PolitifactNC

Who's behind the new ad calling on North Carolina to reopen schools?

Posted February 22, 2021 6:21 p.m. EST
Updated February 22, 2021 6:28 p.m. EST

As Republicans push Gov. Roy Cooper to reopen North Carolina's schools, a new television ad aims to highlight the "true cost" of allowing them to stay closed.

The State Government Leadership Foundation and N2 America are launching the "Let Kids Learn" campaign that calls on state lawmakers to allow in-person instruction. The campaign's new television commercial suggests remote learning has left students with worse grades and more mental health issues.

The ad, which does not mention Cooper or any politician by name, is scheduled to air only in states with Democratic governors. The group is slamming "union-controlled politicians" for not following the reopening recommendations of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other experts who say it's safe to reopen schools.

The SGLF and N2 America announced their campaign the same week North Carolina's GOP-controlled legislature passed a bill that would require schools to offer in-person instruction.

Cooper's orders currently allow schools to reopen under a modified in-person instruction method or to offer classes online-only. As of mid-February, more than 90 of the state's 115 school districts offered a form of in-person instruction.

North Carolina Republicans want all school districts to offer a form of in-person instruction. Cooper hasn't said what he'll do with the GOP bill. After receiving it, Cooper has 10 days to sign it or veto it. If he does neither, the bill becomes law without his signature.

In the meantime, SGLF spokesman Andrew Romeo told WRAL the "Let Kids Learn" ad will air on cable in the Raleigh market.

The N2 America group is a relatively new project of Republican strategists who are trying to improve conservative messaging in the suburbs, the Washington Post reported last year.

The SGLF, however, has a record of involvement in North Carolina's redistricting process.

ProPublica reports that, about a decade ago, the Republican State Leadership Committee used the SGLF to hire a redistricting team led by the late Tom Hofeller. The team helped draw North Carolina's election maps, which the courts threw out in 2018.

State lawmakers across the country are scheduled to draw new election maps once they receive the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau. The COVID-19 pandemic caused delays in the data-gathering process, so it's unclear when the new maps will be drawn and implemented.

Romeo, the SGLF spokesman, told WRAL he's not sure if the foundation will take an interest in the process.

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