this?
We should hold the schools accountable for analyzing working conditions. We should solicit and work with business partners in the community to provide recruiting incentives for teachers. The school system should provide additional staff development in areas to make teachers successful. I have seen a need for training in cultural diversity. There should be more online staff development. Staff development could be provided by current personnel at no additional expense.
8) Test scores continue to show an achievement gap between students in an ethnic or racial minority in Durham and their white counterparts. How can Durham's school board shape new policy or initiatives to improve the performance of minority students?
The school system should attempt to find grant money that supports afterschool intervention programs including tutoring and mentoring. Summer programs would improve the performance of minority students.
9) Should the state provide vouchers to parents who choose private (K-12) schools for their children? If so, for what amount?
The state of North Carolina requires that Exceptional Children's services be provided for students in private schools. An example of this is services provided in speech. I am opposed to taking funds from the public schools; however, I do believe that the students should be provided with whatever services are needed to make the student successful.
10) Durham's school system is facing perhaps one of the most challenging budget years in recent history. What direction will you give to school administration to balance the budget? In what areas would you recommend cutbacks and which services should remain untouched?
The system should avoid reducing school-based personnel at any cost in order to maintain small class sizes. The cutbacks could be made by reducing district assessments; reducing software portfolio and reviewing Central Office personnel.