Town Hall Or Campaign Event?

Update: Welcome, Carolina Plott Hound Readers!

On Wednesday evening at Cox Mills High School, there was a town hall meeting held. Or was it a Democrat campaign event? Hard to tell since it opened with a campaign speech yet closed with questions for state superintendent Atkinson. The event was hosted by Assistant Principal, Aimy Steele.


There was nothing on the Department of Public Instruction’s website about this event. Cox Mills High School had it on their calendar, but I found no announcement on their site.  Notice to the public was given a day in advance in a tiny little blurb that only mentions Dr. Atkinson and calls it a “town hall”. That one day notice was in the local Cabarrus new website, Independent Tribune. However, the Cabarrus County Democratic Women – and Earle Schecter –  knew about it bright and early on April 10th:

Well of course they did, because Cabarrus County Democrat and Cox Mills Assistant Principal Aimy Steele probably told them. She likes sharing information like at the Smart Party training: “Cabarrus County Democrat Aimy Steele noted that the best part of the
training was “the wonderful amount of information that was shared with us.

I’ll be reaching out to Ms. Steele as to when she helped set up this “town hall” and how the notice of it was disseminated.

In any event, this is NC district 82 territory and Rep. Larry Pittman was not notified nor invited to this event in his district.  I contacted Rep. Pittman and he informed me this was the second time in as many weeks an event like this was set up and that he was not notified of this most recent one at Cox Mills, also that was scheduled on a night when he Pastors at his church, making it hard for him to attend.

So What Went On?

Citizens who were present sent me an account of what went on.  Present were Assistant Principal Aimy Steele, Dr. June Atkinson, Dr. Barry Shepherd (Cabarrus Superintendent), Earle Schecter and Judge Donna Johnson. Citizens tell me around 60 to 65 people were there. I was also told News 14 was there and taped Schecter’s speech, but I have yet to locate it on any News 14 site.

From what was described,  Earle Schecter and Cabarrus Superintendent Dr. Barry Shepherd were seated at the table with Dr. Atkinson at the start of the event.  Earle Schecter was introduced at a “Friend of Education” by Aimy Steele as a retired probation officer who moved from NYC to Concord in 2010, and is 2nd Vice Chair of the Cabarrus Democrat Party and candidate for NC House District 82.

Schecter then made what can be characterized as a campaign speech as it included bashing his absent opponent and the county commissioners. Schecter spoke about “electing people who appreciate public education”. He said our county commissioners “do not appreciate public education”. He said Rep. Larry Pittman, of House District 82, has “publicly stated he does not appreciate public education”. Schecter said it is probably too late to do anything about our commissioners but that we should ‘do something in two years’.

So who is this guy?  Schecter, as Steele stated, is a 2010 NYC transplant with no political experience and who has a real face for radio.  Gee, a NY Democrat – goodie for us! He doesn’t even have a campaign site. All you need to know about him is one picture:

Are you ready for Earle? Yikes.

Back to more of what went on at the “Friends of Education” Campaign Event Town Hall…

Judge Donna Johnson, district court judge for the 19A Judicial District, a Democrat and a candidate for re-election, spoke briefly about the truancy cases she handles and the importance of education. She clearly knew what is and isn’t considered political speech and stayed in line with that. Her opponent is Ben Franklin.

Dr. Barry Shepherd, Cabarrus Superintendent spoke. Both he and Schecter moved to the bleachers after speaking Note that Dr. Shepherd’s calendar does not list this ‘town hall’ event.

Dr. Atkinson spoke for about 15 minutes. Atkinson complained that teacher pay is low. “Teachers are the key.” We lose too many teachers in the early years. They are ‘leaving for better opportunity’.  Well, we’re seeing them leave but it’s likely there are more reasons than just ‘better opportunity’.  Some quotes from Atkinson’s speech that should raise eyebrows from those well-informed about Common Core and are actively fighting it:

“The standards are deeper, but not as wide.”

“The standards are not perfect, but are better than what we had.”

“The 8th commandment tells us not to bear false witness and there is much false witness going on about the Common Core in this state.”

That last one made me chuckle – we’ve heard this before in various forms. Shorter: Ya’ll opposing the Core are liars!  Atkinson also said, “The General Assembly is the one entity that determines teacher salary. Elect people for whom that is a priority.” Yes the NCGA sets the salary, but the districts set the supplement. Sounds like some false witness there, June.

After that speech, Atkinson then took questions.  It was estimated about 8 were answered from written questions and 2-3 were snuck in by attendees raising their hands. Ms. Steele had given out note cards before the meeting began. Attendees wrote questions and handed them back.  Before Atkinson began taking the questions, Steele took the note cards, separated them into several piles, and then used one specific pile to give to Atkinson. Maybe it was sorting out duplicates. What happened next was a slew of questions on Common Core. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that in another article.

Once the questions were over, Schecter and Atkinson worked the room.


Reaction From Rep. Pittman

Since Representative Pittman seemingly was neither informed nor invited to what can be construed as an orchestrated campaign event disguised as an education town hall, I reached out for comment. Rep. Pittman confirmed to me he was not informed of this meeting.This omission would seem odd since he has been a very active member of the legislature on education and if this town hall’s main purpose were indeed about education.

I submit this event was more about beating on Republicans, in particular Rep. Pittman, and less about informing the public about education. Just look at the lack of publicity and also, why there and why with some political candidates and not others? It should be noted that even the primary challenger to Rep. Pittman, a woman named Leigh Brown, was also not there.

Why else would Rep. Pittman not be invited? Oh, perhaps his membership on the Common Core LRC has something to do with that — and his calling Atkinson on the carpet over her lack of transparency and rude response to the Lt. Governor’s formal questions on the Common Core.  Rep. Pittman has been a staunch advocate for parents concerned about the education of their children in NC 82, has put forth the facts on Common Core for all to see and it probably drives CCSSO President elect Atkinson nuts. So, gee, no axe to grind there right?

Remember Schecter’s comment that Pittman “publicly stated he does not appreciate public education”? Rep. Pittman has fired back, here is part of his response:

“Mr. Schecter is sadly mistaken.  I do not oppose public education.  I oppose a one-size-fits-all, top down approach to education, run by a central bureaucracy.  I stand for the rights of parents and teachers at the local level to provide real education without a globalist federal agenda.  I support the rights of parents to obtain a good education for their children through other means, such as homeschooling, private schools, or charter schools, without government interference or imposition.  I believe that having these other options as competition should only make the public schools improve, which is the usual effect of introducing real competition into any area of endeavor.”


Stay tuned. This isn’t the last article on this “town hall”.

About A.P. Dillon

A.P. Dillon is a reporter currently writing at The North State Journal. She resides in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_ Tips:
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1 Response to Town Hall Or Campaign Event?

  1. Pingback: Atkinson Accuses Common Core Opposition Of “Bearing False Witness” | Lady Liberty 1885

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