Sanford, N.C. — In an attempt to appeal for more education funding in the state budget, Lee County Schools stepped over the line, a lawmaker said Monday.
Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee, said school district officials had his 8-year-old daughter's third-grade class at Tramway Elementary School write letters to elected officials, including him, to protest cuts in the proposed $19.7 billion state budget.
"I was extremely disappointed, but I tried not to show that in front of my daughter," Stone said. "I don't know that at any time we should use our third-grade students as lobbyists."
The teacher outlined what students should include in the letter, he said, noting his daughter mentioned the loss of two teaching assistants, field trips and science experiments and more difficulty in learning multiplication and reading comprehension.
She ended her letter, "Please put the budget higher dad."
"As I read through this (letter), anger completely shot through me, and I was trying to hold myself together," he said. "(It's unconscionable) to know any education system would use a daughter against her father."
Superintendent Jeff Moss said letters were also sent from students in other local schools to their representatives and to Gov. Beverly Perdue. Letters weren't written to "Mike Stone, the father" but to "Mike Stone, the representative," he said.
"If you're not interested in receiving letters from people in your district, don't run for public office," Moss said.
He said he doesn't see a problem with a writing exercise that has students supporting public education.
Stone said he fears his daughter's classmates will blame her if the teaching assistants lose their jobs. He said he hasn't yet expressed his concerns to Moss or the Tramway Elementary principal.
"The disappointing side is we have a superintendent that lets this happen and go on and not willfully try to stop it," he said.