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Scher's first town hall sparks lively discussion
August 23, 2016
At the Independence Regional Library on Monday, Aug. 15, the first in a series of town hall-style meetings organized by Lloyd Scher, candidate for the District 39 seat in the N.C. Senate, those attending asked numerous questions about education, students, schools and teachers.
Education was the theme of the meeting. Others in the series are expected to cover senior adult issues, transportation, environment concerns, and health care.
At the first, voters asked Scher what he would do about low teacher pay, the need for new schools and better support for existing ones, teacher tenure (also known as career status), vouchers to pay students' tuition at private schools, and the controversial Common Core curriculum.
“When General Assembly members say they are giving more funding to education than ever before, that's not exactly true,” Scher said during his opening words. In its budget, the legislature did appropriate more money for schools, but the increase pays only for the higher number of students enrolled and the teachers needed to teach them, he said. The rate of state support per pupil actually decreased.
Voters attending also said said they were concerned about teacher pay. The current pay scale is unfair, rewarding teachers at the beginning of their careers and neglecting the experienced veteran teachers. One teacher said completing the demanding requirements for National Board Certification doesn't result in any more pay. Another teacher said the lack of tenure for long-term teachers – now called “career status” is a problem.
The Common Core curriculum sparked a long discussion. It leaves students behind by confusing them and not focusing on basics, a teacher said. He added that the curriculum is not developmentally appropriate – kids who learn through Common Core find that they're not prepared for higher grade-level studies. Scher said he opposes Common Core, saying it was developed by businesses, instead of using a curriculum that educators and education psychologists – the professionals who know what works in the classroom – developed through their hard-won expertise.
In an answer to a voter question, Scher said he opposes vouchers for private schools. “It's wrong to use tax money to pay for enrollment in private schools, thus depriving the public schools of that money.
Scher said charter schools should have closer oversight by county and state school boards, to make certain that students study the same basics that public schools offer.
In opening remarks, Scher also said he stands for repeal of the controversial HB2, the so-called “bathroom bill,” which was written by Scher's Republican opponent.
The next town hall meeting will be at the Tyvola Senior Center, 2225 Tyvola Road. The topic will be issues affecting senior adults.