Barbara Fedders says seeing her two children go through Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools since kindergarten has been rewarding, especially seeing the dedication of their teachers. But she adds that she’s also seen how overworked and underpaid those educators are.
Fedders entered the race for CHCCS’ Board of Education in July with the goal of advocating for teachers and for students’ education, she says, joining a race against more than a dozen other candidates vying for four seats.
“In a time of rampant misinformation and disinformation on the internet, rapid advances in artificial intelligence, and a worsening climate crisis, the stakes couldn’t be higher,” Fedders told Chapelboro. “We need to teach critical thinking skills, creativity, and collaboration to students so they can succeed in college, find meaningful work that pays a living wage if they choose not to attend college, and contribute to their communities. It’s not an exaggeration to say that democracy is under attack. Good public schools, which bring children and families of different racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds together, are essential for social cohesion and civic engagement.”
To help protect CHCCS’ teaching staff, Fedders said she believes the district must “do everything we can” to recruit staff while working around the state-determined salaries. She praised the district’s efforts to find additional ways to compensate teachers, but said more systemic changes — including work at the local government level to create more affordable living options — are needed to retain them. Fedders also praised district superintendent Nyah Hamlett for her communication and leadership on these issues and others during her tenure with CHCCS.
Among her other key issues, Fedders identified addressing students’ mental health challenges, opportunity gaps created by racism or poverty, and the lack of consideration for neurodivergent students. She said ensuring CHCCS supports its students social and emotional well-being, while also empowering initiatives like the Blue Ribbon Mentor Advocate Program and the Advancement via Individual Determination, are critical to doing this.
“We need to expand our definition of excellence beyond achievement on test scores, recognizing the gifts possessed by every student — including neurodivergent students, whose strengths are not always acknowledged,” said Fedders. “Also, right-wing elected officials are weaponizing homophobia and transphobia to score political points, and our LGBTQ+ students are suffering. I believe that my experience as a member of the LGBTQ+ community would add an important and missing perspective to the school board.”
Professionally, Fedders is a lawyer who presently works as an associate professor at the UNC School of Law. While there, she has directed the Youth Justice Clinic to provide support for court-involved youth. Additionally, she is the chair of Carrboro’s Community Safety Task Force, which examines how the town government can create public safety beyond traditional policing methods.
This year’s election for the CHCCS Board of Education drew a variety of candidates, with 19 at one point on the ballot. Two candidates formally withdrew their names before the deadline, leaving 17 on the ballot this fall hoping to earn one of four seats that will hold a four-year term.
Early voting for the fall local government elections begins on Thursday, October 19, while Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.
For a full list of races Chapelboro is covering this 2023 local election cycle, click here. Additional coverage on candidates can be found on the Local Elections page, as well as other updates in the races as the election cycle continues this fall.
Photo via THE BARBARA FEDDERS CAMPAIGN.
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