With 2020 just around the corner and primaries just over two months away, the need for a candidate to try and control the narrative on hot-button issues is important.
Even if that candidate is not really telling you the whole story.
It happened last week in the Winston-Salem Journal on December 21st (on the 20th if you look online) compliments of Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. Among the ten times that he used the word “choice” and the other three times he used “choose,” Forest forgot that he actually “chose” to not really tell you the entire truth.
He told you his electioneering narrative. Forest stated,
“If you get all your information about North Carolina education from op-eds or social media, you would think that my goal is to destroy public education. In fact, that is exactly what was published in a recent guest column in this newspaper.
These outlandish claims are only a distraction and meant to push their pro-system agenda.”
That guest column? Mine from December 14th. It was written in response to Forest’s letter to teachers earlier in December.
If Forest wants to try to discredit a teacher who has taught in this state longer than Forest had been in office and is a parent of two students in public schools when Forest himself is not, then he can try.
But what he really did was add more unfounded claims to an educational platform that still does not fully support pubic schools.
“To get a few things on the record, I have always believed:
- We shouldn’t place a cap on how much our best teachers can earn.
- Teachers should be rewarded for earning Master’s degrees in their subject area.
- Most policy decisions, like class size, should be decided at the local level.
- Every school should have a great principal.
- Students should take fewer standardized tests.
- Every school should have trade professionals teaching practical skills.
- The money should always follow the student to the school and be block granted directly to the principal, not the bureaucracy.”
Yet, while Forest has been in office and a member of the State Board of Education, not only have salary step increases been almost eliminated for veteran teachers, NC has a salary schedule that literally caps a teacher’s salary at below $55K a year. Add to that no more longevity pay or advanced degree salary boosts which have been eliminated since he has been in office.
Did Forest ever fight to have graduate degree pay reinstated? No. But he makes an electioneering claim that he supports it for some.
Did Forest ever stand up against the class-size mandate issued by the state that was so glaringly unfunded? No. He has been complaining about how much the state “funds” schools.
He wants a great principal in each school? Who doesn’t? But for years while Forest was in office, NC ranked last in the country in principal pay and the current principal pay plan is built on bonuses and test scores. But when has bonus pay ever worked in public education? It hasn’t.
Forest wants to reduce testing? But has he advocated for changing the school performance grading system that still weighs achievement on standardized tests much more than growth? No.
Not many trade professionals are going to classrooms with the noncompetitive salaries for teachers in this state.
And money should follow the student? In a state that still has a per-pupil expenditure less than 2008’s rate when adjusted for inflation?
Forest claimed that my op-ed was nothing more than “outlandish claims” meant to be “only a distraction” in order to “push a pro-system agenda.” Yet, not one time did he ever debunk one of my claims. Not one time did he ever disprove what I asserted in my op-ed.
What he did prove was that he read what a veteran teacher had to say about what is really happening in our public schools and it portrayed a much different reality than the picture Forest is trying to paint for voters.
And his vision for public education in North Carolina is totally aligned with someone who knows absolutely nothing about public education.