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Etheridge's focus remains on schools

Posted April 11, 2012
Updated April 12, 2012

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— Public education has been Bob Etheridge's overriding concern throughout his years in office, from Lillington to Washington, D.C., and he plans to carry that focus to the Governor's Mansion in Raleigh.

Etheridge faces Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Orange County Rep. Bill Faison, Harnett County physician Dr. Bruce Blackmon, Matthews college student Gary Dunn and retired federal government auditor Gardenia Henley for the Democratic nomination in the May 8 primary.

Etheridge spent four years as a Harnett County commissioner and 10 years in the state House before being elected North Carolina's education superintendent in 1988.

"During the eight years I was superintendent, we gained 33 points (on the SAT average) while the nation on average only gained six," he said Tuesday.

Elected to Congress in 1996, he continued to focus on education issues.

"We were willing to build prisons, but we weren't willing to build schools," he said.

Etheridge lost his congressional seat in 2010 in a hard-fought campaign to Republican Renee Ellmers. A video posted to YouTube that summer showed Etheridge grabbing an unidentified man's arm on a Washington sidewalk and brushing away a camera, asking "Who are you?" repeatedly after the man asked if Etheridge supported President Barack Obama's agenda.

Although Etheridge later apologized for how he acted and conservative operatives took responsibility for the video, many political observers believe it cost him the race.

Still, he now says, such political tricks take a back seat to critical issues facing North Carolina, and he says he is best-suited to address them.

Bob Etheridge Public education is Etheridge's calling card

"No one is better qualified, has better leadership skills, has done more at every level of government (and) the private sector, where I spent 19 years as a businessman," he said.

Not surprisingly, education is a main focus of Etheridge's campaign.

"I think the worst dirty trick has been played on the people in this state on our students in cutting opportunities for them to have a good education," he said.

He supports the 0.75-cent increase to the state sales tax rate that Gov. Beverly Perdue has lobbied for in recent months to restore education spending that lawmakers cut last year.

"You cannot have quality education on the cheap," he said.

Meanwhile, he opposes the proposed constitutional amendment on the primary ballot that would define marriage in North Carolina as being between one man and one woman.

"Our constitution is about enabling people with rights, not taking them away. I would hope we wouldn't support that," he said.

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  • Plenty Coups Apr 12, 2012

    ncpilot-"You are not the victim of the legislature, you are the victim of the ridculously bloated state education bureaucracy"

    Really? In the absence of proof, your statement just sounds like another excuse from someone who doesn't want to fund education. If it's so "bloated", why didn't the legislature just cut it? They had the power to. I'll include a budget link so you can see for yourself. If you got rid of every last principal, central office administrator, and asst. principal, it wouldn't put much of a dent in the education budget of 7 billion. (eliminating every central office admin. would save around 100 million, a little over 1% of the budget)Our race to the bottom continues!

    http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/resources/data/highlights/2011highlights.pdf

  • ncpilot2 Apr 12, 2012

    Dear "eelyram216," I support most teachers in our schools, however, you have improperly misplaced frustration when budgets are cut. You are not the victim of the legislature, you are the victim of the ridculously bloated state education bureaucracy and the local schools who refuse to cut the insanely high salaries of school administrators and their unnecessary staff. Plus, the NCEA is constantly lobbying for more money to expand the education system well beyond its intent, creating an industry instead of educating our children.

  • Plenty Coups Apr 12, 2012

    "There was an independent study done several years ago which indicated the following"

    Please provide the link.

  • Plenty Coups Apr 12, 2012

    Alert-"If you beleive the budget numbers, I've got a bridge...."

    In other words, evidence has no meaning in your world. Anyone can make up conspiracy theories and throw out accusations without ever offering proof.

  • Alert5 Apr 12, 2012

    "Obama actually said today the job environment was getting better. 360,000 new unemployment sign-ups......and Obama wants people to believe things are getting better....and many who support him actually believe it's true...because Obama said it was."

    LEMMINGS" following each other over the cliff

  • whatusay Apr 12, 2012

    Obama actually said today the job environment was getting better. 360,000 new unemployment sign-ups......and Obama wants people to believe things are getting better....and many who support him actually believe it's true...because Obama said it was.

  • whatusay Apr 12, 2012

    cwood.... unruly kids will not get any better until our government stops pay welfare for women who have kids with no father in the home...simple. They don't see a need for a education and they are there because gov't says they must be there. They will grow up in a welfare environment, no social skills, and depend on crime when they either drop out or are kicked out.

  • Alert5 Apr 12, 2012

    If you beleive the budget numbers, I've got a bridge......

    There was an independent study done several years ago which indicated the following:

    1) Too many duplicate programs.

    2) Many unfilled positions in adminsitration but left in the budget.

    3) Large amount of money could be saved by a different authority purchasing school materials/resources.

    Just a few.

  • Plenty Coups Apr 12, 2012

    boney-"eelyram216 - please save us the whinning!"

    Yes, I'm sure you support your local schools by volunteering so that you can help keep taxes low. After all, we wouldn't want you "whinning" about your tax bill now would we.

    "It's NOT for the children nor has it EVER been!!"

    Educational spending near the bottom of the nation is certainly "not for the children". Better to keep your $50 in your pocket and make the low paid teachers pay for their own student's supplies, right? Would love to see any actual evidence from you to support your anti-education stance but that would probably be too much. By the way, it's "whining" not "whinning".

  • Plenty Coups Apr 12, 2012

    JustaName-"Over 60% of the tax payer funds goes to education in this state, but all it has created is government bloat. More administrators than teachers"

    These points are all wrong. Where is your proof? In truth, central administration is 1.42% of the budget. (107 million)(page 7)

    Your ridiculous statement about education being 60% of the budget when it is actually 37% is incomprehensible. Where did you get that from? Check out page 3 of the budget synopsis. Notice how it keeps declining?

    http://www.ncpublicschools.org/docs/fbs/resources/data/highlights/2011highlights.pdf

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