Board of education candidates Q & A – District 2 | #Education

Sandhills Sentinel spoke with those pursuing Moore County Board of Education seats in November.

All candidates were provided a list of questions that they responded to in written form. Questions for each candidate are identical, and the candidates’ submitted answers have not been altered in any way. The order of candidates reflects the order they will appear on the ballot.

Helena Wallin-Miller

How long have you lived in Moore County?

My husband and I made our home in Moore County 15 years ago – in 2005. Our children were both born at Moore Regional Hospital and entered Moore County Schools in kindergarten. 

What is your educational background?

I have a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Claremont McKenna College and a master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University. 

Have you ever served in an elected office?

I have served on the Moore County Board of Education since 2015. I was elected vice chair in 2017 and served as chair for two terms in 2018 and 2019. 

For incumbents- What would you have done differently if you had the chance?

I would have spent more time up in Raleigh aggressively advocating for changed laws and more funding to support our students and staff. Moore County ranks 108th in state funding for public schools out of 115 districts. The legislature did give teachers raises over the past few years, but they did so by cutting other funding. They cut teachers in grades 4-12; cut lottery funding for facilities; cut textbook funding; and did not raise salaries for our mechanics, bus drivers, nutrition staff, and other non-teaching personnel.

What unique qualities will you bring to the office?

I am a leader – since joining the Board in 2015, I have helped the Board increase graduation rates by 6%, increase teacher satisfaction by 9%, increase career and college coursework and certification completion by 600%, and made difficult decisions to balance the budget.

I am an advocate – since 2013, I have invested time and my professional analytical and communication expertise to advocate for funding, staff, facilities, and new buildings. 

I am an active MCS parent – Over the past 9 years I have  personally witnessed what our students are accomplishing academically, athletically, in the arts, and with extracurriculars. I see first-hand what our teachers need, and I understand our staff’s deep and unfailing commitment to our students and our community.

Why are you the best candidate for the office?

I am the best candidate because I believe that public education is the backbone of a strong and thriving community. While not an educator, I have spent my entire 30-plus year career working to improve the lives of communities, children, and families. I have made difficult financial decisions to balance the MCS budget. I have collaborated with parents, community members, businesses and the community college to achieve common goals and tackle difficult problems.

Robert M. Levy  

How long have you lived in Moore County?

I began living in Moore County (Southern Pines) when I was two months old. After graduating Pinecrest High School and UNC Chapel Hill, I spent the next 40 years involved in law school and a subsequent legal career in Los Angeles, California. However, I maintained a business and real estate holdings  in Moore County (both Pinehurst and Southern Pines). Beginning 10 years ago, I gradually  transitioned back to living full time in Moore County and managing my business here.

What is your educational background? 

After graduating Pinecrest High School, I was awarded a BA degree with Honors in History and a  second major in Sociology from UNC Chapel Hill. I obtained my Juris Doctor from the University of the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. My graduate teaching degree was awarded from UNC Charlotte with a 4.0 GPA. My student teaching was completed at Union Pines High School. 

My published works include a law review article entitled Bakke and Affirmative Action,  an exploration of the legal issues surrounding race in college admissions and the book “ Divorce, A Cynical Experience,” exploring the complications of child custody and property settlements during episodes of divorce and domestic violence.

Have you ever served in an elected office?

No

For challenger of an incumbent- What is one thing your opponent did while in office that you would have done differently?

My opponent and I disagree on many issues. They include holding the superintendent responsible for multiple D rated schools, her position against school choice, her support of experimentation with social justice supported by critical race theory and her defense of placing our newest elementary school near a Superfund toxic waste dump. Most recently she approved the use of psychological surveys questioning children’s sexual practices and sexual preferences without first obtaining the permission of their parents and guardians.

In short, my opponent and I differ on our approach to education. She is a member of the “progressive” educational establishment and supports the redistricting of our students by using race and class as one way to change the performance poorly rated schools. By placing more affluent students in troubled schools, she and the current Board of Education hope to artificially raise the test scores of these poorly rated schools. Unfortunately, this will not help children whose challenges created the poor school rating in the first place.

I want to see lower class size, fewer administrators and intense, remedial education programs to raise reading and math proficiency. I would abandon social experimentation in favor of basic education and better vocational education for older students. I would also hold our superintendent personally accountable when any school is rated poorly.

The attitude of my opponent is that Moore is doing well. My belief is “Moore Can Do Better”

What unique qualities will you bring to the office?

As a licensed teacher, I have taught in almost every high school and middle school in Moore County. Therefore, I understand the day to day problems that plague both our students and teachers as they strive to create and enjoy an important learning experience As a practicing attorney experienced in both family and juvenile law, I realize the challenges with which many parents and students are burdened. From a single parent raising several children, often attending different schools, to students who are homeless and rely on  our school food programs, I am familiar with the problems they face. And as a businessman who has had to finance a difficult payroll while showing respect for workers and their family responsibilities, I am well suited to innovate and “think outside the box” to create success.

Most importantly, I am a lifelong conservative. Even as the former chairman of the Moore County Republican Party and the President of the 2012 North Carolina Electoral College, I am motivated to represent all citizens, Democrat, Republican Independents and members of minor parties. Regardless of their parents’ politics, I want to give our children the best education possible. 

Why are you the best candidate for the office?

My opponent is very well meaning and tries hard to fulfill her school board position. But she fails to challenge the social experimentation being practiced on our children. Recently, she approved a survey inquiring into the sexual preference of very young students without first obtaining parental permission. She advocated selling old schools at “ fire sale prices” rather than keeping the schools in reserve for inevitable future expansion. She presided over the placement of one school near a toxic waste dump and approved building that  D-rated school for about $33 million dollars. A similar charter  school nearby was privately built for less than $3 million. 

I am a person who is not afraid to challenge our superintendent and our administrators when, in the midst of a pandemic, they spend time and money on psychological surveys. I understand that every amount of energy needs to be directed toward traditional education. 

I will not tolerate such philosophies as “critical race theory” and “ social justice.” I will recognize the prerogative of our parents and their churches to teach our children morality while I will work with our parents and teachers to bring excellent traditional education to all our students regardless of their race, religion or station in life.

I am the better candidate because I want to take politics out of our schools and replace it with meaningful educational opportunity.

Early voting is from Oct. 15- 31. The election is November 3.

You can find more information on the Moore County Board of Elections website.

Contributed photos: L, R; Helena Wallin-Miller and Robert Levy.

Article by Sandhills Sentinel Journalism Intern Stephanie M. Sellers.


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