Name as it appears on the ballot: Honoria (Honor) Middough
Party affiliation: Unaffiliated
Occupation & employer: Teacher/Durham Public Schools
Years lived in the area: Since 2012 in the Triangle; 8 years in the CHCCS district.
1. In 300 words or less, please give us—and our readers—your elevator pitch: Why are you running? Why should voters entrust you with this position? What are your priorities, and what would you want to see the school board do differently or better over the course of your term?
I am running for CHCCS Board of Education because I am a veteran educator and advocate for other educators, students, and the families our community serves.
It is important to have an educator’s perspective when considering policies that shape the daily operations of our public schools.
Voters should entrust me with this position because I have held and demonstrated effective, ethical leadership as both a high school classroom teacher and department chair for the past 12 years, and in previous professional roles.
My primary aim is to preserve the integrity of- and influence improvement within the district by bringing more awareness of what it means to have equitable teaching and learning environments, setting standard best practices with regard to all student’s growth.
2. Given the direction of the school district, would you say things are on the right course? If not, for what specific changes will you advocate if elected?
With Dr. Hamlett’s leadership as CHCCS Superintendent, the current board has made noticeable improvements within the district, steering it toward the right course. The district’s Strategic Plan is an example of forward thinking. I would however advocate for the recruitment and retention of more certified educators of color as leaders in classrooms, modeling representation of the diverse, highly qualified professionals that exist not only in the very important roles of classified authority, but extending beyond into various disciplines of academia.
3. What are the three main issues that you believe the Chapel Hill Carrboro City Schools Board of Education needs to address in the upcoming year?
In the upcoming year, I believe the school district needs to diligently focus on turning its achievement gap into a space of creative opportunities. This means recognizing students from where they are academically, and with willingness to take meaningful time (not through exploiting more unpaid teacher time), but through funding direct instructional, in-person, small group concepts impacting student’s confidence in content and thereby affecting achievement gains. The district also needs to deliberately strive toward more equitable teaching and learning environments, not just via superfluous, superficial data markers, but through the provision of relevant professional development if teachers are not familiar with the content they are charged to teach.
As a third issue, I will restate the need for the CHCCS Board of Education to address recruitment, retention, and the creation of hospitable environments for more educators of color.
4. Describe something you think the school board should have prioritized differently in the current budget. Do you think the budget supports students from lower income families as well as from affluent families? Does the budget meet the district’s infrastructure and staffing needs?
The budget should have earmarked more generously, funds toward Pupil/Student Support Services.
Presuming items noted as such mean financial resources directed to things like an adequate amount of nurses in each school building and the provision of other psychosocial supports such as counselors, quality nutrition services and staff, etc. then I would have to say lower income families are not prioritized but should have been.
We have to consider all students’ well-being as a public institution that is CHCCS and just because this district includes a large number of affluent families, a part of our responsibility as a school district is to consider needs of the whole and not just a portion.
The district’s budget does seem to be meeting infrastructure and staffing needs considering the confines of a limited educator pool nationwide, and the inflexibility of the NCGA.
5) Does the General Assembly have a constitutional obligation to comply with the state Supreme Court order in the Leandro case to fully fund public schools and give every child in North Carolina a sound basic education? What other policies should lawmakers enact at the state level to strengthen public education?
It is unfortunate that the NCGA has a predominant arrogance making them feel exempt from the rules set forth by the higher court of the United States; there also seems to be apathy toward a decency that should be considered reasonable as part of their obligation toward their constituency.
State legislators should fully fund public schools as a matter of responsibility toward their community as elected officials.
It took years and a staggering death toll of North Carolinians but I’ll be humble enough to say kudos to the NC General Assembly for finally deciding to expand Medicaid. Nevertheless, their inability to fully fund public schools per Leandro coupled with their inability to be considerate of myself and my colleagues by setting forth legislation that gives us a salary recognizing our professionalism, academic expertise, and time sacrificed day in and out serving our communities- is evidenced by the state’s failure to adequately increase educator pay to a rate in line with the exacerbated cost of living- and this, in a word, is disrespectful.
At the state level NC also needs to restore advanced degree pay. As it stands, the state representatives who revoked it a little over a decade ago, consistently shoot down ideas of this being beneficial which has left districts with discretion to implement, but it also leaves local districts footing the cost. Restoring advanced degree pay would make current educators feel valued statewide and serve to strengthen our public schools, encouraging recruitment and retention of persons eager to work for our districts.
6) Despite boasting a 94.8 percent graduation rate last academic year, and ranking in the top four percent of all public school districts in the nation, an achievement/opportunity gap still exists between white students and students of color. What specific policies should CHCCS pursue to close this gap?
I support any policy that connects to Orange County’s efforts at reducing socioeconomic inequities as part of the way forward in addressing academic inequities.
Setting clearer policy requiring all employers meet the living wage of $16.60 (or the alternate compensation determined in 2023 if employers pay half their employees health insurance costs) in Chapel Hill-Carrboro, would mean families might be afforded more time to be present and engaged with the academic needs of their children.
Specific to policies already established, Policy Code 3101: addresses Options to Earn Course Credits for Graduation. I’d like to pursue the need for us to expose all our students to this policy as a point of common knowledge and actively encourage all students to enroll in and earn state tested Math I or the required English I high school credits, while in middle school. Additionally, students should be aware of and encouraged to engage with dual enrollment programs offered through our area community colleges as well directed toward AP and Honors courses.
It should not be rare and should not be acceptable to see one Black student in Honors/AP classes yet this remains a reality in the district.
Students cannot access resources and opportunities if they do not know they exist nor are aware of how to enroll in them.
This achievement gap can be a bridge of opportunity if we are transparent with our district data and pursue this and other policies with intentionality, bringing CHCCS preK-12 students into better alignment with their academic success.
7) Despite working for CHCCS, many teachers and staff can’t afford to live in Chapel Hill or Carrboro. What role should the school district have in ensuring that affordable housing is available for its workforce?
I advocate for educator housing and it has been modeled as an innovative construct in areas across the country, including a few counties here in North Carolina. Teachers and staff in NC experience a high deduction of wages to include an astronomical amount for health insurance each month (especially if one has dependent/s); educators in the CHCCS district receive one of the highest supplements in the state but this still only places them a few feet removed from the poverty line.
An affordable housing option for teachers and staff working for CHCCS, has potential to bring back a missing sense of community and connection between local schools, families and the extended communities this district serves.
8) Recently, groups of parents with students in North Carolina public schools have mounted efforts to ban certain books from school classrooms and libraries. How should school boards handle these efforts?
I am strongly against the loudest voices having a say as to whose narrative gets reflected in our school classrooms and libraries.
I have heard and engaged with those voices and find it interesting that they are incapable of explicitly citing quotes in these texts in order to demonstrate that the books in question deal with the content they claim is being taught and made accessible to their learners.
As a parent and a teacher, I advocate for parental rights with regard to exposing our North Carolina students to age and intellectually appropriate texts allowing teachers to have a level of discretion as the professionals that we are, to deliver the content with integrity.
I do not however advocate for micromanagement and a sort of blanket banning in North Carolina’s public schools.
What I find intolerable is uninformed chatter promoting censorship of predominantly historically marginalized voices because there is a scripted agenda that’s telling these parental groups what to say as a tactic of distraction and division.
9) Do police officers (School Resource Officers) have a role in schools? Please explain your answer.
Knowing this is delicate, I would honestly have to say that it depends. I am the daughter of a retired Philadelphia police officer (a good cop as she describes herself and whose actions proved this factual). Additionally, having SROs in the DPS school building I have taught in for the past 12 years and having good experiences with them, I can say that so long as the officers are vetted to be a good fit for the school’s demographics/atmosphere and the School Resource Officers aim to build rapport with the students (and staff), not blindsighted from a lens of cultural biases, then with the state of the world, and the nation, unfortunately, I believe having SROs comes with the territory of public education as it stands.
With regard to CHCCS, my daughter had a great officer at Smith Middle School; however, at the high school level, I had concerns with police officer presence and actions especially relating to engagement with our Black, Brown, and less affluent student populaces regardless of ethnicity.
10) CHCCS was able to hire drivers for all bus routes this academic year, but, as with other school districts in the state, it has had a hard time filling transportation vacancies in the past. What steps should the district take to ensure that there are enough bus drivers for all routes in order to get students to school on time going forward?
Again, it should be noted that the state legislators and their policies lend to the trickle down of what we see as a good amount of district problems. CHCCS will have to keep being innovative with the resources we have and I have a few ideas that could help lessen the burden a lot of drivers face and ultimately the district faces.
I believe having to get up, drive their personal vehicles to the bus lot (possibly several miles from their residence), get in the bus, safely pick up and deliver their precious cargo (our students)… then get back in their personal vehicles and go to a totally different job… repeating this cycle once the school day lets out is taxing on any human.
I see a better path forward and hope to have that vision heard as a member of the CHCCS Board of Education.
11) If there is anything else you would like to address, please do so here.
It isn’t by accident that public education seems increasingly tied to politics. I would like to encourage you to do your own research on all of the candidates for CHCCS Board of Education and be an informed voter knowing that although public education could stand a facelift in many ways, there are many folx who come with private interests regarding the trajectory of public education. Don’t let anyone tiptoe around your intelligence; most importantly, whether for myself or someone else you deem qualified to fill one of the four CHCCS Board of Education seats up for election, please just exercise your right to vote! Our community is counting on you.
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