On September 10th in a socially distanced manner, both Catherine Truitt and Jen Mangrum participated in an open forum answering questions about their candidacies for the office of state’s highest public school office.
That quote above by Truitt is one that references her history as a senior advisor for Pat McCrory. And making that claim was supposed to be a positive.
But just examine the record that Truitt had as that senior advisor to the former former governor – particularly claims that she made in the past.
Here are some of the statements she made in 2016 in an op-ed for the News & Observer.
About “fully funding schools:”
“K-12 education funding has increased by 18 percent under McCrory. In fact, 57 cents of every taxpayer dollar spent goes to fund education. That means that 57 percent of our $22.3 billion General Fund budget is spent on education, compared with a national average of 46 percent. Funding for textbooks and digital resources has tripled under this administration, and we are leading the nation in school connectivity.”
About teacher pay and “recruiting” people to teach:
“Teacher pay in North Carolina is growing faster than in any other state in the country under McCrory’s leadership. Since 2013, North Carolina has invested more than $1 billion in teacher raises, and the budget signed by McCrory increases average teacher pay to more than $50,000 for the first time in state history.”
In an op-ed for EdNC.org that same year, she made these statements:
About what Read to Achieve’s goal:
“He (McCory) also signed legislation that will dramatically increase access to summer reading camps to ensure every student achieves the needed literacy by third grade.”
About the Opportunity Grants:
“In 2014, the governor increased choice for low income parents by enacting the Opportunity Scholarship that provides financial assistance for alternative schooling for students who are not succeeding in a traditional school setting.”
Funding, teacher pay, Read to Achieve, and vouchers are all hot-button topics, but they are not the trophies that Truitt made them out to be.
And she should be called out for it.
Truitt has mentioned in the past that there are three sources of financing for NC public education – federal, state, and local. And she has said that 57% of that coming from the state is far higher percentage than the national average.
But that’s because it is supposed to be. The state constitution declares it.
The Public School Forum of North Carolina’s publication the 2014 Local School Finance Study provides a great history of the state’s practice in funding public schooling which is rooted in the proclamation that all children in the state ages 6-21 are guaranteed a good public education.
However, I do want to point out that before we had a Republican governor (McCrory) and a Republican-controlled legislature, the state spent an even higher percentage on public education because THAT IS WHAT THE STATE CONSTITUTION DECLARED.
Her assertions about teacher pay are interesting as well. The operative word here is “average.” Beginning teachers saw an average pay hike of over ten percent, yet the more years a teacher had, the less of a “raise” was given. It was not an even distribution. In fact, some veterans saw a reduction in annual pay because much of the “raise” was funded with what used to be longevity pay.
Oh, and under McCrory, graduate degree pay bumps were eliminated for new teachers.
Truitt talked about Read to Achieve as a success back in 2016. But is this a success?
Truitt argued that the Opportunity Grants could help alleviate high tuition costs, but if the grants were targeted for lower income students, then how can those families even think about allotting their already limited funds for a private education, especially when NC has refused to expand Medicaid services for many who would qualify to obtain an Opportunity Grant? That’s not really giving families choices.
If you scroll down on the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority website for the Opportunity Scholarship and click on the link called “Current List of Nonpublic Schools”, you will find a list of schools participating in the grant program. Notice a vast majority of those schools have religious affiliations. Ironically, many of those schools are already supported by churches that do not have to pay taxes. And now those entities are getting more taxpayer money to support curricula and processes that are not even regulated like those of public schools?
If Truitt became the state super for PUBLIC schools, is she going to keep supporting private schools?
If Truitt thinks that it is necessary for funds to be given to people to get them a good education, then why not invest that very money in the very public schools the state super would be constitutionally supposed to support to help those very students succeed in their public schools?
Yep, that “direct experience working with the governor’s office” doesn’t sound so great. So why brag about it?