As we noted in our post about vetting school board candidates, we have sent questionnaires to each school board candidate and are publishing them in the order received. Questions were compiled by board members of both Triangle Blog Blog and Bridging the Gap, and attendees of a four-part community read and discussion series on reparations and race at the Chapel Hill Public Library. The discussion series was led by Danita Mason-Hogans and Simona Goldin, the co-charpersons of the Equity and Schools Task Force, members of the UNC Commission on History, Race, and a Way Forward and members of the Chapel Hill community.
Jane S. Gabin is running for a seat on the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education.
Gabin has worked as an English teacher, a college admissions officer, and a college admissions counselor. She has substitute taught in the CHCCS school district since 2015. She is on Twitter and has a website.
Make your 2023 municipal election voting plan
Beginning with the 2023 municipal elections, North Carolina voters will be required to show photo ID when they check in to vote. Voters who vote by mail will be asked to include a photocopy of an acceptable ID when returning their ballot by mail.
Check your voter registration now. You can look it up here. This is really important particularly if you’ve moved in the past year.
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What is your vision for education in this community?
ALL students should receive the same basic information, be informed enough to think on their own, to express their views, and to be proficient in math and reading.
What do you see as the major issue(s) facing the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools? Public education?
Public education is suffering from those legislators who are trying to gut it. Voters must feel empowered to tell those legislators that if they try to dismantle public education, their constituents will vote against them.
What are three things that you believe the school board could be doing better?
Close the achievement gap.
Get the administrators to do some of the teaching.
What are the things you think the school board is currently doing right?
Each school has a warm and welcoming appearance.
Great teachers are honored.
There are multiple programs in which outstanding students are recognized.
How do you feel about CHCCS’s reputation as a preeminent school system while also maintaining one of the highest achievement gaps in the country for Black and Brown students?
The use of the word “maintaining” is significant. The “achievement gap” has certainly been maintained for 10, 20, 30, and 40 years. But there should be no achievement gap for Black and Brown students. It’s 2023. Yet we do have a gap. The time to do something that counts is early. There should be universal Pre-Kindergarten. ALL students should be considered for honors classes, and that means identifying them in the early grades. There should be no “tracking,” and ALL students should be expected to do well and have equal chances of getting into honors classes. The fact that there still is an achievement gap should be a source of shame for our school system.
The CHCCS statistics are great in terms of THIS state – but overall not that great when looked at nationally. This state is ranked #32 educationally in the US by WalletHub, and #43 by World Population Review. Our students are 60% proficient in math and 66% proficient in reading. That’s not anything to be proud of! Why are Green Level HS students rated as 87% proficient in reading? Why are students in the Pelham (New York) system rated as 81% proficient in reading? Why are students in the Vestavia Hills (Alabama) system rated as 83% proficient in reading? We have a way to go before we can claim bragging rights.
Do you support posting school demographic performance data on the front page of the district and school websites for transparency and choice options for parents and caretakers?
No – there are too many variables to consider.
What specific education policies would you advance to tackle the achievement and therefore opportunity gap? Then, how would you translate policy into action to ensure that all children are having their needs met by the district?
Class size needs to be MUCH smaller. But that would mean hiring more teachers, a major expenses for our school system. Therefore I recommend requiring each qualified administrator (with a bachelor’s degree) to teach at least one class.
In what school district or community activities/organizations have you been involved?
Chapel-Hill-Carrboro Schools. I was very involved when my own kids were in school. They graduated from East Chapel Hill HS in 2001 and 2005.
What changes should be made on the state and local level regarding public education?
Get the state to raise teacher salaries. As they are, it is embarrassing.
Relative to other schools, do our public schools have trouble hiring and retaining good teachers? (Explain your answer)
It is generally difficult for all schools to hire and retain excellent staff. One reason is that today there are more career choices for women, who made up the majority of the educational workforce in 1960. But it’s not 1960 any longer, and the state of North Carolina needs to keep up. But other states recognize teachers as a valuable resource, and pay them accordingly. Another piece of evidence is the list of openings for subs – there were seven on the first day of class in the 2023-2024 year.
What in your background leads you to believe that you would be an effective school board member?
I have experience in teaching (English at CHHS and ECHHS, and subbing since 2015 in various classes at all high schools). As a college counselor for 11 years, I have worked with secondary school students in groups and one-to-one. In my professional life (mostly in schools) I have worked in offices where cooperation for the greater good of the students was the ruling principle. Currently, I run a committee responsible for a book festival, lecture series, and special events.
In the past five years, housing prices in southern Chapel Hill and Carrboro have risen almost fifty percent. Homes in the CHCCS district are now selling for $600,000 and up, and two bedroom apartments rent for almost $2,000 per month. Unable to afford to live in our community, many CHCCS teachers and other school employees commute an hour or more each day just to get to work. Other than raising the salary supplement, how can CHCCS can help employees afford to live in our community? Would you support building school employee housing on school-owned land, as Buncombe County Schools did in 2017?
Yes. Prices for homes in Chapel Hill are certainly inflated, making it nearly impossible for low-wage workers (at UNC and in the CHCCS district) to afford to live here. I applaud what Buncombe County has done and would certainly back similar efforts here. Not only that, but if UNC dorms become unused because students have moved into the many apartment buildings around town, I would support their being repurposed as living spaces for families. Likewise the abundant empty office space in Chapel Hill.
Would you support closing, consolidating, or otherwise reimagining the use of magnet schools in our district? Please explain.
When she was about 10 – roughly 1994 – our daughter was chosen for a separate “gifted and talented” program in elementary school, but she would have to leave Ephesus for Glenwood. After consideration and a visit, we decided it was preferable to stay at Ephesus, which was only a couple of blocks from our house. I had to defend our choice at Lincoln Center before the school board and other officials. I was asked “but don’t you want your daughter to be in all small classes?” I responded: “No. I want all students to be in all small classes. Then you would find more ‘gifted and talented’ students.” My response was not popular. This is the philosophy I have retained. Magnet programs are not for the few, but for many. I would like to reimagine these to be more inclusive.
The CHCCS system says that it wants to “open opportunities for all of our learners.” That is admirable. Then why does the achievement gap persist?