Former history teacher J. Al Baldwin announced his candidacy for the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education as a write-in candidate during an informal Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town (CHALT) hosted meet and greet Thursday.
Baldwin, a former teacher of 28 years and UNC alumnus, has chosen to run for one of the four available seats on the CHCCS Board of Education against the eight current candidates. As a write-in, Baldwin's name will not be on the ballot, but voters can still vote for him by writing in his name.
Baldwin's complaints regarding the board revolve around his intense love for his fellow teachers.
"Teachers are leaving, and they're leaving fast," he said. "Teachers feel like no one has their back".
Mike Kelley, current chair of the board, explained to Baldwin the Board of Education exists for teachers to vent their complaints through, but Baldwin felt differently. Baldwin said the board makes no effort to connect and build trust with teachers or the school and that the teachers are leaving for this reason.
"We don't hang out with the teachers," Kelley said.
Baldwin said he finds it ironic the school board consistently dictates how teachers should work without being questioned, but teachers are then expected to teach students critical speaking. Kelley objected and said teachers have always had the right to discuss issues with the board.
Baldwin said he finds teachers consistently leaving the school district has led to a lower quality of teachers emerging in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. These teachers then pass students who aren't prepared for the next level without effort.
"Teachers nowadays will look at their phones while children do presentations, and of course they give them an A," Baldwin said. "We should never tolerate that."
Candidate Gregg Gerdau said Chapel Hill's high cost of living also hurts the city's ability to recruit and keep teachers. He explained teachers sometimes had to live up to an hour away in order to afford living on a first-year teacher's salary.
Baldwin said it wasn't the current candidates that influenced him to run, but rather the progressive change in Chapel Hill and Carrboro's education that now ignored teachers.
"Every single thing (the candidates) said tonight, I heard back in the eighties," he said.
While Baldwin doesn't necessarily want to win the race, he does want to make sure his key issue is discussed and becomes a larger focus of the election.
"I'd kind of rather be on the outside and have people listen to what I'm saying," he said.
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