Chris Carney’s campaign for state senate aims to replace one of the worst enemies of public education in our legislature.
By JAMES D. HOGAN
Over the course of the last several years in North Carolina, our state government’s political climate has dramatically changed course on the topic of public education. While the Republican party enjoyed its first monopoly on the state’s executive and legislative branches, some of its most extreme factions took aim at K-12 education. As I wrote last summer, it quickly became a war on public schools.
In the middle of that bitter fight was a state senator named David Curtis.
Curtis is easily among the loudest critics of public education. In the 2015 budget battle, he called for the outright dismissal of teacher assistants state-wide, saying they “don’t really make a difference.”
Curtis voted for Senate Bill 744, which ended teacher tenure in North Carolina—a law later overturned by the Supreme Court after being found unconstitutional. And after a frustrated teacher emailed him to express her dismay at the state of public schools, he chose to reply-all and copy the entire state senate, embarrassing the teacher and assaulting her with a litany of factually incorrect and wholly inaccurate statements about teachers.
When Curtis’s email became an overnight news item, earning him scorn from teachers state-wide, he refused to walk back his statements or apologize. In fact, he said to the Mooresville Tribune, his antagonistic comments about education “increased my stature in the legislature.”
This year, thankfully, Curtis faces a serious primary challenger in Chris Carney.
Carney, who served as a Mooresville town commissioner for six years, and who served a single term in the state senate, has quickly and clearly separated himself from David Curtis when it comes to education.
“We need to be competing with other areas to recruit and retain quality teachers and make sure they don’t have to make the tough choice between financial stability and their love of the classroom,” Carney said on the topic of education. “Being a teacher should never be considered a charity.”
“And, yes, we need to support our teachers’ assistants (TAs) who help make up the backbone of our classrooms.”
Carney has racked up endorsements from leaders across Iredell County, including County Commissioner Ken Robertson, Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins, and past Iredell GOP chair Jason Abernethy.
I’ve gotten the chance to spend time with Chris Carney, and I believe he will be a supporter of public schools, not a detractor, like David Curtis.
Local elections are crucial to improving public education in North Carolina, and in this case, the race for Senate District 44 will be decided in the upcoming primary. David Curtis, sensing his seat is vulnerable, has waged false campaigns about Carney.
Chris Carney needs the support of every teacher in District 44, which includes all of Lincoln County and significant parts of Iredell and Gaston counties. No public educator should vote for David Curtis. The damage he’s already wrought has delivered a lasting blow to our schools. It’s time for a change.
Join me in supporting education and voting for Chris Carney in the March 15 Republican primary.
James D. Hogan is a nationally recognized education writer and advocate for public schools. A former North Carolina educator, Hogan spent five years teaching high school English. Today, he works as a fundraiser for Davidson College and serves on the board of Our Schools First, which has endorsed Chris Carney for state senate.