Buncombe County Board of Education member Lisa Carpenter Baldwin received the James Knox Polk award for leadership in public office from the John Locke Foundation. She is the first school board member in North Carolina to be so honored.
Baldwin has established a reputation as an independent voice since her election in 2010. Although often on the short end of 6-1 votes, she continues to press for more fiscal responsibility, transparency and parental involvement in Buncombe’s schools.
She was given the Polk award at the organization’s 22nd annual dinner, held January 21, 2012 in Raleigh. In accepting, she challenged all audience members to get involved with their own local schools. “Ask questions, write letters to the editor. Support the school board members who are fighting to focus dollars on the classroom,” Baldwin urged.
She closed by saying, “Your questions won’t change things immediately. But your continued involvement and pressure will change things eventually.”
The Polk award is named after America’s eleventh president, a native North Carolinian. John Hood, John Locke Foundation president, introduced Baldwin by saying,“Polk’s work ethic and commitment to principle are clearly evident in the career of our first honoree tonight, Lisa Carpenter Baldwin.” He then went on to praise her for supporting parental choice and competition in education. “She campaigned on the premise of supporting the education of all Buncombe County students and will collaborate with private, charter schools, home schools, those with special needs, and accelerated learners. Every child counts.’ Yes, and every public official who stands up for principle counts, too. As North Carolina continues to struggle with an inefficient education system that produces an insufficient return on our tax dollars, we need leaders who believe in fundamental reform – and are willing to fight for it. That’s Lisa Baldwin, recipient of the James Knox Polk Award for Leadership in Public Office.”
The John Locke Foundation is a North Carolina-based non-profit research institute. Much of its work is devoted to examinations and recommendations about public education policy.