Dr. Foust Interview March 16, 2022
Dr. Foust responds to StarNews 9/21/2021
Dr. Foust:I made a personal commitment to turning around our low-performing schools, all of which have strengths and opportunities for improvement. The Board of Education and I are committed to ensuring equitable access to great teachers, resources, and challenging coursework to help all students prepare for college and career paths, especially disadvantaged students. Addressing equity is our first step forward. Equal is not enough. We need to make sure students receive what they need to succeed. We must address equity at every level to improve educational outcomes.
2. Why are you opposed to redistricting the school system to improve overcrowding and the racial diversity within each school?
Dr. Foust: NHCS just went through a year-long, comprehensive redistricting process two years ago, right before the pandemic hit and before I was hired to be the new superintendent. The challenge of segregation in schools stemming from segregation in neighborhoods has existed in New Hanover County, and across the state, for decades. Redistricting is one strategy to address it, but not the single solution to this complex problem.
We also recognize that school and community identity are important to our parents and students and we will continue to work to ensure that all children in New Hanover County receive an excellent education regardless of where they live.
3. Is New Hanover County Schools a racially segregated school district?
Dr. Foust: The student body in each of our schools reflects the make-up of the communities they serve.
4. Do you believe the school board accurately represents all voices and communities in New Hanover County?
Dr. Foust: I know the Board of Education members and I welcome community input and are committed to meeting the needs of all communities. Board members were elected to develop policies that strengthen education in all New Hanover County schools. School board members and I are accessible to the public and accountable for school performance and the equitable allocation of resources to schools in all communities.
5. Does it concern you that the underperforming schools in the district also happen to have the highest minority populations?
Dr. Foust: Yes, I am committed to wrapping the appropriate levels of support around schools that serve low-income minority students from disadvantaged communities. We can achieve equity by ensuring that all students receive the education and resources they need to succeed regardless of what school they attend, where they live, and their social-economic situation.
6. Is the school district promoting segregation by using neighborhood schools?
Dr. Foust: No, the school district is committed to strengthening parental involvement and community support for its students and schools. Schools reflect the communities they serve, and all children deserve an excellent education regardless of where they live. The make-up of communities is a topic for countywide conversation and includes more than schools.
7. Do you believe the district administration supports Black schools and white schools equally?
Dr. Foust: Equality and equity have different meanings. I recognize that each student has different circumstances and needs. I want to allocate the resources and opportunities needed for all children to succeed, which requires different and equitable levels of support to provide personalized learning as often as possible with technology, tutoring, and other support. The Board has been very supportive of the Administration’s efforts to provide an equitable education.
8. Do you believe white students and minority students are getting an equal level of education in New Hanover County given the stark differences in DPI performance grades, incoming student readiness, rates of poverty, chronic absenteeism, etc. between white schools and predominantly minority schools?
Dr. Foust: I believe we can provide an excellent education for all students in every one of our schools. Still, we must provide equitable support for our neediest students to achieve equally high graduation rates and college-and career-ready outcomes.