Candidates for governor, NC superintendent discuss education issues
Democratic and Republican candidates for governor and superintendent of public instruction meet in a forum sponsored by the North Carolina Association of School Administrators.
days away. I want to emphasize that our association N C a a s a. Is hosting these candidates today because it is important for our public education leaders. I'm gonna for the governor. E can't get back to just my candidates stand before our school leaders go to the polls in November to elect those important offices. Please remember that NC s A is a nonpartisan organization that works with elected leaders of all parties on priorities for public education. We do not have a political action committee and do not make candidate endorsements. But do you think it is important for school leaders and other North Carolina citizens? Toe have information on where the major candidates stand on public education? Let's now move into the first segment of our forum in which the two candidates for governor governor will be speaking individually on some key education topics and their own priorities. We had NCs a are very honored to be providing the first forum off this general election season in which both candidates for governor will be speaking live to an audience at the same event. We are especially appreciative that the audience includes many of our states local superintendents, principals and other important school leaders in R. N. C. S A membership. And we appreciate the support from WRL News to make a live stream of this forum accessible to other North Carolina citizens. First, it is my honor and my privilege to introduce the honorable Roy Cooper, the current governor of North Carolina and the Democratic nominee who is seeking re election. A North Carolina native, an attorney from Nash County, he has an extensive career in public service, including previous terms in the North Carolina House and Senate, followed by four terms as our state's attorney general since 2001 before his election as governor in 2016. Governor Cooper. We appreciate you for being with us today, and it is now my honor, um, toe let you speak to our audience. Thank you, Catherine. I'm grateful for our public school administrators and educators, and I'm so appreciative of our public school teachers. My mom was a teacher. I'm the product of our public schools, and I understand how hard educators work to create an opportunity and give Children a foundation for successful future. When I became governor, our schools were facing riel challenges. We weren't where we needed to be with teacher pay and too many of our best educators leaving the state or even the profession itself. I've worked to get us moving in the right direction, and we've made progress as governor. I pushed this Legislature to raised teacher pay, expand pre K and re established the Teaching Fellows program. But it's not nearly enough. I've drawn a line in the sand when it comes to our teachers. When the Legislature hasn't done enough, I'm not going to quit until we make meaningful progress. Right now, our educators air facing unparalleled challenges and this new unique school year that's currently underway. We can't keep leaving our teachers behind, but expecting them to lead the way for our students, especially during a pandemic. We trust our teachers to mold our students. Let's put our money where our trust is. One of the best things we can do for teacher morale is to make sure that they know that their stake cares about them and to speak positively about their good work. I'll keep fighting to give our educators pay raises once they deserve. We need to invest and make sure that we can attract and retain the very best I support raising pay for public school teachers who, at least the national average and reinstating masters pay and other advanced degree pay plan, allows teachers up to 30 years of service to earn MAWR for each year of service. I've also prepared proposed restoring extra pay for teachers who hold a master degree in the subject that they're teaching and then eliminate this requirement that we have that teachers pay their own substitutes when they have to take a personal lead day. I'm pushing to raise the per pupil funding for our public schools. This will help us fund MAWR teacher assistance counselors and other school support staff. It's also going to be critical when it comes to recruiting teachers. We're all painfully aware that our teacher pipeline is in trouble is going to get worse with this pandemic, we need to do more than ever let people know that teaching is an honorable profession. It's a calling in life that you could make a decent living and have a rewarding experience being a teacher in North Carolina public schools. As governor, I'm recruiting teachers now. When I visited classrooms before the pandemic. I usually ask who wants to be a teacher when you grow up? And I would talk about how important it is to be a teacher, that we need better pay, better benefits, and we need to treat our teachers better. We need to make it a priority right now to get good people into this profession. Another way to do it is to substantially expand the teaching Fellows program for all of our state campuses. It's appalling that are HBC use are not yet a part of the Restructure Teaching Fellows program. This is one of the best deals that I can think of to recruit teachers say to them, Hey, we're gonna pay for your college education if you give us a least four years teaching in our public schools. When we first started teaching fellow scholarships back when I was in the state Legislature, I was one on one of the very first interview teams, and I was stunned to see that we were getting the top students across the state were willing to step up and be teachers. We have to use this tool of scholarships, and we also have to provide incentives for getting people into the teaching profession. Inadequate funding. It's four schools to cut back on critical positions like school nurses, counselors, psychologists and social workers. That's one of the reasons why I devoted a substantial amount of money in this pandemic of cares act funding for the schools to use for these positions. Because we know that Children need access to mental health specialists and other wraparound services, we have to keep in mind the importance of building the foundation for future learning, health and well being during early childhood. So we have to invest in early childhood education. This year I announced one of the state's largest infusions of new dollars in our early childhood system. 56 million, which will go toward early childhood education and health outcomes for at risk Children. We need to continue to expand these opportunities. Please take a look at our early childhood action plan to see where we're going and how we're gonna measure ourselves. I'm also excited about the recommendations of my tax force on access to a sound basic education, and I look forward to pushing forward the Leandro lawsuit funding. We also got to expand Medicaid. We have to close this health care coverage gap. Expanding Medicaid would extend coverage to more than half a million people, including working families veterans, And it does it without additional tax dollars. If we can expand Medicaid, like 39 other states have done, we can cover world working North Carolinians, and this will be good for our Children, especially when it will provide health insurance for many of their early childhood teachers. Expanding Medicaid would also bring tens of thousands of jobs to North Carolina, reduce the cost of private health insurance and keep our rural hospitals. We're going to keep pushing for Medicaid expansion. My opponent, the lieutenant governor, keeps saying No, I will say I try to urge people to know what's going on in our public schools and to talk about the amazing work our educators air doing for our students. A lot of people who really don't know what's happening in our public schools complain about it from afar. But there are so many positive things taking place, and if we can lift up our public schools and show the good things that are happening, we can bring MAWR positive results. We all know that this pandemic has been extraordinarily hard on teachers, students and parents. As we fight through it, we have to invest in remote learning and make sure that we have high speed Internet access to all parts of our state. Make sure that Children have devices and make sure that families can afford to access the Internet once they haven't. We're making progress, but we have to do a lot more. In my compromise budget, I call for school construction bond to invest in repairs and construction on aging schools across the state without cutting resources from other vital programs. My bond proposal also provided for $250 million for high speed Internet access. The Legislature's budget this time did not do enough enough for our schools and offered no guarantee that school construction would be completed. When you think about budgets, you gotta think about priorities my budgets favor of public education over tax breaks for the corporations and the very wealthiest among us. We have to do better. We also need to do a better job of assessing students to help them and to help them help their teachers as well. I signed a bill in the law that reduced the number of state exams that students are required to take. This eliminated over 20 mandated state exams, which were used to evaluate teacher performance. A reasonable and tailored assessment system that gives teachers and parents accurate information without sacrificing accountability should help Children learn without over test. This pandemic has been hard, and I know we all want our schools to get back to normal. As governor, I'm using science and data to make the hard decisions about getting our Children back to in person instruction as quickly and its safety safely as possible. But it was stunning. You hear my opponent lieutenant governor, say last week that his governor he would fill up every classroom immediately with no safety guidelines and no mask requirement. Not only is that wrong, it's dangerous and ignores the science and advice of public health officials. It ignores the CDC. It ignores the Academy of Pediatric and the White House coronavirus Task force. We all want our schools to get back to normal, but we can't wish this pandemic away. We have to put safety over politics, and we have to doom or for public education, not less. But those who don't take precautions and don't wear mass are often the same people who can under our progress. They're holding back the timeline of getting Children safely in school because they're encouraging the spread of this virus. They're letting their friends and neighbors and family members down. We owe it to each other. We owe each other a lot more than that, and we should expect a lot more from our leaders. Special. Thankfully, most North Carolinians are being responsible in doing what they need to do. But my opponent, lieutenant Governor, has been holding indoor in person campaign events without mass or social distancing for months now, he's routinely put people in harm's way, and it's spreading misinformation instead of what's doing what's best for the health and safety of North Carolinians. He's even said Mass don't work. He took it to a whole new level last week when he again denied science and promised that his governor he would lift the mass mandate. I think Lieutenant Governor Forest really has one goal for our public schools, starve them for funding and then use those tax dollars to help rich people send their kids to private schools using Val trolls that's right. Not only does he support vouchers, but he also wants to take the income limits. Off school vouchers were wrong. They hurt our public schools. I think he's satisfied with teacher pay and per pupil funding, and he will rubber stamp anything that the legislative leadership tells them to do or say. We need a governor who's gonna push this Legislature and hold them accountable for public education. I'm committed to education and all that it can do for our workforce and bring about my mission for North Carolina. And that's the state where people are better educated, where they're healthier, where they have more money in their pockets and they have opportunities to live lives of purpose and abundance. That's what I want. And strong public education can help fulfill that mission. I appreciate all of the work you do, and I appreciate everyone listening this afternoon, and I would appreciate your support in my re election for governor of North Carolina. Thanks very much. Thank you, Governor Cooper, for sharing your time and your perspectives with us today and for your leadership in these challenging times. Next up, it is my pleasure to introduce the Republican nominee for governor, the honorable Dan Forest, who is the current lieutenant governor of North Carolina. A Charlotte native, he was a successful architect and businessman for more than 20 years before moving into public service. He was elected lieutenant governor in 2012 and is now completing his second four year term, where he presides over the state Senate and serves on the state's Board of Education and Board of community colleges. Lieutenant Governor Forest Thank you for being with us today, and it is now my honor to ask you to address our audience. Well, thank you very much for the opportunity Thio address you guys today and to talk about education. That certainly sounded like a political speech from my opponent, and I would just say, full of untruths across the board and character assassination, which is really unfortunate from the top leader of our state that he would actually choose to do that. And many of the things he said are completely untrue. So, you know, obviously I spent a lot of time on education. I love the topic of education and I like Thio, think about excellent education, for for all of our students across the board. I mean, what does what does excellent education look like for student? Obviously, everybody here knows that I am a proponent of of school choice. But I'm a proponent of school choice because I believe that parents really do want what is best for their students. And sometimes ah, one size fits all approach to education doesn't work for everybody. We know that 80% orm or of our parents and students choose traditional public schools. Some choose charter public, some choose home school or private school, but I think that's the way it should be. I think that the competition in that raises the bar for everybody and everybody gets toe learn from one another, and we can then talk about best practices. Um, you know, I was really under the impression from the invite that this was gonna be Q and a driven and talk about the priorities here. But the governor was very clear that he was espousing a lot of things that the General Assembly worked on and, quite frankly, a lot of things that I worked on and taking credit for things like teacher raises. When he actually vetoed every single teacher pay, raise budget every single one he vetoed, and he said no to it. He was claiming that he wanted more money for teachers, and yet he was willing to give them nothing in an increase, including the last budget, where there was another 4% increase plus a bonus. And the governor was very clear to say, No. Zero is good because I want more. I don't understand the logic of that. We have given teachers compensation increases over the last seven years through the General Assembly, and I'm proud of that. We've done a great job, about 20% increase, that we're getting to the place where, uh, the teachers that have served the longest have opportunities to get bigger increases as well. And we'll continue to do that. Nobody's ever said that that's going to stop along the way. And so I think we've done a great job. We found ourselves to be number one in the increase in spending in Southeast in the Southeast, number one and teacher pay increases in the Southeast. We're continuing to make great progress. Eso for Dan Forest, Uh, in a new administration, the top priorities would certainly be focused on things like safety and security in the classroom, safety, insecurity for students and safety and security for the teachers and the staff. Aziz. Well, we've seen that get out of hand and we've seen some real tragedy happen around the country. I believe we should have armed resource officers in all of our schools to protect our teachers and our students. It's very rare that any incidents happens in school anywhere in the country when you have that situation. So we need to make sure that we protect from the outside, but also from the inside. I don't think we should have any tolerant policy for bullying in schools, whether that's one student to another or student to teacher. I think that those situations need to be dealt with swiftly because our students and teachers both need to feel safe and secure in the classroom. Another top priority would be the return of character, education, morality, character, integrity, trust, respect and respect for authority on. And I believe that that's really important because we've we've seen that decay over the years and that's where you get threats to teachers and threats to staff and threat student to student and I just think that that's something that we need Thio respond to and return to in the classroom. Respect for human dignity would be another one. Eso We've seen a deterioration of that. I would like to focus on principle recruitment as I've traveled across North Carolina and visited schools from one end to the other. The one thing that I always notice in the schools that are considered excellent schools is they have excellent principle and excellent principals attract and retain excellent teachers. There's been surveys done across the country as to why teachers leave the profession, and the number one reason is because of a bad principle teacher relationship. They leave because of their leadership. So just as with anything else across the country, when it comes to on organization, a company, anything else, leadership really matters. And so leadership in the classroom matters we need to attract on retain great principles, and we need to train them well. We need to spend the resource is needed to train our principles to be excellent principals, because I really believe that they have the ability to hire excellent teachers and keep them in the long term. We need toe let our teachers teach. I mean, I think that this is, ah, basic concept. We need to remove the barriers to teaching all the regulations and mandates and data collection and all the stuff that's done in a classroom from from day to day. We need to remove all those bears, allow our teachers to do what they know how to do, and that is to teach in the classroom. I'm not knocking data collection. I think that is important. But there's a limit to that. When we spend so much time collecting data that we're not teaching kids on, we're not using that data effectively to make sure the kids were taught better, then all we're doing is collecting data. So, you know, and then any kind of useless mandate where a teacher is spending more time doing paperwork than they are teaching their kids. We need thio, eliminate those things we need. Thio continue to eliminate any kind of testing that is frivolous. I've worked with the General Assembly for years to continue to do that and we do and so removing any kind of teaching to the test types of mandates that we have out there and what people call high stakes testing. I really don't call them high stakes testing. That's just testing. And there's a place for testing. But we should finally in North Carolina make the move to competency based model. Allow those students who are have the ability to learn at a mawr quick pace to allow them to do that and allow those students who need to slow down and take more time, allow them to do that as well and and slow down and allow the teachers to spend time with them. So, uh, you know, we can move to the competency based model now. We have the technology to do that now, and we need Thio. Certainly make that happen in the classroom. I think we also should allow our teachers to be innovators in the classroom. I think that's one of the pluses of of the charter school movement is in the charter schools, the teachers. When I talk to a teacher that's moved from a traditional public to a charter public, the one thing that they always mentioned to me is they say I really feel free to teach and make mistakes. They don't feel like they're being judged for their mistakes or graded for the mistakes or that they're going to be held accountable at a level that's unfair because they're trying to do something innovative in the classroom. So allow the teachers, uh, to do that. And if you fail at something, pick him back up and say Thanks for for trying something that's a little bit different and, uh, making sure that we're always pushing the envelope. I think we should also, uh, have transparency across the board. In education, you know, the state spends billions of dollars in funding for education. It's our largest funding element out there for the entire state. We need to have transparency. We need to know where that money goes. We There is a question on this questionnaire for this, about funding for K 12 education. Even in the lander case, the judge was clear to say, We're not going to spend our way out of the challenges that we have for a sound basic education. But we do need to know where the money is going and when. People are doing things wisely and and they're having a good effects from the money they spend, we need to be able to duplicate that in other places, and we need to make sure that money is not being wasted in certain areas as well. Eso I really think that that transparency model is one that we need to push across the state? Um, we need to raise the bar for students as well. I think we need to have much higher expectations for our students. We need to, uh, say to them, You can achieve whatever you desire to achieve. If you work really hard at it, we don't need to lower the bar and education. We don't need Teoh a lower education standards so more students graduate graduation rates are generally meaningless. If you ended up not teaching kids anything and giving them AIDS for doing that, you could graduate 100% of your students and claimed victory. But we all know that's not the intent of what we wanna do. We want to raise the bar for students so that they can achieve huge things in the world around us, and I think they want that bar to be raised by think they want teachers in principles toe hold them accountable for excellence across the board, so raising the standards. I also think we need to spend time teaching relevant topics in education, making sure that if there are things there that we shouldn't teach anymore that we change and we move on, I'll give you a couple of quick examples. One is when we came to the realization that we really weren't across the board for all schools have had any kind of mandatory economics or financial literacy. Student loan debt is the number one form of debt in the country right now, over, uh, just, uh, massive amount of money. I want to say it's a trillion and a half dollars billion after I can't remember the number, but it's a lot of money. It's the biggest form of debt in the country. And so students needed to. They need to be able to understand how all the levers of the economy actually work in America. And so we implemented very quickly a financial literacy and economics course on raised the standard for that and made that mandatory for high school students. I think that's a good thing. I think all students should enter their life and their jobs with an understanding of, um, financial literacy and sound economics of how the levers of the economy actually work. Um, in American around the world. So we did that on We also recognized that there were about that. This is about three years ago that there were, um, thousands and thousands of jobs on the market. About 15,000 at the time for computer science. There's there were about 30,000 prior to the Corona economy hitting, but we realized that wow, there those air 15,000 jobs on the market in North Carolina That equated to it a billion about a billion and a half dollars in salary. And we weren't training our students effectively for computer science. So we jumped into action really quickly. We put together a task force to put together computer science standards for for the first time in North Carolina, and we did that in record time by bringing people from the education world around the table, with people from the professional world in the industry around the table to put together standards that met the needs for the jobs that were on the market. Today, sometimes we think about the jobs that are in the future, and sometimes we're training for things that are in the past. But we need to think about really what's there today, and so we have this ability to create these standards. We did that in record time. We rolled those out, and we're going to be teaching computer science in a real way in North Carolina for the first time in providing our students in North Carolina with real opportunities for jobs that are going to be, well, paying jobs for for the future as well. So we need to be nimble and efficient in North Carolina, with the way we create standards, with the way we recognize what's going on in industry and with the way we train our students and our teachers effectively to be able to teach and learn these things. So we need to kind of change the bar on how we do that as well. Um, I think we also need to intentionally engage with the business community out there. There are people all around us that have needs, and I believe our teachers would actually enjoy doing this, bringing MAWR professionals into the classroom, talking about the opportunities that actually exists, uh, in their own neighborhoods, sometimes I was visiting SAS not long ago, and actually this was for the computer science, um, task force. Were Assassin had a roundtable going on as we're coming up with those standards. And one of the young men who worked for SAS, he was African American, young man, he said, You know what he said, If I go back into my community where I grew up, nobody would even know that the job I do actually exist, much less know that they can achieve the opportunity to do this kind of job. Well, that's pretty sad, because that's right here in our community. And we have some awesome opportunities for our young people all over North Carolina that exist right in their communities. We need to make sure that our students know that they have the opportunity to get their hands on those things, and we can have apprenticeship programs where they can while they're in school. And while they're getting their high school doc diplomas and while they're getting their college degrees that they can actually work for, these companies sometimes get paid by these companies to do that, learn very valuable trades and skills or professions on. Then graduate with something like a great job at SAS in their hand or in their pocket. I mean, think those kinds of things we really need to be thinking about so that students don't go. I don't You know, students drop out of school because they don't know why Education, how education is relevant to them. And so we need to make sure that they know that education is relevant to them. Uh, just related to the coronavirus pandemic and the misinformation that the governor was just spreading about first about what I said. I never said allow every kid to get back in the classroom without masking without any restrictions that there was a press conference out there. You could go look it up. You could see my words exactly. I said I would lift the mask mandate on. I would as have many states around the country. Many states around the country do not have a mask mandate. They say you need to be responsible, as we would say to the school district's across North Carolina, be responsible. Do what is right for your students on your school. Administrators can make that decision of how you can best open up your schools in a healthy way and get kids back in the classroom. If the governor was serious about the health of students related to the classroom, he wouldn't just say, Well, we're gonna open up elementary schools next. He would say, We're gonna close down Private schools that are already meeting all across the state of North Carolina been meeting in person for nine weeks with no outbreaks and no health risks at all. They've already been doing it. If there was a health concern out there, the governor should shut them down. He shouldn't, uh, let them keep going. So I think that's, ah, those air things to consider. We can get our students back in the classroom in a healthy way. We know that, uh, North Carolina was not prepared to shut down school for a year. We're gonna have kids that are left behind for an entire year, and they're not gonna make it up. And you all know that you guys know that better than anybody else have. A student falls behind in North Carolina for a year. If they're a third grade student and they don't learn how to read in the third grade. We know the consequences of that as well, so we need to make sure we get our kids back in the classroom in a healthy way that should be left up to every every district out there on allow our teachers to get back in a healthy way as well. And if there's a teacher with help, true health risks and true health concerns, and that principle can deal with that teacher, they can continue to teach online. But allow those parents who want their kids back in the classroom that opportunity to do that, we can do that. Schools all over the country are doing this. They're open all over the United States, and our governor wants you to think that nobody else in the country is doing this. And this is some horrible thing to get kids in the classroom. It's not, in fact, child abuse, which you all know the statistic is down 50%. In America, child abuse is down 50%. Why? Because you because the teachers, because the people that pay attention to these things are not paying attention now because the kids are at home. Could you imagine being locked in the house with your abuser for a year. Uh, the teachers, the school nurses, the administrators, they know the questions to ask. They're the ones that give help to these kids, not to mention the Depression. The anxiety, not to mention the one out of four people young people under the age of 25 have seriously contemplated committing suicide during this pandemic. Not to mention the addiction to drugs and alcohol and pornography and screen addiction, not to mention the abuse and all the other things that are going on out there that the effects of this coronavirus on the backside are going to be worse than the coronavirus themselves. I firmly believe that, but nobody wants to mention that the governor doesn't mention all those things. He just blindly goes along and act like none of that stuff is happening and you know it. ISS, you know, in your classrooms how you deal with these kids and and how you help them out from these difficult situations. So we need to get our kids back in the class. You know how to do that safely and securely. That's what I said. That's what Phil Berger said, and that's what these other school leaders and parents who stood up there on that podium watching our doing, that press conference said as well, Governor knows that the media knows that. So go look for yourself for what people say and don't believe the political rhetoric that's going on out there. As for him, bringing in what I'm doing politically out there, there has not been one single case of coronavirus mentioned for any event that I've done anywhere. Eso there's no super spreader events going on or any of that kind of thing. That's just ludicrous on the governor knows that as well, and so does the media. But again, go look for yourself and find out what's going on. There s o getting back, Teoh. You know the other stuff that we need to dio I think that we need to as well continued the push for broadband connectivity. We've seen that now during the coronavirus shut down, we were not prepared in North Carolina for virtual learning. Uh, students, the poor students always lose out, and you know that it's the poor students who are impacted the most. They're the ones that don't have connectivity in their homes. or the ones that don't have devices in their hands, or the ones that don't always have parental and adult involvement in their life to help them navigate this situation of virtual learning. So we need an emergency plan for when we actually have a real emergency again. We need to implement it. We need to make sure that our students are prepared. Our teachers are prepared to teach that way in the tools, the technology, the content, the curriculum, the delivery mechanisms, the safety and security mechanisms are all in place. We can do that. We can do that in in record time. In North Carolina. We can make that happen. It's very difficult to do in the midst of a pandemic. Our teachers are doing the best they can. I hear from teachers saying Listen, I don't want to teach this way. I'm not equipped and prepared to teach this way. That's why we don't need to try to do this in the midst of a pandemic. We need toe come out of this and make sure that we do this well. I think this pandemic will be a catalyst for getting broadband connectivity in the last mile When I was running the first time for lieutenant governor, I made the claim. That said, I believe North Carolina could be the first state in the nation toe Have every single classroom connected the high speed broadband first state in the nation have every classroom connected to high speed broadband. I actually made that happen. I worked with the General Assembly where there was $20 million there for that. We got another 12 million from the General Assembly for that purpose. I went and worked with the FCC on multiple occasions. Uh, this was under the Obama administration. We gotta another $64 million to have $100 million a year going into broadband connectivity. In a couple years ago, we actually became the first state in the country. Have every classroom connected the high speed broadband? Many of you don't know that because the media didn't talk about it. Nobody talked about it, acted like it wasn't a big deal. It's a huge deal, and you all know it because you have that connective in your classroom. I helped lead the digital Learning plan in North Carolina, the best digital learning plan in the country happened right here in North Carolina, along with D. P I and and the Friday Institute and a lot of bright minds that worked on that to say, we have an order for how things happen in North Carolina, and we need to make sure that we, uh, move in that order. It used to be that we had computers stacked up in classrooms and they collected dust in the corner and teachers didn't have content to use. They didn't know what you know. They didn't have any connective itI to connect to the things they needed. So he said, Here is the order of things we need to make sure we have number one. We have connectivity in the classroom first. That's the That's the number one thing we've done that we need to make sure that we have content and delivery Mecham mechanisms for that content That was number two and make sure the teachers are are trained to use these tools in the classroom. That's number three that's been going on as well. On devices were number four and devices were getting close to being ubiquitous now and so we're going to continue that process of that learned digital learning plan. Other states for contacting us regularly to learn about our digital learning plan. I led that effort for the state again, something you will never know. But we can use all that same methodology that we use for the digital learning plan to make sure that our students have last mile connectivity as well. So we could make it a public private partnership, get our last mile connected all across North Carolina and be the first state in the nation. We are the second most rural state in America, by the way, by population. And we could be the first state in the nation to actually have our last mile connected, just like we did our classrooms connected. And I'll look forward Thio continuing to lead that effort as well. Um, I think we also need to implement MAWR technical education in the classroom. We're doing a good job in a lot of schools right now, bringing that back. But when students uh, want to know, you know what they need to do to succeed in the world today, all often ask students, especially in middle school age. I'll say, Hey, do any of you want to be a millionaire when you grow up. And if the kids were young, they all raise their hands and say Yes. And my response is you should go be a plumber because those fixtures in our world are aging out of about 60 years right now. And if you plumbers, on average hourly probably make more than lawyers to eso, we have enough lawyers in this world. Let's go get some plumbers and some mechanical and H v A C folks and and people like that that actually fix things with their hands because those were never going to go out of style. And there are students love to do that. There are students that love to work on cars, these air, high tech jobs. Now, these air, well paying jobs. We shouldn't shy away from that. So I think we need to re brand and expand those opportunities on. Then, just to wrap up here, we need to ensure that we are building working relationships with the legislator Legislature, the governor's office, the state Board of Education, d P i. School administrators. We need to have really close working relationships. We don't need to be in combative relationships we need to work together so that we're working across the board to do what's best for our students and put our students first. And finally, I think we need to celebrate our successes. There's a lot of great successes in North Carolina, across the board for education. Everything is not dire and bad, like some people want you to think, Let's take those successes and actually celebrate them and let the world know what we're doing in North Carolina. Let the world know what the good stuff is. Celebrate our great teachers celebrate our great principles on. Let's move forward for the sake of the students. Thank you, Lieutenant Governor Forest, for joining us today to share your perspectives and priorities for public education. Thank you. Also for your leadership and services are lieutenant governor way and all the work that you've done The State Board of Education certainly appreciated at this critical time in our state. Okay, we truly appreciate both candidates for taking the time to participate in this forum today and for the different perspectives perspectives that they have shared with our school leader audience and other North Carolina citizens. And as you think about their comments as you approach going to the ballot in November, it's really important. This is a very critical top leadership position in the state, and so thes candidates have given you a lot to think about today, and we're certainly appreciative that they have chosen this forum to share their public education perspectives. So we will move now to the next part of our forum this afternoon. The next segment of our forum will involve a debate between the Democratic and Republican nominees for state superintendent of public instruction. These candidates are both former teachers with a significant background in public education. The Democratic nominee is Doctor Jin Mangrum, a clinical associate professor in the School of Education at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. The Republican nominee is Katherine Truitt, the current chancellor of Western Governors University, North Carolina, and the former senior education adviser to Governor Pat McCrory. I am delighted and appreciative that both candidates have agreed to debate several key public school issues today as part of our forum. It also is now my honor to introduce the moderator for this debate. Dr Anthony Jackson, superintendent, Advanced County schools and the 2020 a Craig Phillips, North Carolina Superintendent of the year. Welcome, Dr Jackson. Welcome. Both candidates who are now, I hope gonna join us on screen and thank you, Dr Jackson, for your leadership and also for your leadership in serving as moderator for this part of N. C. S. A candidates forum. I wish you all good luck and this conversation over the next little bit. And thank you again. We look forward to hearing from you. Thank you, Catherine. And I would like to say on behalf of all of the superintendent's across the state, I wanna thank both of our candidates for your commitment to Children and your commitment. Uh, thio, uh, putting yourself out there to serve. That's not easy. These are consequential times in public education. And so your thoughts on all of these issues will be very important. Just so we will start with opening statements on based on our coin coin toss, we will hear first from Miss is true. It. And so we will give you three minutes for an opening statement followed by Dr Meg. Uh, Mr Up. Thank you so much, Dr Jackson. And thank you, Catherine, for that warm introduction, I would also like to thank in Casa for coordinating this event. I know that if we had the opportunity to be in person with one another that I would recognize a lot of friends and smiling faces. Many of you already know me. But for those of you who don't like to share some personal details that you might not be aware of of my parents and grand parents were teachers. My grandfather eventually became a superintendent in rural Ohio, and my father is still teaching music after 54 years in the profession. He is 75 years old and still growing still going strong, so it was only natural that I became a teacher as well. At 23 I married a Navy man and started out teaching high school English in a military community. Over the next 20 years, every time we moved, I had to adapt to a new environment. I taught in virtually every setting. There is high school, middle school, early college, urban, rural, public, private, diverse, non diverse. Not only did these experiences helped me become a master educator, but I witnessed firsthand the transformative power of education. My core beliefs are that every child has a natural god given human right to maximize their potential, and a good education remains the surest pathway to prosperity in this country. It turns out that we also have a constitutional mandate in North Carolina to provide a sound basic education to every child. Unfortunately, those here today know that we have a lot of work to dio in order to achieve this goal. But I want each of you to know that I am proud of you of your commitment to improving the lives of our school Children and our communities. If you entrust me with this office, you will have a partner who appreciates your sacrifices will be committed to working with you to identify the best solutions without regard to politics, to scale innovative solutions that work and to eliminate programs and mandates that don't make sense. My philosophy is that top down solutions don't work as well as bottom up solutions. You all know that local control is best because you know your students better than Raleigh. As you may know, I am currently the chancellor of WG You, North Carolina, a nonprofit 100% university, 100% online university, with the first online, and we are the first online university. Tohave, it's educator prep program. Approved by the State Board of Education, this institution is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and disruption disruptive educational institutions in the country. I'm proud to say that every other week, senior leadership but wg you meats and goes over student outcomes by program, line by line, analyzing outputs as well as inputs. I will take a similar approach as your superintendent are measures of success will be based on the outcomes we achieve rather than just the inputs we make together, we will ensure that all of our Children, regardless of zip code, have the opportunity to achieve their full potential. Thank you, Dr Mangrum, if you will. Thank you. Thank you, Dr Anthony Jackson. And congratulations on your success, Andi. Thank you. North Korean Association of School Administrators. I really appreciate this moment. So I'm a native North Carolinian born in Anzio County. I've spent every year I've taught in public schools in North Carolina and I feel like they're home to me. My father was an enlisted U. S Marine who served in World War Two, Korea and Vietnam. twice, and when he retired, my father got his G e. D a college degree and became 1/4 grade teacher. My mom was from England. She's an artist. She came to the States and became a kindergarten teacher. I So I had these two great parents who modeled for me the power of public schools, the power of public education and how it can change lives. Unfortunately, when I was 14 my mom had a massive heart attack right before school. I held her. She passed away that morning, and my father left with the paramedics of my mom to the ambulance to go to the hospital, not knowing what to do. Being 14 I walked to school that morning and I walked to school because I knew my teachers were gonna be there for me. I knew Mrs Travis and Mrs Warren. Um, we're gonna help me navigate this, You know, this horrible experience and I'm sure I thought they'd make things okay. Of course they couldn't. But the next 4.5 years were critical. Andi, I don't think I would have had the success I had without school communities that are behind me. Our teachers and a school administrators. You see Children like me like Jen every day. I know Dr Jackson has kids walking in, and maybe they didn't just lose their mom. But something traumatic has happened. Their life has been changed, Um, whether it's mental health, whether it's lack of nutrition, whether it's not knowing where they're going to go after school. Um, and so it's no wonder that I became a public school teacher, taught in the classroom for 12 years as a elementary school teacher to is a literacy coach in another year's a district coordinator, Um, it was important to me to give back to North Carolina. What I'm excited about is, if I get this opportunity in November, is I could be a champion, Not just for, um, you know, the schools that I worked with as a university professor and I'm in schools twice a week. Well, until Cove, it hit right. All of us were, um, but now I can be a champion for all of North Carolina, my home public schools that I grew up in. My daughters both graduated from public schools. Andi, I'm just really excited about the opportunity. So thank you for having me here today. I'm looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to hearing more from Miss Truitt. We've We've done this before, but there's always new things to learn, and I believe I could learn from everybody. So thank you for having me. Thank you. Dr. Mangrum will now move into our questions and start with you. Question number one. Discuss your plans for creating and maintaining a positive working relationship with members of the State Board of Education, the General Assembly, key education organizations like N. C. S A. And various groups of educators like superintendents, principals and teachers. If elected, thank you were starting to me. Correct. Um, so getting along with people has never been my problem. I love working with people. That's because I was in elementary school Teacher and I want to dio I wrote it down because a Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that leads others to join you. And that's my goal. I have every, um, you know, every belief that I can work with the General Assembly to make laws, policies and passed budgets. That's gonna be great for public schools because then there's going to be great for our Children. Um, we've had some disappointments over the past decade with the leadership, but I feel really positive that we can move forward. Hearing from Governor Cooper from me was very inspiring. Um, I know he understands public education. I love that he talked about early childhood education. That's what my master's degrees in. I wanna work with. Governor Cooper and the Council of State Toe also make bridges right and do great things for our students. Uh, the state Board of Education has tremendous leadership in Eric Davis and Alan Duncan. Um, I appreciate all that they've done during co vid. Unfortunately, there has been a lack of leadership, uh, to say the least, from the department of public instruction. Um, I would not be doing that. Uh, if I'm elected, I think come good times, bad times. Whether I win the next election or not, I'm gonna be there for our students. Finally, we need to work with our administrators and our educators. That is a voice that is missing. We're getting policies air coming from the top down. I wanna work with educators, administrators, superintendents to bring policy up. Thank you and cute. Uh, Miss Truitt, thank you for the question. So for me, at the heart of this question is the idea of leadership. What does good leadership look like when there are so many stakeholders? And one of my biggest strengths is the ability to engage people in a way that allows for collaboration and compromise, such that multiple voices are heard. Education is about relationships with young people, with adults with multiple stakeholders. And this requires a culture of trust and accountability. Over the past five years, I've worked with all of the stakeholders across the state on education issues, and currently I'm working with them now. And this experience has taught me that honest conversations that center around data and our mission are key to facilitating change. We all want the same thing, better outcomes than we have now for all Children in our state. The way we get there is where we may disagree. And this is why authentic leadership that is consistently focused on students is critical. I know how to pull together the multitude of stakeholders we have for the greater good. My opponent and I weighed in on this issue in an essay for Ed NC. And here's what she said. I'm not going to work with the General Assembly that's going to continue moving our schools in the wrong direction. That's why my first step in working with the General Assembly is working to change the leadership of the General Assembly. This is very short sighted when the General Assembly is not doing what right, what is right for kids. That's when you especially need to step up and work with them to speak out against what they're doing. If it is not what is best for students, thank you. And so we have a process where, um uh the candidate can rebut the final statement of the last speaker. And so, Dr Mangrove, you have exercised that, so we will turn it over to you. You get 30 seconds. Thank you. I'm sure the administrators out there No, I ran against Senator Phil Berger. I have no problem fighting the leadership when it's something worth it. And schools are. That doesn't mean physical violence. That means using our intellect. If you listen to Governor Cooper and you listen to Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, we don't want the same things. Your party wants to starve public education and put money into private schools. Uh, that's not what I'm about. And so if that means going toe to toe with the leadership in the General Assembly, I'm in it and I'm going to do it for the administrators that are out there and for teachers everywhere. Thank you, thank you. It is true. It you are. First step on our next question. What changes, if any with you implement at the Department of Public Instruction, including its organizational structure and focus Mr It. So that's a great question. D. P I has undergone several organizational structures the past four years as well as experience a lot of turnover. So to make specific recommendations right now I think is a little bit premature. But one of my first priorities, if elected, would be to fill the deputy superintendent roles that air now vacant, especially the the superintendent of the Office of Early Learning. I also feel that we would need to bring in an outside consultant to help the entire department become a cohesive team of people with a common mission and vision, all rowing in the same direction because I know that that does not exist now. I like the word focus that's in this question, because I think that it's critical that the new state superintendent understand the board's strategic plan. I think right now there are duplicative efforts going on between the FBI and State Board of Education, and I think that we need to foster an environment of collaboration between us, the State Board of Education and D P I and the other agencies that we need toe work with. Um, But finally, what I will say is that my vow to superintendents and school boards is that I will be accessible. Thank you. Thank you, Dr Minger. Yes. So the first thing that I want to do is restore competency knowledge in morale. Thio, the Department of Public Instruction. I think we all understand that Mark Johnson has really hurt around our building. He has ostracized people. We've lost great people with great institutional knowledge. I want to bring back a culture where we are supportive of our superintendents in our schools. I see our role as, um providing resource is and supports and taking away barriers. And in order to do that, we need to have someone in the office who can pump people up, galvanized people get us working together for the same end. I also want to create an office of equity that I've talked about extensively. We have some much information from James Ford from Creed, the Center for Research on Equity and Education. We know that our black and brown Children are not getting the same education as everyone else by putting the Office of Equity N D. P I. I'm letting people know this is important. It's also important because we need to meet the needs of lots of marginalized populations, whether it be poverty, whether it be, uh, sexual orientation. Um, our job is to protect students and to take care of them so that they can learn and have great learning experiences. I'm going to collect, monitor and analyze data to see where those gaps, you know, how are we gonna fill them on and put great people in positions to help me do that? And finally, I'm going to provide the superintendent's out there, the administrators with support and training for their educators so that we meet the needs of all our students in North Carolina. Mr. I believe you're putting up your rebuttal side on DSO. We'll give you 30 seconds. Thank you. I would like to point out that back to what I said about their needing to not be duplicative efforts between D. P. I and the state board of that. That last week, Dr Bev Emery was appointed to be the Leandro executive director, and she will be duly reporting to the superintendent and to the board. Um, this is part of the state Board of Education strategic plan of their their equity resolution, which describes their broader commitment to ensuring equity. Um, this role will include things like district and regional support for exceptional Children and ensuring we have equity for all Children as part of Leandro. Thank you. That the Mangrum our third question goes to you first. What are the biggest concerns regarding covert 19 and K 12 schools? And how would you address those concerns if elected? Right. So Kobe 19 has not only magnified and shown us thes, uh, inequities we have, but they've also made them worse. Eso When I if I win. Thank you. Um I want to recognize some of the different groups that are marginalized and how we can help them. That includes students from families with low income. We need to expand Medicaid. So we need to be having these conversations with the General Assembly about how health insurance and well being is important to students learning. I want to help students with disabilities. I think that they probably have been the most put out by the Kobe 19 because they haven't had their different therapies. Occupational speech, etcetera. I think we need to meet their needs first. Um, I'm gonna have well resourced, inclusive schools that will allow every child to flourish. My role again is to provide support so we can get those kinds of things happening. I also agree with Miss Truitt about memories position. It was gonna come up in a later question, but yeah, we need to have someone who's overseeing Leandro and making sure that we're following that road map. Um, in my case, that's gonna be may. I'm gonna make sure that we're fighting for kids so that the Leandro and the West End report are followed. Justus, Governor Cooper talked about. Okay. Thank you, Mr It. So when? When schools closed this spring we all know that teachers and more affluent district's were very likely to be able to start church teaching virtually right away, while students in high poverty districts were focused on feeding students and providing other kinds of wraparound services. My biggest concerns are for the Children who did not have enough to eat Children who were assed doctor, Milgrom said. Not being served in person, uh, toe have their exceptional needs taking care of. And those Children who are already behind academically, who we are all fearful will never catch up. So my plan is to collaborate with superintendents and school boards to encourage the Legislature to allow District's to focus on three things. Safety, radiation and growth. So $850 million has already been appropriated to help schools with Kobe related challenges, including safety protocols. The General Assembly returns in January, and I think we should have a whole new set of asks at that time to make sure that schools can continue to reopen safely. I want to provide supports to district's that allow them to focus on diagnostic testing to determine where students are academically, but also emotionally so that we can re mediates students while providing social emotional behavior supports. We also must continue to prioritize growth in our schools over grades and be consistent about measuring a rate of improvement of improvement. This is not a time to revert to high stakes testing. Thank you, Miss Truitt. Let's start with you for our next question. A question for in which areas of programs Do you believe the state should focus efforts for creating more equity in public education? Yes, thank you. Um, I think this is an important question because we cannot have an honest conversation about where we need to go unless we have an honest conversation about where we are compared to other states. North Carolina ranks very high for equity of state funding. Every district gets the same amount of base funding in the state, which constitutes about 62% of the funding a district receives, with the rest being from local and federal. Our problem is that the local funding district's receive is highly inequitable because it's determined by county's tax base. It currently ranges from $450 per student up to $6500 per student, and that is inexcusable. Um, the legislature a lot extra funding for English language learners. Low income students and Children with special needs are poorer. District's actually have more money per pupil. They have $2700 more per student than low than kids who are not low income. However, there are so many strings attached to those dollars. So I want to advocate for more local control when it comes to how to spend that money. And this will mean working to build trust between the Legislature and local superintendents. Part of this local control is finding a way to get leaders on board with flexible funding for positions. We have a lot of inequities that come out of the way. We fund our position allotments, and that's something specific I want to fix. Thank you, Mr. Thank you, Miss Truitt. Doctor Mango. Uh, the same question. Yeah. And I realized that you wanna work with our General Assembly. Just like Governor Cooper. I was stunned that you stood at a press conference with someone who is denying the science. Now you're talking about adequate funding. Do you know who you're speaking to? Out there? Thes air administrators who understand that we have been significantly underfunded for the past decade, and it has been the current leadership that has been doing that. You can throw out all the numbers you want, but it's not true. The things I want to change our finance system. I wanna look at our standards and curriculum, which are biased and whitewashed. I wanna look at our school disciplinary practices, eso that we use less a authority and MAWR teaching students respect on de escalation. I'd like to see us have a change in our school and teacher accountability systems. I'd like us to rethink about how we certify, recruit and keep teachers in the classroom. I'd like us to think about how we put kids in courses and how we decide the expectations for them. We all know that Leandro is a law and that were significantly under funding our schools. So I wanna work with with the General Assembly, but in a way that says we need to do what's right for kids. Um, it's a sad that we have students that lack health care or families were torn apart by ice. We have wages that air too low, including for our bus drivers and Castillion. Um our kids or not, We're not treating their well being. And in order to do that, we need to think about funding that's equitable across the state. Thank you, Miss Truitt. I saw your rebuttal sign. You have 30 seconds. Thank you. I'm throwing out numbers there because you are not Dr Mangrum. I am looking at the C D. P I, um, website right now. And our median school level per pupil expenditure by school. Poverty level is 2700 and $42 more than students who are not. Low income funding in this state since 2014 has risen 20% from the state. So to suggest that we are at that, this General Assembly has not given money to schools, is sadly mistaken. What's horrible is that we no matter how much money we've given over the last 30 years, and no matter who has been in charge, whether it's Democrats or Republicans, we haven't moved the needle on achievement for our students. Thank you. Our next question, uh, goes to you, Dr Mangrum. How What are your views on the state's recent expansion of school choice programs in the coronavirus relief package approved earlier this month. And what changes, if any, would you make to these programs? So you know, we all want choice, because choice is a good thing. However, when school choice is taking away funding from schools that are already significantly underfunded, um, it causes a real problem. It's a duality of administration. It's resegregating our schools in many ways because the communities that are taking students, um so for me vouchers have to be looked at as how are they helping our schools, and I don't see them helping them at all. There's lack of accountability and transparency in terms of charter schools. I think we need to look at the policies that air governing them right, because we want to make sure that every child is getting the same quality education when we're dealing with CMOS and for profit companies. I'm not sure that our students are getting what they deserve. Um, yes, choice is important, but let's do it through magnet programs. Let's do it through bringing our charter schools under the district umbrella. Let's think of ways that are more creative but are positive for our public school Children. Um, you know, when my when my opponent talks about school choice. She really talks about as governor, Cooper said. I'll quote him putting her friends into private school and using vouchers as subsidies. They raised the amount that you can use the salary that you could have to get a voucher up to. I believe $70,000. When are we gonna put our Children first? The majority of kids go to public, traditional public schools. We need to make sure that they have what they need again. You say I'm not throwing out numbers is because I know who my audience is. Thank you, thank you. It's true it. So when parents of Means decide that their neighborhood school is not working for their child, they paid to send their Children to a different school. In fact, Governor Cooper's Children went to private school. Low income families do not have this option. That said, I want to be very clear that the Opportunity Scholarship program is a legislative initiative that doesn't even sit within the education. The K 12 education budget. It's overseen by the CIA and is part of the university's budget, and I am not in favor of expanding the um the income threshold for opportunity scholarships. This should be a program for low income families. Um, I have a article right here. E no, you can't see because of my screen screen. That shows that magnet schools are a large contributor to what is known as within school segregation. This is a new study from Duke from Helen Lad that says that the big problem is not segregation by school. It's segregation within the classroom. That is where we need to be do