GOP education candidates differ on DPI cuts, federal funding

Posted July 12, 2012

— The two Republicans in a runoff for the state superintendent of public instruction nomination both call themselves conservative, but they have different philosophies for running North Carolina's education system.

Richard Alexander, who has been an educator for nearly two decades, would make deeper cuts to the Department of Public Instruction.

"I think we can reduce it, in the first two years, by 40 to 60 percent. That gives us $150 million to $200 million a year that can be redistributed down to the local level," said Alexander, who won 24 percent of the vote in the May primary.

John Tedesco, a Wake County School Board member who led the primary field with 28 percent of the vote, said he would try to make DPI more efficient.

"We can be leaner, but we need to be strong," Tedesco said.

He said he also would push for a merit pay system for teachers, an idea that Alexander opposes.

"Shouldn't they be rewarded for the extra hard work they do?" Tedesco said.

"I do not believe in performance-based pay right now because there is no fair way to do it," Alexander said.

Tedesco vs. Alexander Superintendent runoff pits educator, school board member

Federal funding accounts for about 16 percent of education spending in North Carolina, but Alexander said he would no longer accept it, if elected.

"The federal government will say, 'We are going to pay for it for two years, but you have to have it for six,'" he said.

Tedesco said the federal grants North Carolina receives belong to the state and are needed in the schools.

"I have to make sure we have our dollars to educate our children. I just have to make sure we are not tied to their strings in the process," he said.

Both men said they support raising teacher pay, but neither wants to raise taxes to generate more money for education. They also both want to expand the number of charter schools in North Carolina and give more control to local school boards.

They said they want stronger vocational education programs, where businesses work with schools to produce job-ready graduates.

Another area where the disagree is the future of the position they seek.

Alexander wants to make the state superintendent a gubernatorial appointment – if voters approve the move – while Tedesco said it should remain a separate elected post.

"The governor is ultimately responsible for education," Alexander said.

"(An elected superintendent makes) that position then accountable to the citizens (and) able to stand up without worry of being fired by a bureaucrat," Tedesco said.

The winner of the July 17 runoff will face Democratic incumbent June Atkinson in November.


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • jason19 Jul 13, 2012

    I agree with the sentiment that we need to hire more at the local level. However, I would say that needs to include more support personnel, too. Everything cannot fall on teachers or even the principals. We visited a school in Easten North Carolina recently, and one teacher told us that she needs to reorganize her classroom sometimes for a lesson but that there is nobody around anymore to help her. Anybody who could help had been laid off in previous years or was tied up doing other work because of layoffs. It's things like that we do not even think about until they are no longer available to us.

  • FREE-ESCO Jul 13, 2012

    Seeing is believing y'all.

    We need a REVOLUTION and take back OUR SCHOOLS!








    Watch this NBC [RAW] Complete, unedited interview! --->


  • Gnathostomata Jul 13, 2012

    DPI has gotten too big for its britches! Too many "wanna be important people" rather than really looking out for education in NC have infiltrated the building. We had a great system with a few minor flaws, and now we have chaos; everything falls on the teacher and students in the classroom, but there are many factions trying to tell the teacher how to teach, as if one plan will reach all students with or without parental support or student participation! Make everyone accountable, then get out of the way.

  • JustAName Jul 13, 2012

    "Vote June after July in November." - bigal02282

    Because when even when the worst Governor in NC history has no faith in you, you should keep your job.

  • bigal02282 Jul 13, 2012

    Vote June after July in November.

  • ConservativeVoter Jul 12, 2012

    DPI is a waste.

    Eliminate it completely.