PA-PAC Questionnaire for Durham Public School
Board of Education 2014
Candidate Name: __Natalie Beyer___________________________________
Address: ___2206 Hayfield Drive Durham NC 27705__________________________
1. Why do you want to serve on the Durham Public School Board of Education? What is the
role of a board member?
I have served on the Durham Board of Education since 2010. An innovative, diverse, excellent
school district is an essential foundation for our democracy, citizenry and our community. I want
to continue working to support our students, teachers, families and taxpayers as we come
together to live, work and learn in Durham.
Elected school board members work together to govern and set policy for our school district. It
is critical to listen to community concerns, follow state and national laws, advocate for best
practices and be thoughtful, fair and responsive.
2. The board will be involved in the hiring of a new superintendent. What should the search
process look like? What qualities should the successful candidate possess?
As the Board hires a new Superintendent, community involvement is critical. The Board needs
to hear from teachers, parents, principals, DPS staff, community leaders and all interested
citizens. It is critical to select a search firm with experience in conducting searches that involve
extensive, thorough community engagement so that the community helps develop a candidate
profile. The district currently has an excellent leadership team which enables the search to be
deliberate and thoughtful.
Durham’s Superintendent should have a background in education and a commitment to
Durham. Qualities such as integrity, humility, collaboration are critical along with a willingness to
advocate for policies and laws that value and respect students and teachers.
3. How should teachers and administrators be evaluated? Are the current state standards
My favorite model for teacher evaluation is the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) Program
from Montgomery County, Maryland. The program provides intensive assistance and review for
all novice teachers and experienced teachers rated below standard. Full-time “Consulting
Teachers” provide peer coaching, professional development , counseling and support. The
current teacher evaluation tool is effective and was developed with extensive input from
educators and school principals. It reflects six standards; 1. teachers demonstrate leadership, 2.
teachers develop a respectful environment for a diverse population of students, 3. teachers
know the content they teach, 4. teachers facilitate learning for their students, 5. teachers reflect
on their practice, and 6. contribute to academic success. The first five standards are valid and
require a lot of input from principals and thoughtful reflection by teachers to improve their
Standard 6 is based on data derived from standardized test data run through a complex,
proprietary model developed by SAS. It simply is not valid to use standardized test data to
evaluate teachers. Thoughtful evaluation using standards 1-5 coupled with targeted professional
development and mentoring are better investments. I would like Durham to pilot a PAR model.
4. How should students be assessed? What role should standardized tests play in evaluating
As much as possible, students should be assessed by quizzes, essays, projects and other
assignments developed by their own teachers. The district needs to maximize the amount of
instructional time available to challenge and engage all students. Students need to develop
higher-order critical thinking skills and creativity which can not be assessed by standardized
It simply is not valid to use standardized test data to evaluate teachers. Thoughtful evaluation
like a PAR model coupled with targeted professional development and mentoring are smarter
5. In spite of the introduction of magnet schools, it appears that Durham Public Schools have
become increasingly segregated by socioeconomic status and race. What are your thoughts on
Diversity and equity are Durham values. I am very concerned that Durham Public Schools has
25 of 55 schools that are extremely racially isolated (less than 10% white and asian students).
Much of this is due to housing patterns and reflects a need to increase neighborhood diversity,
ensure affordable housing throughout our community and encourage every family in Durham to
consider DPS. Magnet schools are one tool for increasing integration and DPS recently
established STEM programs at Lowe’s Grove, Neal and Southern and a Language Academy at
Holt as one strategy to increase diversity. In addition, the district transformed Chewning into an
innovative 6-12 year-round School for Creative Studies and the SCS student body is fully
The most cost-effective and convenient schools are neighborhood schools with enriched
curriculum and shorter bus routes. The Board directed administrators to establish instructional
themes at every traditional DPS middle school. We need to continue to ensure all schools offer
a fully-enriched curriculum as well as services for AIG, EC and LEP students.
6. Does DPS need to make changes to its school suspension policy? If so, what changes
would you work for as a Board Member?
The DPS Code of Student Conduct was revised in 2011 following an extensive effort to overhaul
and improve North Carolina’s school discipline laws. This nonpartisan effort prohibits “zero
tolerance” policies and was led by the Duke Children’s Law Clinic. Our new policy requires
administrators to consider aggravating and mitigating factors when determining the
consequences for violations of the Code of Conduct. The consequences for Level IV and Level
V infractions are set by state legislation and any changes to those would require revision of
The DPS Board has recently asked our administrative team to contract with an external
researcher to analyze our district’s suspension data, especially regarding more minor
infractions, any racial or socio-economic disparities with specific attention to EC students. This
analysis coupled with community input will inform future policy and procedure revisions. DPS
Policy 4303 “Suspension and Expulsion” states that “the Board encourages the use of in-school
alternatives as preferable to out of school suspension.” DPS probably needs more in-school
alternatives and programs such as Second Chance Academy and Lakeview. The district is also
conducting a gap analysis to identify additional areas for increased training, additional student
supports and the potential for new programs such as restorative justice.
7. What is your opinion about the Charter School movement?
North Carolina’s current charter school legislation and policies are flawed. In most states charter
schools are authorized by local boards of education and thus charter schools operate more like
magnet schools within a local school district. If North Carolina legislation allowed this, the
Durham Board of Education could work to ensure that charter schools in Durham were fair and
open to all by providing transportation, free meals and eliminating any other barriers to
admission. This would benefit taxpayers because there would be locally elected governance,
accountability, better planning, decreased duplication of services and more support for low-
performing charter schools. The current law creates a competitive environment rather than a
collaborative one and underperforming charter schools have been insufficiently monitored and
rarely closed. I advocate for strengthening North Carolina’s charter school laws and procedures
and I oppose out-of-state, for-profit management companies and for-profit virtual charter
8. What is your opinion about school vouchers?
Families can choose private schools but taxpayer funds should not be used for school vouchers
or “opportunity scholarships”. Numerous studies have shown than public school students
consistently outperform private school students (when adjusted for poverty) and our first, best
investment is a strong, equitable, fairly funded system of public schools for all students. Across
our state and nation, voters support the separation of church and state and overwhelmingly
oppose school vouchers.
9. As a board member how would you lead the decisions addressing the needs of the students
who are at risk for low achievement and dropping out?
In Durham some students need additional supports and a board commitment to equity means
making decisions to direct additional resources to those students. As a community, we need to
come together to invest in more early childhood education, parenting resources, mental health
supports, interpretation services, literacy training and other critical resources. We are blessed to
live in a community that understands the importance of these investments and we need to
continuously evaluate all DPS programs to make sure we are efficient and effective with limited
10. Why do you think that parents choose to take their children out of the public schools in
Durham or don’t choose them at all? How would you address this issue?
Schools are often blamed for community issues. The majority of students (over 66%) in Durham
Public Schools qualify for free or reduced meals, which is one indicator of child poverty within
our community. Mayor Bell is correct in focusing on poverty and income inequity as issues that
we need to come together and address in Durham. Students who struggle need more support.
We need the Durham community to understand that our community is a beloved community that
comes together to support all of our children.
We have wonderful schools in Durham and all parents could pledge to not disparage any school
in our community. We have safe, amazing schools and we need to spread the word about the
innovative, incredible people and programs within Durham Public Schools. Our schools provide
an enriched curriculum for all students in Durham, including arts, foreign language, health,
technology, college preparatory and vocational education. We should constantly seek
opportunities to enhance creativity, internships, mentoring, service learning, the arts and other
engaging ideas. School should be fun.
11. If you could do three things to improve Durham Public Schools, what would they be?
1. Empower a rapid task-force to listen to teachers and develop recommendations to improve
2. Empower SIT teams and school leadership to assume more autonomy for school based
programs, professional development, testing and budgeting.
3. Encourage all Durham families to choose Durham Public Schools for their children and
become engaged with our community.
12. Please describe your educational background, noting any degrees and honors you have
earned. (skip if resume included)
I am a native of Durham and attended Pearsontown Elementary School, Little River Elementary
School, Carrington Junior High and Northern High School. I graduated from the North Carolina
School of Science and Mathematics. In college I pursued a double major in English and
Behavioral Science and graduated from Rice University (Houston, Texas) with a B.A. in 1990.
After working at Duke University, I attended graduate school at the University of North Carolina
at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health and earned a Master of Healthcare Administration
(M.H.A.) with double concentrations in Financial Management and International Health in 1993.
13. Do you have children? Where do they or did they attend school?
I have three children who have all attended Durham Public Schools since Kindergarten. My
oldest son attended Riverside before enrolling at the North Carolina School of Science and
Mathematics (currently a Senior), my second son is a Junior at Durham School of the Arts and
my daughter is an eighth grader at Lakewood Montessori Middle School.
14. Please describe your adult employment history (skip if resume included)
Includes volunteer work
Financial Analyst, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, TN
School and PTA volunteer, Club Boulevard & WG Pearson Middle
Welcome to Kindergarten, Durham Public Schools
Volunteer Children’s Minister, Cole Mill Road Church of Christ
Board Member, Eastern Regional Leadership Training for Christ
Advisory Board, Durham Children’s Choir
Advisory Board, Durham Family Theatre
Durham School Board, 2010 - Present
Legislative Liaison, Durham School Board, 2010 - Present
Administrative Services Committee Chair, 2011 - Present
Founding Board Member, Parents Across America
Founding Board Member, Public Schools First NC
Board Member, Project Graduation
Assistant, Smith & Associates, Durham, NC