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Your Voice, Your Vote: Quality of Education a Top Concern in NC

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RALEIGH — As North Carolinians prepare to elect a new governor, the issue of most concern, by far, is the quality of education.

A statewideYour Voice, Your Votepoll is ready for the 2000 elections. Voters see tough, top-quality teachers and smart spending as essential to sustaining the state's economic momentum into the 21st Century.

"No one wants their standard of living to fall," says voter Kurt Gibson. Voters believe quality education is the best way to keep that from happening.

Of 1,000 voters polled, 45 percent saidimproving public educationwould do the most to improve an already strong North Carolina economy. To accomplish this, they want smaller classrooms with more discipline.

"If a teacher is going to teach a class they must be in control of the class, without discipline you cannot control a class," says voter Lewis Miller.

To control the loss of teachers, there is one answer.

"Teachers need to be paid more so a high quality will stay in teaching instead of going to the private sector," says Gibson.

There is a catch. Who wants to pay for this? Do voters thinktaxes should be increasedfor more teachers or higher pay? Of those polled, 42 percent say yes.

"If that means more tax dollars are needed to accomplish this I would vote for that, yes," says voter Jenny McDonald.

"I wouldn't have a problem with that as long as they're not wasting the money in other areas," says Gibson.

Education was cited by 34 percent of those polled as the singlemost important issuefacing the next governor. No other issue drew more than 6 percent and that includes health care, crime and violence, urban sprawl and the environment.

Times may be good for most voters, but the gap between the rich and poor is deepening with 73 percent wanting the state to work hard to narrow the gap.

"The Governor goes out and buys a gallon of gas and I go buy a gallon of gas. And that person making $7 to 8 an hour, they're going to pay the same price. It's the same thing with a loaf of bread. Same thing with a gallon of milk," says Miller.

There were other topics that hit a nerve with voters.

"If tax dollars need to be increased to increase the number of police officers out there, and to increase law enforcement, then I think that should be a concern," says McDonald.

"I do think that the water quality problems definitely needs to be addressed," says Gibson.

"When they took prayer out of the schools then came the drugs, then came the guns," says Lewis.

Voters say they want the chance to vote on a state lottery.

As far as the qualities they are looking for in the next governor? A person who is not afraid to make tough decisions, even when the choices are not popular. Your Voice, Your Vote is an association of television stations and newspapers across the state who will focus political coverage on the issues the voters have told us are most important -- not necessarily only what the candidates want to say.

WRAL-TV's partner for the election year is theNews and Observer. You can read more about the Your Voice, Your Vote poll in Sunday's paper.


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