CHARLOTTE — Voters head to the polls on Nov. 8 to elect a new city council and at-large school board members. Two school board candidates stand out as strong allies and advocates.
Lloyd Scher served for eight years on the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. That experience, he says, makes him an ideal candidate for the board of education.
“Having served on the county commission and having done eight years of budgeting, I understand what it takes,” Scher told qnotes. “I understand what changes we really need to do to make the process better.”
Scher’s service on the county commission coincided with one of the area’s most high-profile LGBT controversies, when the so-called “Gang of Five” commissioners voted to strip some $2 million from public arts funding following a staging of the gay-themed play, “Angels in America.” He was a nearly-lone voice speaking out forcefully in opposition to the cuts.
Scher says he’ll bring the same passion and commitment to his service on the board of education, though he says politics there is and should be much different.
“When I had to deal with the Gang of Five, that was ‘politics’” Scher recounts. “That was mean, unqualified and pure hatred. That is not what will go on in the school board. We have to know how to treat things that need respect with respect. If we can’t respect ourselves on the board, how are students going to respect us?”
Darrin Rankin, also running for an at-large school board seat, has never held public office. Nonetheless, he, too, brings a kind of passion and commitment many often find lacking in politics today. A candidate for city council in 2009, Rankin has consistently reached out to LGBT citizens and voters.
Inclusion, he says, is important for LGBT students and parents.
“We need to knock down barriers and eliminate discrimination and fight for human rights to make sure our students are prepared as they exit high school,” he says.
He also understands the role LGBT citizens play as school system employees.
“When you look at the LGBT community you see some are employees in the school system and government,” he says. “They understand the challenges in education as well as challenges in the work place.”
One of the many issues facing school board candidates this year are controversies over “performance pay” for teachers.
Rankin favors it, though with caution.
“It’s good overall,” Rankin says, “but we need to make some adjustments and we have to be fair when we implement performance pay. Not every classroom is identical. In one classroom, children might show up ready to learn with all their supplies and you go down the hall or to another school and children might be coming to school hungry or have emotional or health problems.”
Scher, who is opposed, is more blunt: “It sucks,” he says, adding, “A test doesn’t show what else is happening in a student’s life and it is not the way teachers should be paid. These are professionals and they should be paid like professionals.”
Scher and Rankin were both endorsed by the Mecklenburg LGBT Political Action Committee (MeckPAC), along with candidates Aaron Pomis and Jeff Wise. : :