Forum tackles education

Published 8:55 pm Tuesday, March 4, 2014



Legislators of state offices and candidates aiming for the same will congregate at Washington High School Performing Arts Center on Thursday night to talk education.

The North Carolina Association of Educators, the union representing North Carolina teachers, will host a forum in which candidates will speak about education and audience members will have an opportunity to submit questions to be asked of them by a moderator. This is the second forum in a series of five — the first was held in Dare County; the next three are in Elizabeth City, Greenville and New Bern.

“What we are trying to do is to invite all members of the educational community in Beaufort County, and neighboring counties, if they want to come,” said Dorsey Harris, NCAE staff advocate and education consultant for North Carolina’s northeast region. “We wanted to set up these education forums where legislators and candidates have the right to speak out as to where they see public education today and where they see the future of public education.”

Harris said the event is not a debate, but an informational session where candidates can share their views with anyone interested in the state of state’s education.

“I fully believe that, first of all, teachers and school personnel should be here. I think it’s important for them to take an interest in their careers and livelihoods and the future of education,” Harris explained. “Parents, child caregivers, those who have an interest and stake in education, the greater community. The taxpayers should be there.”

District 6 incumbent Rep. Paul Tine, and the two Republican candidates running against him — Dare County’s Mattie Lawson and Washington’s Ashley Woolard — have confirmed with Dorsey, as have Democrats Judy Krahenbuhl and Stan White, who are running against incumbent District 1 Sen. Bill Cook. Both Krahenbuhl and White are from Dare County. District 3 N.C. House candidate Whit Whitley, a Democrat from New Bern, will also be in attendance. Cook and incumbent District 3 Rep. Michael Speciale have said scheduling conflicts will prevent them from attending the forum in Washington. Cook previously attended the Dare County forum.

Jean Woolard, a former member of the state Board of Education and a Plymouth resident, will act as moderator. Woolard will ask each legislator and candidate to introduce themselves and speak for three to five minutes. Candidates will then answer questions that have been written by the attendees and screened by a panel, according to Harris.

White said he’s trying to attend all the NCAE forums set in District 1 locations because he has a connection to teachers: he once was one.

“I’m a former schoolteacher and I know what those folks are going through,” White said. “I think too many people are not educated about the issues and don’t know how important their participation and input is.”

The NCAE forum begins at 6 p.m. at the Washington High School auditorium. The public is invited to attend.