NC Superintendent Truitt once vowed to oppose voucher expansion, now publicly celebrates their tripling

This week was School Choice Week, a nationwide event dreamed up by a nonprofit whose stated mission is to “advance positive school choice messaging across the nation.”

Joining in North Carolina’s celebration was a jubilant Senator Phil Berger, still grinning about how his stolen supermajority this past session ensured Governor Cooper couldn’t veto terrible Republican policies. Another featured speaker at the event was State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt.

The party on Halifax Mall revolved around recent changes in school voucher law in North Carolina. Those changes include tripling existing funding of vouchers which primarily go to private religious schools as well as the elimination of eligibility requirements for voucher recipients.

Prior to the change in law, vouchers were only available for families who demonstrated financial need and whose children had attended public schools or were entering K, 1st or 2nd grade. The new law allows anyone to receive voucher money regardless of their family’s income and regardless of where they’ve gone to school.

That means taxpayers are now forced to subsidize private school tuition for North Carolina’s wealthiest families, even those who have never considered sending their children to traditional public schools and never would.

The private schools that NC taxpayers are supporting are legally able to discriminate against children. Many of them refuse admission to non-Christians or LGBTQ+ individuals.

A lot of the voucher-receiving schools also refuse to accept students with learning disabilities.

The massive increase in school voucher funding means that, by the year 2031, North Carolina will be diverting more than a half billion dollars a year to vouchers.

That’s funding our crumbling traditional public schools sorely need.

According to North Carolina’s Office for State Budget and Management, the changes in voucher law could drain 8% of public school funding if just half of the new vouchers go to students who currently attend public schools.

What kind of education leader would celebrate the schools that the vast majority of our students attend losing funding at a time when those schools are struggling mightly after a decade plus of Republican policies?

The answer to that question is State Superintendent Catherine Truitt.

But it didn’t used to be.

In 2020, when she was running against then-Representative Craig Horn in the primary for superintendent, Truitt promised that she would oppose any attempts by state legislators to expand funding of school vouchers.

Fast forward to the present.

Now Truitt is superintendent, running for reelection in a party whose bosses can decide whether they want to help fund her campaign.

Truitt did not utter a protest peep this summer when expansion of voucher funding was in draft form. And now she’s out there pounding metaphorical coffin nails into traditional public schools with Senator Phil Berger, the man who has ironclad control of the Republican machine in North Carolina.

North Carolina schools need a leader who will fight for our needs, not a flip flopper who cheers our demise. Not someone who celebrates discrimination against children or helps move our education system toward privatization of a human right.

In other words, in 2024 we need to elect a new State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Alleged campaign finance crimes haunt North Carolina’s Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Mark Robinson

North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is no stranger to financial struggles.  

Since he was elected in 2020, news has emerged about Robinson being evicted for not paying rent (his elderly landlord decided against pursuing the case, partly because he was busy caring for his wife who was ill with cancer).  

We’ve also learned that Robinson stiffed Guilford County on vehicle taxes for multiple years, only making good after WRAL called him out on it in 2022.  (Robinson’s lame response was “I’m not very good at math,” as if complex calculations are required to know that the law requires North Carolina residents to pay taxes on an annual basis.)

Part of Robinson’s appeal to voters is his down-to-earth image, and I’m sure plenty of his supporters and detractors alike can relate to the problem of more month than money.

But how many of us can relate to criminal violations of campaign finance law?

This week those allegations surfaced in the form of an open letter to Mark Robinson by veteran political watchdog Bob Hall.

The story actually goes back to a complaint Hall filed with North Carolina’s State Board of Elections about a month after Robinson was inaugurated Lieutenant Governor in 2021. 

Hall had been tipped off by a News and Observer reporter and asked to look into some odd expenses that had been filed by Robinson’s campaign.  What Hall discovered amounted to more than a half million dollars of what he termed “criminal violations” of campaign finance law.

Here are some highlights:

Illegal cash withdrawals deposited to State Employees Credit Union where separate records show Robinson had a personal loan

$4500 to Robinson’s wife Yolanda Hill for “campaign apparel”

$2375 to Lake Gaston Outfitters for “campaign clothing and accessories.”  Lake Gaston Outfitters bills itself as offering “high quality paddle, hiking & cycling gear.”  

$12,000 in illegal contributions from out of state PACs and organizations not authorized to donate in North Carolina

Illegal donations over the campaign limit of $5400 from which the excess amounts were not refunded to donors as law required

Failure to properly identify 258 donors (totalling $360,000 in donations) 

There’s more.  A lot more.

After Hall’s complaint was filed, a Robinson campaign staffer said “We are transitioning to new staff, and our team is in the process of working with the NCSBE to fix any and all mistakes, and to amend our reports to be accurate and up to date.”

Hall’s open letter notes Robinson promised the “clerical errors” would be fixed “quick, fast and in a hurry.”  Now almost three years after he assumed office, exactly zero amended reports have been filed.  The State Board of Elections investigation is presumably still moving along at a glacial pace.

And Mark Robinson is in the middle of a campaign to assume the highest office in North Carolina, our next governor.

You can read Bob Hall’s complaint filed with the State Board of Elections below: