This week’s Rhino Coverage…and is Sandra Alexander the one chosen by Kearns?

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Excellent campaign coverage in this week’s Rhino Times (thanks, Paul Clark).

But what’s interesting are the quotes from oppositional candidate Dr. Sandra Alexander. See, it was rumored that Dot Kearns’ hand-picked candidate was oppositional candidate Michael McKinney. But look at the quotes from Alexander, and they seem very supportive and sympathetic of Kearns.

Here’s the article:

The announcement by Guilford County Board of Education member Dot Kearns that she will not run for reelection has thrown the race for her at-large seat wide open, with three candidates filing to run in the last two days before the Friday, Feb. 29 deadline.

Sandra Alexander filed on Feb. 28 for the at-large race. Both Erik Huey and Alan Hawkes filed for the at-large race on Feb. 29. Huey had been wavering between a run for the at-large seat and the District 5 seat now occupied by school board member Anita Sharpe, who is also not running for re-election.

The new candidates join other at-large candidates High Point resident Michael McKinney, a vice president and community lender for Southern Community Bank and Trust, and David Crawford, who filed last year to run for the Greensboro City Council but dropped out of that race and announced his intention to run for 6th District Congressman Howard Coble’s seat and for City Council in 2009.

Crawford said he filed to run for City Council in 2009. However, what he did was file to create a candidate committee for the 2009 City Council race, certifying that he would raise no more than $3,000, the threshold for reporting funding sources. Filing to actually run for that race does not open until July 2009.

So a total of five candidates are vying for Kearns’ seat, one of two at-large seats on the 11-member school board.

Despite the interest in the at-large seat, there will be little competition in the school board race as a whole. Only one other seat of the six on the ballot this year is contested – that in District 3, where Oak Ridge resident Mike Stone, a manager at Pactiv Corp., is challenging incumbent Darlene Garrett.

In the two other districts with open seats, District 5 and District 1, candidates are running unopposed. J. Carlvena Foster, executive director of the Carl Chavis Memorial Branch YMCA in High Point, is running unopposed for the District 1 seat now held by school board member Walter Childs. Greensboro attorney Paul Daniels is running unopposed for the District 5 seat now held by Sharpe.

School board member Kris Cooke is running unopposed for reelection in District 7, as is school board member Amos Quick in District 9.

One possible candidate decided at the last minute not to run. Linda Welborn, of the Southeast Educational Advancement Coalition, a group supporting school construction in the southeastern part of the county, considered running for the District 5 seat, but decided against it.

Welborn said the coalition gives her a better platform to focus on the interests of residents of that part of the county. “If I went into the school board, I felt I would lose that,” Welborn said.

Welborn said she made the decision after Daniels’ entry into the race.

“For the most part, our views are the same,” Welborn said. “We would have been pulling votes against each other.”

Both Welborn and Daniels support the $457 in school construction bonds headed for the May 6 ballot. Daniels said that he would work for passage of the bonds, contrary to an earlier statement by Huey.

Daniels and Huey said they share concerns about the Guilford County Schools’ management of school construction projects. Huey, however, comes down against the bonds, while Daniels says the need for new schools is too great for voters to delay the proposed projects.

“We’ve got to get this bond passed, and we’ve got to get these schools,” Daniels said.

At noon on Feb. 29, the filing deadline, Huey spoke to reporters outside the Board of Elections office in the Old Guilford County Court House on West Market Street.

Billed as a press conference by Huey, the gathering also attracted Daniels, Welborn and District 62 State Rep. John Blust, who filed to run for reelection on Feb. 11.

Daniels and Huey pledged to support each others’ candidacies, which doesn’t mean much for Daniels, who is unopposed. Huey also announced “mutual support” between himself and Garrett, who does have an opponent.

“I think Erik has got a lot of great ideas,” Daniels said. “He’s certainly not a business-as-usual candidate. I think Erik on the board would be an asset and a source of good ideas.”

Huey, who was the last candidate to file to run for the school board, became involved in school board issues in 2006, when he opposed the Guilford County Schools student reassignment plan.

“I challenged the school board two years ago to stop busing our children,” Huey said. “In many cases, our children and our schools are worse off than they were two years ago.”

The irony in the race is that, two years ago, he expected a one-against-one fight against Kearns, an experienced and politically strong school board member who has held public office since 1972. Instead, he’s in a “wide-open” five-way brawl for an open seat, he said.

Huey called for “change and reform” in the schools. Blust couldn’t resist a dig at his fellow Republican.

“I heard you mention change,” Blust said. “Are you also for hope?”

The question, a reference to the mantra of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, drew laughter from the group.

Yes, Huey responded, he could throw his support behind hope.

“I’m very hopeful that, with the right superintendent and the right talent on the school board and the right people in the front office, our children can look forward to hope,” Huey said.

Huey said he, Daniels, Garrett and school board member Garth Hebert would form a “voting bloc for change” in the schools. He said he and Daniels shared a concern about a lack of openness by the current school administration.

Blust and Huey agreed that school administrators are discouraging principals and teachers from reporting problems, including discipline problems, in the schools. Blust said that pressure from the administration creates a “climate of fear” among teachers. Huey agreed.

“There is a culture of fear that permeates Guilford County schools,” Huey said.

Guilford County Schools should have an independent ombudsman position, similar to such positions at newspapers, Huey said.

“I would think, as a school board member, you would want to hear what is actually happening, not what the superintendent tells you,” Blust said.

Huey got back at Blust for his dig by saying problems with school funding extend to the North Carolina General Assembly.

“I have a very big problem with how school funding is handled in Raleigh,” Huey said.

Huey said that, if elected, he would work for a less confrontational relationship between the school board and the Guilford County Board of Commissioners. The two boards regularly clash over school funding, and the school board in 2000 sued the Board of Commissioners, claiming that it had not provided enough money to adequately run the schools.

“The current relationship between the two boards could best be described as ‘toxic,'” Huey said.

Hawkes, who works for American Solar Inc., of Greensboro, and who has run for school board three times but never won, cited his experience as a member of the board of Greensboro Academy, a 120-student kindergarten through eighth grade charter school on Battleground Avenue.

Hawkes said it’s the highest performing public school in the county, with academic growth matched by only two other public schools.

Hawkes said the consolidation of the county schools in 1993, touted as a way to get economies of scale, instead created an overly large system in which problems cannot be solved quickly.

“I think a lot of the politicians who advocated that, if they’re the least bit honest, would probably admit it hasn’t worked out the way it was intended to,” Hawkes said.

Hawkes said that foremost among the problems in the current school system is discipline, and added that Guilford County schools are “a war zone,” unsafe for faculty and disruptive for students, he said.

“I don’t know if the school board, in its current composition, is capable of dealing with that,” Hawkes said.

Hawkes said violent students are returned to classes too quickly, creating discipline problems for the teachers and other students.

“We need to deal with them,” Hawkes said. “But we don’t need to deal with them in that setting.”

Hawkes also accused Guilford County Schools of building “opulent, extravagant” school buildings. He again cited Greensboro Academy as an alternative model, and described it as a “cookie-cutter,” $3 million building whose cost was rolled into the school’s operating budget.

Hawkes said he was dubious about the proposed school bonds.

“I haven’t examined each and every part of those bonds, but my guess is there’s a lot in there that can be taken out,” Hawkes said. “I’m not sure we have the competence on Eugene Street to spend money responsibly.”

Alexander, a first-time candidate, said she is a long-term admirer of Kearns, who she described as “an educational icon” in the county. A graduate of NC A&T State University with a master’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh, Alexander has been an English teacher and administrator at three colleges, including A&T. She now runs her own business, Greensboro Scenic Tours.

“I feel that my experience as a veteran educator and my experience as a business owner uniquely qualify me for this position,” Alexander said.

Alexander said the school board, in its search for a replacement for Superintendent Terry Grier, should look for someone very like Grier.

“The superintendent that we get has to have many of the qualities that I admire in Dr. Grier: his creative educational programming, his innovative spirit,” Alexander said. “We certainly should be looking for that kind of person.”

Alexander, whose two children went through Guilford County schools, acknowledged that the at-large race would be a formidable task. Although she lives in District 4, east of Greensboro, she said she would reach out to Kearns’ High Point base. “I plan to address their needs to a great extent,” she said.

Alexander said the election may draw first-time voters energized by the presidential race. She hopes to attract some of those voters, she said.

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E.C. )

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20 Responses

  1. E.C., I agree, it appears Alexander is the status quo candidate. She needs to be defeated.

  2. She is now public enemy No.1.

    Its the death wish for her candidacy.

  3. Ms. Alexander has an impressive educational achievement record, but her record since graduation isn’t quite as impressive. She instructed at some schools, and operates a scenic tours business in Greensboro. I didn’t know that Greensboro was the tourist capital? Can it be that much of a thriving business? When she says “my experience as a veteran educator and my experience as a business owner uniquely qualify me for this position”, I am not sure that I see a tight match with the job of school board member.

  4. EC,

    Please change the title of this post. For someone who doesn’t know better, using the term “chosen one” might mean that you’re supporting her.

  5. I would love to ask Mrs. Alexander just what exactly does she think that District 4 needs?

    The Rhino says:
    “she would reach out to Kearns’ High Point base. I plan to address their needs to a great extent”

    That makes me SICK! First of all, Dot has no “Base”! When you are an At-Large rep. you have no “base”!!! You are supposed to be advocating for the ENTIRE county!!

    And what does Alexander mean when she says she “plans to address their needs to a great extent”? HUH?? Does she mean the needs that Dot told her existed? She needs to spell out EXACTLY what needs she feels Dist. 4 needs and she better do it FAST or she just made MUD of her name already!

    Oh my goodness if you ask me, this woman is a Dot clone and I might be wrong but it seems she is puppeting what Dot tells her to say!

  6. She CAN NOT be elected!

  7. Of all the candidates, I know EC and Sandra personally, although I don’t know EC well. Guarino’s indictment of Dr. Alexander as a “status quo” candidate is totally unfounded and I’d venture a guess that he’s hardly, if ever, spoken to her or listened to her ideas. She has worked a whole career as an educator and administrator and then became an entrepreneur after retiring (after a distinguished career). She cares deeply about student achievement, about education as a large part of the solution especially for minority youth and has shown she has the gumption to open and sustain a small business.

    No, I’m not “in her camp” and haven’t decided for whom to vote, but listening to Guarino’s ‘status quo’ rant as if he has the right to label someone he doesn’t know or whose career and policies he is not familiar with is the same darned knee-jerk crap we have to avoid if we are going to elect quality candidates.

    I think EC is one of those quality candidates as well and I’m not telling you whose lever to pull. Just don’t listen to one ultra-conservative blogger with a record of anti-woman rants when making your decision.

    Joe has blogged that he longs for the days when women were not believed when they said they were raped. He believes the Simkins PAC is totally evil and has a secret formula for controlling Greensboro government (through intimidation, I think). His kids don’t go to public schools.

    When you listen to criticism, listen to it intelligently and critically. Even mine. It’s all online: go check it out for yourselves.

  8. Sue,

    It sounds like you have a bone to pick with Joe. Perhaps you could take that up directly with him. The rest of us don’t need to get involved in this playground spat.

  9. Sorry to disappoint, but this relates directly to his comment above and impacts on a school board election. I have no bones, no picking and no spat. I have issues with declaring someone’s candidacy as “status quo” and “needs defeating” with nothing (facts, that is) to back it up. I think it’s appropriate here unless EC doesn’t want the conversation on his blog.

  10. Like it or not, anyone who says we need a superintendant “very like Grier ” is a status quo candidate. It doesn’t mean she’s a bad person or unqualified. It just means that she’s not the kind of candidate those of us who want change will support.

  11. Cathy,

    Amen. Exactly. Status quo has gotten the board of education out of the business of educating our children and instead focusing their time and efforts on increasing minority contractor awards.

    Out with Grier and all who believe that he was a great superintendent.

    We need fresh, no-nonsense, and fiscally responsible thinkers like Huey.

    Also, Huey has a young child in the GCS system. If Alexander is retired, she’s likely to be another out-of-touch educrat and likely has no children in the system.

  12. Alexander looks up to Kearns. Just what has Kearns done? Kearns has been part of the demise of Education in this County. She has been instrumental in driving out the middle class from High Point schools.

    Kearns and all those that think like her need to be OUT.
    End of story.

  13. I think it’s a shame that the District 1 and 5 races are unopposed. I don’t know much about either candidate, but the voters deserve a choice regardless.

    In the District 1 case, Carlvena Foster appears to be the hand-picked successor to Walter Childs. One of the reasons Andrews High School is in such bad shape is because District 1 has had such non-existant leadership (going back well before Dr. Childs).

  14. I’m still waiting for Ms. Alexander to spell out what “needs” she thinks Dist. 4 needs…..Also, it’ll be interesting to hear what Dot did that she’s so impressed with–could it be the “Choice Plan” that so marveled Ms. Alexander? Why is she so enamored by Dorothy Kearns? That right there is losing her lots of votes. She better be DARN careful attaching her self to Dot Kearns.

    Sue4321, I would be worrying less about what Joe says about Ms. Alexander. It’s her VERY OWN words that have me in an uproar!

  15. Just what did Dot Kearns do?

  16. Dot Kearns Destroyed public education in High Point

  17. Wow…that’s pretty harsh.

    Dot Kearns is naive but not cognizant malicious. She still believes that if you let them come to school, they will come. This idea is not new. For many school-aged children in her time, school was an escape from farming. It was a much needed reprieve from the back-breaking work of soybean and tobacco farming — and there is nothing wrong with that either.

    Guilford County Students did not benefit from the merger as a whole. But, there was precious little Dot Kearns could have done to prevent it. The Greensboro Tax Payers ruined High Point Education. Let’s not be confused. Greensboro took the tax money after it annexed the County.

    This, of course, happened miles away from Emerywood, however…

    This is why Emerywood is For Sale right now. The GCS merger was one of many steps in High Point’s recent demise. I should know. I graduated from High School right as High Point’s youth were put under a social microscope. I graduated High Point University right before the tech market crashed.

    Montlieu Avenue School Alumnus Fantasia Barrino admitted to being illiterate in the National News. She is only 8 years younger than I am. She would have come through the Elementary School in 1992-3. My guess is that she was 8 years old.

    How do you teach an 8 year old to read when there is sex, drug, and gang activity drawing his or her attention to the streets? Barrino was a single mom overcoming Domestic Abuse. It’s impossible not to see how her story resonates.

    She did win the 3rd Season of American Idol, after all…

    Makes me wonder what America idolizes, how about you?

    As a Side-Bar:
    Somebody ought to encourage Condoleezza Rice to run on the Republican ticket.

    “Punish France, ignore Germany, and forgive Russia.” – Says Condi

    “Punish Greensboro, ignore High Point, and Love New York.” – Says PA

    It wasn’t long before education was my primary goal.

    God Bless GCS Teachers.

  18. PA –

    As reported in the News and Record, High Point leads the state in per capita enrollment in private and home schools. That is a fact. If you chart the numbers, the escalation turned exponential when Kearns started pushing the HP choice plan. That is a fact.

    She was only interested in returning High Point Central to is 1950’s glory. And as she attempted to do so, the statistics for both Andrews and Southwest high schools declined exponentially. That is a fact.

    The irony is that Central wasn’t returned to its 1950’s glory.

    Kearns refused to even listen to the parents in North High Point. So, the parents voted with their feet and simply left the public school system. You will now find many enrolled in the Northwest Schools as many moved to that part of the county – you know – the “untouchable” part of the county.

    The numbers don’t lie.

    Instead of focusing on intense teaching of those who needed it, Kearns’ idea was to bus children across the city in the hopes of “hiding” the underperformers.

    The losers in this situation – all children in High Point.

    I’ll say it again – Dot Kearns Destroyed public education in High Point

    Harsh? Yes. Honest? Yes.

  19. And all of the constant busing and redistricting did little to combat High Point’s grotesque illiteracy problem, as documented by a recent YES! Weekly article, which I profiled here.

  20. Just wondering if you knew who was running McKinney’s campaign and if Dr. Alexander has a campaign website

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