To learn about other candidates’ stances on the issues, read their 2011 Candidate Questionnaires.

Name as it appears on the ballot: Mary Ann Weathers

Party affiliation, if any: Democrat

Campaign website: contact me at

Occupation & Employer: retired educator

Years lived in NC: 65 (off and on)

Given the current direction of the Wake County school system, would you say things are generally on the right course? If not, what are the specific, major changes you will advocate if elected?

Teachers are demoralized and students are being dehumanized because the school board is BROKEN and threatens to destroy the entire school system.

In your district, please identify the priority needs as you see them.

District 6, a growing minority population is at risk of being disenfranchised because their lives are being minimized by the school board.

What in your record as a public official or other experience demonstrates your ability to be effective as a member of the school board? If you’ve identified specific issues above, what in your record has prepared you to be an effective advocate for them?

I have forty years experience working as a teacher, administrator, and consultant at the local, state, and national levels.

How do you identify yourself to others in terms of your political philosophy? For example, do you tell people you’re a conservative, a progressive, a libertarian, or what?

I am a progressive in that I believe in accepting situations as they exist and using available resources to remedy those situations.

The Independent’s mission is to help build a just community in the Triangle. If elected, how will your service in office help further that goal?

My credentials as an educated, experienced professional educator have prepared me to take on the board members who would make Wake County an unjust community. I have the competence and courage.

Please address the following major issues that are before the Wake school board:

How should the school board resolve the issue of neighborhood schools and diversity? Is there a need to balance the two, and if so, how should that be done? Does Superintendent Tata’s “Blue Plan” do the job?

The superintendent’s plan is a good beginning; the challenge will be ensuring that each child’s needs and talents are addressed, no matter where he or she lives.

If the Blue Plan is adopted, is it important to you that diversity be achieved – as Mr. Tata proposes — by reserving a substantial number of seats in high-achieving schools for kids coming from other, low-achieving neighborhoods? Or should proximity to a school be the overriding factor in student assignment even if results in some schools with high percentages of low-achieving students?

If we do not make achievement the overriding driver for all assignments, the result will be apartheid and greater stress on community resources, rather than contributions from all segments.

What additional programs or resources, if any, do you think are needed to address the needs of low-performing students and close the historic achievement gap between students from affluent and low-income families?

Schools must continue to take on more and more of the needs of students. Demography does not have to be destiny.

What’s your view of the need for another school construction bond referendum in the next two years? If one is needed, should be about the same, bigger or smaller than the 2006 bond of $970 million.

I will need to study the numbers before making such a decision.

The current school board declined to seek additional revenues from the Wake County Commissioners even as the number of students in the school system grew. The result is a substantial drop in per-student funding from the county (on top of state funding cuts). Did you favor this approach? If elected, will you continue the policy? Or seek more money from the county?

I would seek an audit of the funds currently available before requesting more. Let’s cut the waste before asking for more.

At the state level and in Wake County, some advocate for more charter schools and for tuition tax credits for private schools as a way of shaking up the public school system and creating more “competition” for students Others say this approach undermines the public school system. In this debate, where do you stand?

We need to maximize the success of public schools, not take resources away to fund the goals of private special interest groups.

As you look forward, what major changes (e.g., longer school days, year-round schools, pedagogy changes) should be made to public education here and elsewhere in the United States to better prepare students for the world they’ll live in? As a Wake school board member, how can you help in this regard?

As a board member, I would use my years of experience, particularly in the area of curriculum and instruction to encourage more effective teaching and learning.

To learn about other candidates’ stances on the issues, read their 2011 Candidate Questionnaires.