By Meredith Pruitt
Note: The Local Reporter has invited all candidates for local office in the upcoming Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro school district elections to submit up to two guest columns.
Two weeks ago, I launched my campaign for CHCCS Board of Education (BOE). It’s been a disruptive few years—most especially for our students, teachers, principals, administrators and parents. I’ve spent over 20 years in education public policy at the national and state level here in North Carolina, and I want to help us refocus and get back on track.
For a year and a half, our students were denied the opportunity to return to in-person learning, despite reputable scientific findings from the Center for Disease Control (“little evidence that schools have contributed meaningfully to increased community transmission”) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (“children absolutely need to return to in-school learning for their healthy development and well-being”).
On Sept. 1, the News and Observer reported the 2020-21 end of year testing results for our District, giving us a glimpse of what that time out of school cost our students. The results? Only 61.8% of our students are on grade level. Said another way, our district received a D- on ensuring our students are proficient in reading and math.
My platform isn’t rocket-science, and I wouldn’t pat myself on the back and claim it aspirational, but it’s time to refocus on what our students need to learn and thrive. My priorities are grounded in common sense. They are pragmatic, doable and measurable: kids learning full time and in person; a focus on the fundamentals of reading, math and science; BOE decision-making based on data; teacher, principal, and administrator professional development; and transparency in the use of our taxpayer dollars.
We live in a place that talks a lot about the virtues of respecting and incorporating all voices, but many of us feel unrepresented in the current dialogue. We cannot allow the pandemic to continue to distract us from the very real needs of our students and the sound, basic education that they are all entitled to. We need a BOE that is strategic, transparent and communicative. We need a BOE that wants to tackle the increasingly pervasive opportunity gap that exists in our district. We need to understand how the BOE prioritizes issues and financial decisions. We need a BOE who listens and acts.
I am running for BOE because I believe we have a responsibility to do better for our students and those who educate and support them. Election Day is Nov. 2, and Early Voting begins Oct. 14. If you want a trusted, dedicated problem solver who will make sure your voice is heard, then look no further – Vote Meredith Pruitt (www.meredithpruitt.com) for CHCCS Board of Education.
Meredith Pruitt is a candidate for the CHCCS Board of Education. She serves as Vice President of Strategic initiatives at UNC Health and is the former Chief of Staff and Senior Vice President at the UNC System.