Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Alas, I did not make it to the ballot in November

I want to thank everyone who supported me in various ways. I did not get enough votes in the primary to be on the ballot in November but I have learned a lot and am committed to remaining involved.

There are other good candidates for the school board who are still in the running. I am still hopeful that we will see some changes in the make up of the school board in the Fall. It is too soon for me to endorse anyone but I probably will and will explain why.

Thanks again!!


Saturday, April 17, 2010

Letter to the Editor published today (Saturday, 17-Apr)

Thank you, Mike, for the great letter.  I've reproduced it below and you can find it on the Journal's website at http://www2.journalnow.com/content/2010/apr/17/missing-something/opinion-letters/It is the last letter published today, so just scroll down to the bottom or read it here:

Heart for the kids

I endorse Norman Hill for District Two of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board. Norman and I recently spent some time together discussing his ideas for improving the system and sharing what we believe to be most important.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson's Career-Ready Commission spent the past year studying the N.C. school systems and found that our students are facing "A Crisis of Relevance." In her comments to the State Board of Education on April 1, about the commission's final report by that name, she said, "Too many young people are failing to see that what they are learning in our K-12 public schools is relevant to their plans for future training, education and careers."
It is obvious that the current focus is wrongly placed and we need some influence on our board that will push for relevant curriculum with career preparation rather than pure college prep. Over half of students who go to college right out of high school drop out. We should be helping these students identify their gifts and encouraging them to follow their hearts rather than the path that the status quo says they should follow.Norman's heart is for the kids and that is why he has committed to serve our community. Please join me in supporting him with your vote.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Signs, website, fliers, cards... OH MY!

Okay, we're starting to distribute yard signs.  Jennifer is doing a great job of keeping track of where they are going and finding places to put them in as many precincts as we can manage.  We also have fliers which are perfect to hand out or have on a counter or table to be picked up and cards which are perfect to hand out, post or have beside a cash register.   All the new material has the website address on it (www.normanhill4schoolboard.com) which should be up later tonight.  In the meantime the traffic is directed here to this blog which is okay.  The website will have a link to the blog and the facebook page anyway, but it will be a better place for static information such as how to find out whether you can vote for me and perhaps a link to donate to the campaign online.

That's it for now.  I'll post more later tonight.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


If you like the convenience of early voting, it starts on Thursday.  Full details can be found on the Board of Elections website here.   This is also your opportunity to vote if  you missed the registration deadline - it is a one-stop deal - you can register and vote at the same time.   Please vote and encourage your friends to vote.  This election matters.  Nothing we do locally is more important than our schools and there are real choices to make. PLEASE VOTE! :)

Life in Forsyth: (chanting) NORMAN! NORMAN! NORMAN!

A big shout out goes to Esbee (aka Lucy) over at one of the best (personally, I think it is the best) local blogs, who just published a link to this blog. Thank you, Esbee!

Life in Forsyth: (chanting) NORMAN! NORMAN! NORMAN!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I attended the 2010 Poet Laureate Program tonight and got to hear some wonderful poets reciting their own poetry and they just happened to also be WS/FC students. It was a real treat and they were all winners in my book. I was surprised that only three school board candidates (including one incumbent) attended. Thanks to all who made the evening possible!  Thank you, Forsyth Educational Partnership, WS/FC School System, parents, teachers, and, most of all, our student poets who had the talent and the courage!  The results of this year's competition have not been posted yet but information can be found at http://www.allianceforeducation.org/poetlaureate.html and you can purchase books of the poetry which was entered.

By the way, I have decided that the time has come to solicit small donations.  I am still planning to stay under the $1000 threshold through the primary but I may order some yard signs before then and we'll definitely have fliers for distribution.   You may send your contributions in the form of checks made out to "Norman Hill for School Board" to me at 201 Turnbridge Dr., Lewisville, NC 27023.   If you contribute over $50, I am required to report your address and occupation along with your name, so please provide that information or I will not be able to accept your contribution.   The check must clearly indicate that it is a contribution to my campaign.

Monday, March 29, 2010

District Leadership That Works

The title of this post is actually the title of an interesting book I've been reading.  It is based on a meta-analysis of existing research studies and examines the relationship between district leadership and student achievement.   It does appear from this research that students benefit from clear, unified, direction by the district and that schools do a better job when given some autonomy towards reaching those goals.  The book begins by reminding us about William Bennett giving the nickname "the blob" to the administration of public schools which he said stood for "bloated educational bureaucracy."  This may be a prescient reminder.  However this book is not an assault on district leadership rather it contains suggestions on how district leadership can be more effective.  It involves setting clear, nonnegotiable goals for achievement and instruction in collaboration with schools, teachers, parents, and board members then giving the schools and teachers the freedom to pursue those goals.

This is turning out to be a very busy week so it may be next week before I write much more.  However,  I want to write about my thoughts about school assignment issues, how we should measure student achievement, discipline issues, and other issues as they arise.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Don't shortchange our kids or our teachers!

Now, I know that decisions are never easy when budgets are tight and it is much easier to sit on the sidelines and second guess than it is to be on the board making decisions.  However, as I watch our current board go through the budgeting and planning process, I cannot help but think about what the priorities should be.

What I would hope is that we would keep as much of the budget in the schools and the classrooms as we possibly can.  I do not like the idea of increasing teacher loads (having teachers teach more classes).  I would much rather see some of our assistant principals teach a class.  It used to be the case that some assistant principals also had some teaching duties but this is no longer the case.  I also wonder if any our administrative staff (some of which were promoted out of the teaching ranks) could be reassigned to the schools.   I think it is entirely possible that some of these folks might even be more effective  if they worked closer to our students and with our faculty. 

Now, I know that there has been an increase in administrative (paperwork) demands over the last 35 years and I know our student demographics have changed.  I know that we are doing a better job of serving special needs children (which is mandated by the Federal government).  However, do not be misled, our school enrollment today in Forsyth County is almost the same as what it was in 1970.  Our staff size has approximately doubled.  Overall, we do not seem to be doing a better job of educating our youth.  Somehow, when we look as these numbers we need to figure out how to be more efficient.  In a large part, I think it ultimately boils down to having good teachers in the classroom, having an administration which gives them the resources they need and the freedom to do their job. 

As it stands now, our school board is charged with setting policy but relies heavily on the administrative staff of the schools to provide the policy alternatives to consider.  There are some good reasons for this but I would like to see more ideas presented to the staff rather than relying on the staff to generate all the ideas. I would not expect the administrative staff to suggest ways to fundamentally reassign and reorganize the administration.  That may or may not be what is needed but it certainly needs to be an option on the table.

I don't have a vote on the board (yet) and I have not had time (yet) to fully research some of these ideas, but I can promise that, if elected, I will be willing to consider all options; I will do some of my own research; I will be available to listen to ideas from the community.  (Speaking of which CHANGE has some good ideas regarding education.)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Why I am running for School Board

(This is the same note I posted on my Facebook fan page a while back but I thought it would make a good first posting here too.)

I care deeply about our youth and about their education.  I have been involved with our educational system in one way or another for much of my adult life, including six years recently as a full-time member of the mathematics faculty at Forsyth Tech, where I taught both recent graduates of our high schools and many dual-enrollment students who were high school students taking college classes.  My two step-sons are recent graduates from public schools.  I have volunteered as an adviser for youth groups at church and as a summer camp counselor frequently for all of my adult life.  I firmly believe that we all, as a society, can make no more important investment than in the education of our youth.

It takes more than caring to make a good school board member.   It also takes analytical skill, common sense (or not so common sense), willingness to make a time commitment, ability to work in committee structures, willingness to listen, and the ability to resist the urge to micromanage, along with others.  I have these qualities and abilities and the desire to serve.

I think it is important that our school board be diverse and representative of our community and that it always keep the interests of our kids first.  We should not ever lose sight of what is most important - education!

So, I am running for election to the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education in District 2.   I emphasize the word "for" because I am not running against any particular group of candidates.   There are currently ten candidates running in district 2 for ultimately four seats to be elected in November.   I hope to be one of those four and ask for your vote if you live in my district and your support regardless.   Please feel free to send me email, comment here, post on the wall of my Facebook fan page, or call me to let me know what concerns you or what ideas you have.