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Candidate for Durham Board of Education

Terrence R. Scarborough 

Candidate for Durham Board of Education

Name as it Appears on the Ballot: Terrence R. Scarborough

Date of Birth: N/A

Campaign Web Site: www.scarborough4schoolboard.com

Occupation & Employer: Assistant Director for Licensure; The University of North Carolina – General Administration

Home phone: (919) 489-0707

Email: tr_scarborough@yahoo.com


1. If elected, what are your top priorities?

My top priorities, if elected are: 1.) to increase per student spending; 2.) provide alternatives to Out-of-School Suspensions; and 3.) grow parent and community involvement.

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 public record and community service demonstrates my ability to lead effectively, with integrity and intentionality. I served as the chair of the School Improvement Team (SIT) at City of Medicine Academy. During my two-year tenure, we were the only high school to achieve School of Excellence; I authored the by-laws for the SIT; created a Distributive Leadership & Decision-Making Policy Model; established the Teachers’ Corner which served as a forum for faculty to express themselves; lead the campaign to design and acquire a new logo which included identifying a vendor willing to work on an efficient budget and collaboration with administrators, teachers, and students; founded the CMA Alumni Affairs Committee; created and approved a nomination and election process for SIT parent elections; founded and organized the Student Recognition Awards Assembly; and helped to implement an annual Academic Enrichment Travel Program (the inaugural trip was to Costa Rica).

Additionally, I have served as a basketball coach at Riverside High School in Durham, NC where I taught life lessons through the game of basketball. Self-discipline, a strong work ethic, and teamwork were fundamental principles that anchored us while self-confidence, perseverance, and accountability were tenets that guided our direction. My philosophy was to help transform the girls that started on the team into productive and confident women when they graduated from the team.

I also created a Saturday Academy for middle school students that received a 2 or below on their End-of-Grade/Course tests. The sessions consisted of breakfast, one hour of tutoring in math, one hour of tutoring in reading, a speaker, and a field trip (the speaker and field trip alternated Saturdays). This was a collaborative effort between a local nonprofit organization and DPS under the administration of Dr. Carl Harris.

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

I am a registered Democrat. However, I do not believe that the School Board of Education election should be decided based on political affiliation. I would submit that voters should elect the candidate that would best serve the system objectively, and represent all students fairly and equitably.

My past achievements and current campaign platform revolve around fair and equitable treatment of all people and equal access to opportunities. Oftentimes policies may be fair but access to the available resources is guarded. For example, a charter school may have admissions standards that are fair and equitable. However, charter schools are not required to provide transportation to its student body. Consequently, a student may not have access to the resources available at the charter school despite going through an equitable and fair admissions process. I am of the opinion that marginalized groups should have a place at the proverbial table if we are to grow and progress as one system and a unified community.

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

It is said that a person’s actions are their thoughts prioritized. My daily existence is to infuse the principles of integrity, intentionality, and inclusion into all that I do. I suspect that my perspective on charter schools could cost me some popularity points seeing that I do not believe in a proliferation of charter schools in one system. But again, if a policy is passed that demonstrates an intentional and equitable attempt to be inclusive of all students, and the “fine print” has integrity, I will support that policy as it aligns itself with my principles.

5. The INDY’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. How would your election to office help further that goal?

As stated above, one of my primary goals is to increase the level of involvement from our parents and community stakeholders. I believe that it truly does take a village to raise a child, especially in today’s world. In order to prepare our children for the global society that they will embark upon after high school graduation, it is imperative that we expose them to diverse groups of people and opportunities outside of their comfort zone. To accomplish this, we as a community must re-invest our time, talents, and treasures into our youth and our school system. Our return on investment will hopefully be a just community where all students have options that will enable them to be well prepared and productive citizens of our great city.

6. Minority children and children with disabilities are suspended from DPS at higher rates than their white counterparts. To what do you attribute this disparity? How should this disparity be resolved?

I believe that overall, the suspension policy is fine. The recent policy amendment that gives individual administrators more flexibility in determining when to suspend a student is a progressive step forward.

The issue is not the suspension policy, but the inconsistent interpretation, application, and enforcement of the Code of Student Conduct policy. It is this policy that is grossly abused.

As a Board member, I would ensure that students, parents, faculty and administrators understand the difference between the two policies. I would set up workshops specifically for faculty and administrators to explain how to interpret the policy and how to identify which consequence or behavioral intervention is to be applied to situations. I would also suggest distribution of the policy to students and parents at the beginning of each academic year.

Additionally, I would implement a comprehensive In-School Suspension (ISS) Vocational program wherein students remain under school supervision when they have violated a rule. The ISS Vocational program would require that students in ISS complete a certain number of community service hours (i.e. help build houses with Habitat for Humanity; maintain local community gardens; learn specific vocational trades such as masonry, etc.). The objective is to teach students to be accountable for their actions while simultaneously teaching them a new skill set, giving back to their community, and how to be responsible in fulfilling their respective assignments.

7. The Durham Board of Education recently joined a lawsuit with dozens of other public school districts challenge the law that ends teacher tenure. Tell the voters about your views on this law and the board’s legal challenge to it.

There is a popular urban legend that exists which purports that K-12 educators aspire to obtain tenure because once they receive tenure they cannot be fired: the common definition for university professors. The reality is that K-12 educators that obtain tenure, or more correctly career-status, can be fired. The career-status law, that was recently repealed, entitles teachers to a hearing if their superiors try to fire them.

I disagree with the repeal of the career-status law. Even though the state of North Carolina is an At-Will state, I believe everyone should receive a due process hearing when termination of employment is pending. There are two sides to every story and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Often times, only one side of the story is told…the employer’s side. Given the numerous complexities involved in educating students, teachers deserve the right to present their side of the story as there may be legitimate reasons why they performed a certain way.

Also, it is my opinion that the Durham Board of Education took the appropriate steps in supporting this lawsuit. The question becomes “If we as a school system do not support our teachers, who will?”

8. The General Assembly passed sweeping legislation on education budgets, teacher pay, vouchers and charter schools in the last session. Assess the impact of that legislation, either as a whole or individual laws. Which laws do you agree/disagree with? Why?

The 2013-14 General Assembly was extremely busy. They have been successful in passing regressive laws that have some suggesting that the state of NC is the new face of the Antebellum South. The decision to remove the maximum cap on the number of charter schools allowed in the state was a striking blow to public education, specifically DPS as we are set to have roughly 9 new charter schools open within the next year or so. I do believe that there is a place for charter schools, but it should be a collaborative effort with DPS and the applying charter school.

These openings may potentially further divide, or dare I say re-segregate our city and school district which is antithetical to §115C-238.29F-(5). Additionally, the opportunity costs of parent/family resources will be stripped from DPS.

The General Assembly’s decision to discontinue the supplement pay for teachers with advanced degrees was another adverse policy decision. Not only does this discourage teachers from pursuing a graduate degree to enhance and further progress their current skill set, it unequivocally undermines any recruiting efforts DPS once had to obtain quality teachers.

Finally, the merit-pay teacher compensation system has created a massive backlash. I do believe that there are industries and professions where merit-pay and performance-pay models work, however I do not believe that the Educational profession is one of them. Aside from athletics, the concept and philosophy of team is widely used throughout educational settings. Our students should be able to learn in a collaborative environment where the strengths of many are fused together to achieve the best outcomes for the students. They should not operate in a setting that is combative and adversarial, which merit/performance-pay may potentially lend itself to.

9. Several candidates in this year’s school board election have strong ties to charter schools. For candidates with those ties: Why are you seeking election to a public school board? What are the pros and cons of vouchers? How would you respond to perceptions that charter school employees could have an agenda in pursuing election to the public school board? And if you were to share the board with members who are unaffiliated with charters, how would you address your policy differences?

N/A

For those candidates unaffiliated with charter schools: Should the state provide vouchers to parents who choose private (K-12) schools for their children? If so, for what amount? What are the pros and cons of vouchers? What is the impact of the voucher program on public schools? And if you were to share the board with members who are affiliated with charters, how would you address your policy differences?

I do not believe that the state should provide vouchers, or subsidies, to parents who choose to send their children to private, K-12 schools. Typically, private schools already have endowment funds that serve to provide tuition assistance for those students that are unable to afford it. Seeing that it is the choice of the parents to apply to a private school, I would expect the parents to have evaluated the possible outcomes related to their choice and have calculated the financial obligation accompanying that choice. Additionally, private schools set their own admissions criteria. Consequently, the potential is inherently present in the admissions process to limit admissions to certain demographics of students while receiving tax dollars, via vouchers, from some of the families of those same students that have been denied admission.

I do believe the voucher program has its place, just not in the K-12 public school system. The current NC Education and Training Voucher Program enables foster care youth to receive financial assistance toward a degree or certificate at the collegiate level. Without this assistance, some of these students would not have the opportunity to further their education.

The impact of the voucher program, in my opinion, will have an adverse impact on public education. The NC General Assembly appropriated $10 million to the voucher program, or Opportunity Scholarships program, for its first year and will increase to $40 million in its second year. That is a total of $50 million that was not invested into our public school system.

I have learned over the years that people will disagree with me. I believe that transparent, intentional, and honest dialogue is a pertinent element in the improvement process for any leader or organization. People must understand that we can agree to disagree as long as we collaborate to place a higher value on the common goal and not our personal egos and feelings. At the end of the day, our number one priority is identifying what is best for our students and community, not our individual beliefs.

A term that I like to use when explaining such a conversation is Controversy with Civility. If the intent is to grow in one’s craft and advance in their career, candid and authentic feedback from multiple sources is necessary. In like manner, if a system wants to provide the best possible service for its users, the same process holds true.

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?

Budget management requires discipline, an understanding of the situation, and forethought. My goal would be to help lead school administration towards a more efficient budget by evaluating current allocations and identifying areas that could be revised. One area that could potentially be revised is the school busing and transportation system. How we identify pick-up and drop-off stops may yield savings that have previously gone unnoticed.

11. The previous superintendent, Eric Becoats, resigned amid allegations of financial irregularities in his office. What oversight was lacking that led to Becoats’ financial questions? How should this oversight policy be rectified? What is the board seeking in a new superintendent? Are there aspects of the search process that could be improved?

The Board of Education is ultimately responsible for all oversight. Unfortunately, I am unable to provide an answer as to how oversight was, or was not, performed. I would submit that quarterly reviews of financial activity compliance should be completed in one of the committee meetings (i.e. the Administrative Services Committee). By regularly confirming that all is compliant, it would decrease the chance, or appearance of, fiscal impropriety.

Again, I am unable to speak to the Board’s intentions on what they are seeking in a new superintendent. I would imagine that they are looking for a strong and adaptive leader that has integrity, discipline, positive morals, and is ethical. I am sure there are aspects of the search process that can be tweaked, but overall, I feel the process will achieve its desired goal.

  • Candidate for Durham Board of Education

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