Republican voters grumble about teacher pay and outdated textbooks

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Lori Goins Clark, a Republican candidate for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board, was the scheduled speaker today at a conservative luncheon at the Golden Corral restaurant at Hanes Mall.

One voter asked Clark about teacher pay. It’s an issue that school board members hold strong opinions about, but don’t have much control over. The state legislature sets teacher pay. The voter, a retired sheriff’s deputy, asked Clark if she could explain how it is that the Republican leadership in Raleigh is touting a 7-percent raise to teachers, while his cousin, a veteran teacher in New Hanover County, saw her pay go down.

“As I understand it, we did incentivize a number of teachers — those who have been teaching four years and under,” Clark responded. “A big old bump. The ones in the middle actually got a big bump. But the teachers who have been teaching 30 years, sadly, got the least amount.”

Jane Goins, the current Republican chair of the school board who also happens to be Clark’s mother, felt compelled to speak up.

“If you’re that 30-year veteran and your check is $250 more per year and you’re that one-through-four- year teacher and yours is $3,000 [more], yes, you’re going to be happy,” she said. “But if you’re a good teacher who’s been teaching, you’re not gonna be happy. From my perspective — and I am a teacher by profession — I personally think they should get the same amount of a pay raise. Don’t give those young teachers a big pay raise and toot your horn about it. It’s not to be tooted. Those teachers are in the classroom and they’re working their buns off, and they’re getting $250 a year and those young teachers are getting $3,000 — that’s not right. There’s something wrong with this program that they initiated.”

Another voter brought up political ad by the Kay Hagan campaign that shows a teacher saying that her classroom doesn’t have any textbooks. The voter wanted Clark to confirm her impression that the ad is false.

“There are books in our classrooms; you can’t really say there are no books in the classrooms,” responded Clark, who has worked as a substitute teacher. “Granted, you can say that they are old.”

“And with Common Core here in North Carolina until we absolutely get it out we will probably not spend additional money on textbooks,” Clark added. “You will see teachers doing the very best they can — God bless ’em — to find resources to use that meet the teaching curriculum prior to Common Core. That is the best we can do at this point. And I would not be in favor of spending money on textbooks until we get rid of Common Core and start fresh.”

If active Republican voters who show up at partisan voter education events to meet local candidates are grumbling about teacher pay and outdated textbooks, it probably doesn’t bode well for either Thom Tillis, the Republican state House speaker who is challenging Hagan for her US Senate seat or for the handful of Republican state lawmakers in competitive races. If active Republicans have concerns, what does that say about casual Republican voters or independents?