What was reported in a recent edition of the Independent Tribune out of Cabarrus County is the epitome of a politician trying to buy the teacher vote under the guise of truly being pro-public education.
From October 9th,
On Monday afternoon, teachers at Royal Oaks Elementary and Northwest Cabarrus Middle School were asked to stay after school for a quick staff meeting.
When they walked into their media centers to see some special guests— including Senator Paul Newton— they knew something was up.
Newton has teamed up with the Cabarrus County Education Foundation and Staples to present certified classroom teachers at all of the schools in the Cabarrus County Schools district with a $100 Staples gift card to use for school supplies.
The foundation kicked the giveaways off with these two schools and plans to visit all of the others to give out gift cards in the next few weeks.
“One of the things we know is that teachers end up spending a lot of their own money for classroom supplies. One of the things we kind of look at and try to figure out how best to support you guys with that,” Cabarrus County Schools Superintendent Dr. Chris Lowder told the Royal Oaks teachers after the surprise was revealed. “This past summer the North Carolina legislature and the senate tried to take up that issue too and deal with ways they may help with that area. We just want to say thank you to him (Newton) and the North Carolina legislature and senate and what they are trying to do to help our teachers” (https://www.independenttribune.com/news/teachers-surprised-with-staples-gift-cards-more-on-the-way/article_614371d4-cbd7-11e8-9bab-cb7f6bde9760.html).
So, a state politician in an election year has used a provision from a budget passed through a nuclear option and funneled tax payer money to give “money” to teachers less than a month from election day.
Senator Newton’s past voting record is nothing more than rubber-stamping what his party’s leadership has championed. One just needs to look at his voting record: https://www.ncleg.net/gascripts/voteHistory/MemberVoteHistory.pl?sSession=2017&sChamber=S&nUserID=990.
That voting record is not one that has championed public education, but Newton’s rhetoric in his 2016 says that he prioritizes public education while he supports “school choice.”
From Nov 1, 2016’s copy of the Independent Tribune quoting Newton’s stance on public schools:
Better Schools . Our public schools should be the #1 choice for teachers all across America. I see no reason we cannot become the best performing and most desired educational choice in the nation. We must restore respect in the classroom. I place the highest value on our teachers. They are having an enormous impact on our next generation. In addition, we must continue to offer choice. Private, Charter and Home schools all belong in the education mix. Parents should be able to choose the educational path that is best for their children (https://www.independenttribune.com/news/n-c-senate-district-robert-brown-and-paul-newton/article_f46a996e-a079-11e6-b174-fbe50531be97.html).
This recent action of giving teachers “supply money” is reminiscent of another lawmaker’s actions this past spring.
Rep. Jeff Tarte (R-Meck) wrote in a provision in the recent budget that would actually have had the state fund a DonorsChoose.org initiative to help buy supplies for schools in his district.
Not other districts. His district.
He literally was trying to get the state to fund schools in his district in a hotly-contested election cycle through a non-profit that takes a portion of the funds for overhead.
But DonorsChoose.org does not actually condone this type of “fundraising.” Why? Because it is electioneering – pure and simple.
Just like what Sen. Newton is doing here.
With all that has happened to the public school system under those whose policies that Sen. Newton rubber-stamps, giving teachers money for supplies after the school year has started in an area not decimated by the recent hurricane in a state that still lags in per-pupil expenditures on the national scale with statewide taxpayer money is nothing more than pure electioneering.
But if I was in his district and he wanted to “buy my vote” he could have pushed to fully fund schools statewide for all students and all teachers and all citizens.
And not make it a publicity stunt.