On Friday, North Carolina Lt. Governor (and candidate for governor) Dan Forest released an open letter to “North Carolina teachers and school personnel.” The message was sent directly to all teachers via their school email addresses by Forest’s Director of Communications Jamey Faulkenbury.
In the rabidly partisan letter, Forest smears former Democratic leadership for “incompetent mismanagement” and cuts to education funding which were made during the height of the Great Recession. He praises Republicans for what he frames as significant investments in education since they took over in 2011. He blasts Governor Cooper for vetoing this year’s budget and education-related funding. Finally, he mocks the North Carolina Association of Educators’ membership numbers and says the teachers’ association has fought “tooth and nail to ensure you do not receive a pay raise.”
You can read the letter for yourself here:Open-Letter-to-NC-Teachers
Forest’s diatribe followed a letter that Governor Roy Cooper sent to public school principals on Thursday, updating educators on the budget situation and calling for negotiations on salary increases.
After Cooper’s letter was sent, conservatives raised ethical and legal questions about the governor’s use of state email for what they perceived as political activity. It’s unclear whether they have the same questions about Dan Forest’s communication, which upped the inflammatory partisan rhetoric ante considerably and also reached each teacher directly rather than leaving distribution to principals’ discretion.
Forest’s email may not technically violate State Board policy or state statute, but for a Lieutenant Governor to use the power of his office and state email to spread blatant campaign propaganda lambasting Governor Cooper to 100,000 potential voters just two days after filing to run for governor is extremely unethical.
On a related note, it’s fair to wonder how Lt. Governor Forest could have gotten his hands on the email addresses of all of North Carolina’s teachers. Who would possibly be in a position to supply Forest with that information?