Lt. Governor Debate Shows Stark Difference In Education Positions, Knowledge

If you missed the debate between Lt. Governor Dan Forest and his challenger, Linda Coleman, EducationNC captured video of quite a bit of it.

The North Carolina Channel on YouTube has posted the full debate video.

I listened to the debate online and was really kind of horrified at most of what Coleman said about Education in North Carolina. There is a big difference between her and Lt. Governor Forest on this subject. Education is a major role played by the Lt. Governor position.

Coleman repeated the falsehood that education funding dropped by a billion dollars under the Republicans.  Coleman also said that Republicans’ education spending has not maintained its weight when adjusting for inflation. Both statements are incorrect.

The education budget has increased and yes, that’s still adjusting for inflation.
Bob Luebke at Civitas explained:

For the period 2006 to 2011 – when Democrats were in control of the General Assembly and the budget process – funding for K-12 education actually declined by $540 million in inflation-adjusted dollars, or 13 percent. Yes, in the early years of the period, the budget increased about $1 billion, when Democrat lawmakers mistakenly thought a surge in tax receipts would last forever. However, after the Great Recession hit, Democrats cut $1.54 billion from the education budget to address funding shortfalls.

Since taking office in 2011-12, Republicans have actually increased the education budget by $1.1 billion in inflation-adjusted dollars. Under GOP leadership, K-12 appropriations have actually increased in five of the last six budgets.

There was real waffling on school choice. Almost in the same breath, Coleman said she supports school choice, then immediately turned around and put limitations on that choice, saying that the ‘taxpayer’s shouldn’t have to pay for it’.

Parents are taxpayers too, Ms. Coleman. If they want to send out kid to a different school option that suits that child’s educational needs, who are you (or anyone else) to tell them where they can and can’t send them?

Our public schools have been flat-lining for decades but no one wants to pull the plug.
Ms. Coleman made it clear last night that her answer is for more government interference and to throw more money at public education.  In other words, maintain the status quo.

There was no real question on Common Core and Coleman’s website doesn’t have a page where voters can see where she stands on the issues. The NCAE is pro-Common Core and they are backing her, so it would be a likely bet she’s in favor of the standards.

Some other things Ms. Coleman got wrong:

1. Wasteful spending and administrative bloat are two huge factors why our schools are ‘running out of money’. They get plenty, but the local districts/boards are poor stewards of that money. Just look at the mess in Wake county.

2. Charters ARE public schools and their achievement levels and diversity levels leave their traditional counterparts in the dust. If anything, one should be complaining about the gap in funding of charter schools versus their traditional counterparts.

3. Opportunity Scholarships have their own pot of funds, they don’t ‘steal’ from traditional school funds. They are also really, really popular and they are designed to help low-income children .

4. Charter enrollment is up. Private school enrollment is up. Parents are fed up with the traditional system and are voting with their feet. Homeschooling is up 34% in the last 4 years for two big reasons —  Common Core and the ever-increasing infusion of teaching political correctness/social justice over actual academics.

5. North Carolina’s testing is a mess, proof of concept or not. The EOG’s in math and English are Common Core aligned.  Teachers across the state agree — we have too much testing. So what is DPI doing? Just revamping them and likely adding more due to the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Also, those graduation rates are hollow when we have a grade level proficiency rate of 56.3% and career and college readiness rate of 46.7%.

6. Coleman is under the impression charter schools have no rules, accountability or regulations. Clearly, she had not visited the Charter school website.
The Lt. Governor responded on that one right on the mark saying,  “You know what happens when a public charter school fails in North Carolina? We can shut it down. You know what happens with a traditional public school fails in North Carolina? We throw more money at it.”

On the topic of Virtual charter schools, Coleman is right, they are a bit of a mess. However, they are very new ventures which haven’t had a lot of time to work out issues. It’s also worth noting the Department of Public Instruction is in the driver’s seat on this one. If the Virtual online charters are running off the road, look at who is driving.

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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