GOP school board candidates agree on the big issues

akenney@newsobserver.comSeptember 10, 2013 

— The two candidates competing to represent western Wake County on the Wake County Board of Education took questions for 90 minutes Monday evening but never turned their guns on one another or uttered the words “my opponent” before a crowd of about 70.

Instead, Bill Fletcher and Nancy Caggia, both Republicans, touted agreeable educational goals, such as academic rigor, improved literacy and a careful approach to discipline.

The League of Women Voters forum, held at Covenant Christian Church, seemed to reflect both similar philosophies and a cooling of rhetoric in District 9, once represented by the headline-grabbing Debra Goldman.

Fletcher, a recent appointee, previously served 12 years on the school board. He described the current state of the schools as a “crisis” and repeatedly spotlighted improved literacy as a solution.

“The focus has to be on the relevance of the curriculum that we’re teaching,” Fletcher said. “Help young people make the connection between what we’re asking them to learn … with what the career options are.”

Caggia, a first-time candidate and longtime schools volunteer, pointed more often to technology-enhanced curricula as an answer, though she joined Fletcher in calls for bipartisan talks and education that engages.

“We need to start figuring out how we’re going to do a classroom without walls,” she said, saying schools should be adaptable enough to handle both “acceleration and remediation.”

The most controversial issues caused little heat: Fletcher and Caggia alike support implementation of the Common Core State Standards Curriculum and the proposed $810 million in school bonds, they said.

So far, the biggest differences between the candidates have emerged in their résumés and fundraising reports. In Fletcher’s latest campaign finance report, he reported raising $11,125 with $7,895 on hand at the end of August. According to Caggia’s latest campaign finance report, she reported raising $5,243 with $2,700 on hand.

And while Fletcher has a long history on the board, Caggia claims 14 straight years of volunteer work and observation across all levels of local education. She also has the Wake County GOP endorsement

Kenney: 919-460-2608Twitter: @KenneyNC

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