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for Facebook “Group Cumberland County Parents and Teachers to Better Our Schools”

Hi, my name is Julissa Jumper. A few weeks ago, Michelle Hallas made a post asking who was running for school board. I am one of those candidates. I posted on here my intentions last year and filed my candidacy in early July. With this post I hope to put out information on my positions and make them as transparent as possible so you can get a good sense of whether you feel I would be a good fit for CC BOE.

I am a strong advocate for parental rights. It is my belief that parents should be the sole determiner of what’s best for their children. There are always other sources to supply guidance for parents, but parents get to be the final and definitive voice. You should know that if I am elected, I will vote that way on any decisions being put to the board. So, for instance, if the issue of mandatory masking, vaccines or any other topic comes before the board, I will always vote for parents’ right to decide for their children.

Along the same lines, I spoke to a couple who had recently enrolled their child in Hoke County schools. Those parents were not allowed into the school, they had to fill our paperwork and hand it over thru a partition, they could not enter the school to see their child’s classroom or teachers. If that is the policy in CC schools, these irrational restrictions must stop. Those parents were alarmed when a few weeks later the Uvalde shooting happened. They realized, if such a terrible thing happened at their school, they would have no way of knowing where their child was, no way to help if law enforcement would not, and could not be comfortable that their child was safe. That is wrong. Parents must be allowed access to their child’s school, should be able to enter the school during school hours, see the classrooms, see what conditions their child faces. There is nothing that should be hidden.

The school board also must find a way to be more responsive to parents. The restrictions put in place by COVID fear must end. BOE meetings must be opened up again, venues must not be restricted, parents must not be muzzled, masked, or forced to stand outside, in the cold, watched over by Sherrif Deputies, only to be let in to speak, alone. Those draconian measures do much to intimidate parents and alienate our public from our elected officials. If our elected officials are afraid to face the public, they should resign. Our district should also not be a member of any national group that labels parents as domestic terrorists or that encourages our federal agencies to investigate parents. I will demand our district publish its own statement of support for parents and resign from any national group that intimidates parents. I’m still thinking on what further steps we can implement to engage parents and the public and welcome any ideas this group has to expand that.

I am a strong advocate for a solid, basic education. I believe children should master (not BARELY meet the standards of), reading, math and writing. This is the primary purpose of schooling, and we have lost that focus. Despite the huge amount of money we have poured into our education budget, our schools have not improved in these standards. Unless we recapture those skills, our children will be ill-prepared to become the future leaders of our community, nor will they be able to make our community competitive economically and culturally.

I vehemently oppose racially and politically divisive and oversexualized curricula. They have no place in schools.

I support the comprehensive teaching of ALL our country’s history. Good, bad and the ugly.

I believe in personal accountability. Children should be taught discipline and respect. I believe it starts at home and I believe school staff should also expect it at the schoolhouse.

Now, to touch on an issue prominently playing out in our nation’s schools and to further illuminate my positions, I vehemently disagree with an LGBTQ agenda in our schools. I do not think any sexualized agenda should be taught or emphasized in school. I do not think that our children should be enlisted as culture warriors and I do not think the culture wars belong in the schools. I do not agree that drag queen shows belong in schools. I do not think such literature should be in our school libraries. These are issues for parents to address in their own homes, not issues or values that schools should impose on families. Because I believe in parental rights I don’t condemn parents who desire that teaching for their children, nor do I seek to limit it outside of the schools. However, those events or activities do not belong in the schools, they are cultural issues best left to parents to determine for their families. With students’ extremely low levels of proficiency in math and reading, I think any available resources (time and energy) should be funneled into strengthening students’ performance in these areas instead of focusing on non-academic issues.

After having conversations with the teachers who were not too afraid to chat with me (usually anonymously, for fear of reprisal,) it’s clear our schools need to provide better support for our teachers. They are the front line; they are the ones who determine our students’ success. I believe funding for administrative hires has siphoned funds that could have been allocated to teacher salaries and needs. Our teachers’ salaries have not increased as much as administrative salaries and positions, and those increases have done nothing to improve the performance of our schools. Our teachers often must take on additional duties for which they are not adequately compensated, and many are frustrated enough to leave. I believe the school district, while focusing on recruiting, needs to fine tune its focus on retention of teachers. Why would we willingly lose our most experienced? We need a deep dive into the budget to find better ways to improve teacher pay over administrative overhead.

Additionally, why would any teacher be afraid to speak out publicly? If our teachers are intimidated enough to self-censor, that is evidence of something wrong. Perhaps there is pressure on teachers to “toe the party line” or be ostracized, a too-common occurrence in today’s world. I will look for ways to open up discussion with teachers, even if it means holding separate sessions away from the presence of staff.

Right now, I want to address the issue of candidates actively having children in the school district. I’ve seen and heard people who think the criteria for serving on the BOE is that your children must be enrolled in public schools. That view is illogical and designed to limit public participation. Our schools belong to us all; our community depends on our schools to grow economically and successfully. We all pay taxes to support our schools and we all should be able to contribute.

Still, I will respond to the petty and insulting comments from others directed at me personally, that since I homeschool my children, I am only running for a seat on the BOE because of my ego.

My son is a product of Cumberland County schools. He attended Van Story Elementary, Max Abbott and graduated from Terry Sanford. These are well respected schools in our system, and we selected where we would buy our home based on the school district. Our schools failed to teach him mastery of the basic skills– reading, writing and math, and we spent almost all of our savings at that time, through tutors and outside experts like The Huntington Learning Center, to get him to read at grade level and graduate with a mastery that would prepare him to succeed in life. We decided we didn’t want those same school results, nor could we afford that again with our two daughters. We educate our daughters at home. Amazingly, they test out each year in the top 1% of students nationally. That is not because they are gifted geniuses, it is because they can focus on the necessary skills, have learned the discipline of self-study and have learned to love education. It is that simple.

Now, let me ask you, how many students enrolled in Cumberland County schools test in the top 1% of students nationally? If not, why not, when it is obvious that it can be done.

I believe that many more parents would choose to homeschool their children or send them to private or charter schools if they could, but unfortunately, many cannot because of work requirements or the expense. The failure of our schools over the last two years has highlighted to many parents just what our schools are teaching and how far from the basics they have fallen. And, for me, if I could choose homeschooling or private schooling for my children rather than to send them to failing public schools, and did not, that would be abuse. I understand that not everyone has that choice, that they must work and cannot be at home to school their children and that is why I am running, to give them a better school system and improve their youngsters’ future.

I would also point out that as an investor in our community, with financial and social roots deeply intertwined, it is in my best interest, and all of our best interests, to make our schools a real success. We need to build a community that industry and companies want to invest in, we want our schools to help drive growth, we want opportunities so that our children stay here in our community, building families, instead of moving off to other places, and we want our children to become our future leaders.

We could also ask how many of our current board members have children in the public school system? Are they disqualified from running? How many have education experience? And, the big question, if these board members have been serving for many years and many terms and our schools have not improved, why do we keep sending them back? There appears to be much “group think” going on within this board and it is in desperate need of a more diverse range of perspectives and viewpoints.

Are these all not good reasons for anyone in our community to be involved with our public schools? In my opinion, anyone who would limit all of us participating is small minded.

Lastly, just so you know more about me, here’s some personal info: I am Dominican, and a naturalized US citizen. I grew up in NYC and came to NC after enlisting in the Army after earning my master’s degree from NYU. I left the Army in 2003. I’m married to a retired soldier and we are farmers, real estate brokers, and investors. My son (Darnell) and his wife are active duty military and I have two school-aged daughters, Grace and Faith. I hold memberships in the Frederick Douglas Foundation, Concerned Veterans of America and am, along with another 5 acquaintances, starting a new group, Latinos In Action.

I hope this post gives you a pretty good idea of what you can expect if I am elected to the board. If you agree with me on these issues, I ask you to show up and vote for me in November. Social media can so often be problematic because it’s hard to discern a person’s tone and body language and often leads to misunderstandings. I’m not interested in arguing with anybody here and this is not the best forum for deeper discussions. If you’d like to speak with me in person, I welcome that. Please contact me and we’ll set a time to talk. I can and will defend my convictions and will respect you for doing the same. I am scheduled to speak on Thursday, August 18 at 6:30 at the Fayetteville Women’s Connection dinner meeting. That would be a great place to come see me and feel me out. You may have questions that I won’t have answers to but if you know what values I unwaveringly filter everything through, you may be able to get some sense of how I will tackle the issue.

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