“We spend way too much time stressing out about standardized tests. Students are stressed as young as third grade and all the way through high school, and teachers are being held accountable for data we don’t believe is making a difference for education,” he said.
Barrett endorsed all three incumbents potentially running for re-election, Margaret Samuels, Pat Heinrich and Rani Dasi, and also offered an open door to potential challengers.
“They are smart people who care, and I know are committed to the success of each and every student in our district,” Barrett said. “But I am also willing to talk with anyone else who wants to consider running.”
Barrett will face fellow democrat, Jen Mangrum, a former UNC Greensboro professor, in the primary election. Incumbent Mark Johnson was the first republican state superintendent in North Carolina in 100 years and has not yet announced his plans for re-election.
Margaret Samuels, chairwoman of the CHCCS Board of Education, personally endorsed Barrett’s candidacy.
“I think you can’t possibly get someone with more support and more advocacy for public education than James Barrett,” Samuels said.
During his tenure on the board, Barrett said his greatest influence on CHCCS was addressing disparities in performance between disadvantaged students and their peers by hiring an equity director. He said the focus on equity has led to the school system modifying discipline practices, changing hiring practices to recruit and train teachers of color and making instructional changes to provide culturally relevant information to students.
“I remember when he first ran for school board, he was one of the biggest voices of ways to close the achievement gap of what we need to do and focus on to get that done,” Samuels said. “He’s really brought out the conversation on equity in our district in a new way, and across the state we need to focus on equity.”
Barrett will face Mangrum in the primary election in 2020.