Great news! Rep. Tricia Cotham is offering refunds to former supporters she betrayed with party switch

Sunday’s New York Times deep dive into Mecklenburg County Representative Tricia Cotham’s shocking decision to switch parties and give North Carolina Republicans a veto-proof supermajority in the state legislature contained few bombshells on the now-infamous legislator’s controversial move.

For the most part, the Times rehashed details many North Carolinians already know:

➢ That Cotham was recruited by Republicans to run for a second stint in the legislature after several years away

➢ That Cotham spent the years between her first and second stretches as an elected official working as a education-focused lobbyist, developing close relationships with Republicans and a passion for school privatization

➢ That when Cotham filed to run in 2022 it surprised many Democrats–and her silent treatment of others in the caucus and of organizations like Planned Parenthood raised concerns before the election

➢ That Cotham was angry that Democrats “treated her as a newcomer when she returned to the House, inviting her to freshman orientation and offering her a mentor”

➢ That no evidence has surfaced to support Cotham’s contention that she was a victim of bullying by fellow Democratic legislators

➢ That the legislator was envious of attention that other Democrats received from the party and upset that she “did not get the gratitude or spotlight that she felt she deserved”

However, some details about Cotham’s political fundraising stood out to me.

Cotham was elected to a very blue seat, knocking off her Republican opponent by almost 20%. Interestingly, the New York Times identifies some of the biggest donors to her campaign for the Democratic House seat as having given almost exclusively to Republicans.

The Times also noted at least one donor, Ann Newman, as having requested and received a refund for a $250 contribution she made to Cotham’s 2022 campaign.

According to, Cotham took in nearly $82,000 in contributions for the 2022 general election. While there were apparently some Republicans donating to what they hoped would be a Trojan Horse candidate, the majority of those donors were local Democrats who expected that Cotham would represent their interests after they helped her win her seat.

That’s what a representative is supposed to do, right?

Not only did Cotham NOT represent those interests, her decision to switch parties singlehandedly gifted a veto-proof supermajority to North Carolina Republicans, meaning Governor Cooper can no longer stop terrible policy from becoming law.

Cotham has also gone out of her way to lend support to efforts to restrict women’s health care and divert funding for public schools to private schools and charters.

So much for those campaign promises.

If you’re among the donors that Cotham hoodwinked, you can request a refund by email or phone at the contact information provided on Cotham’s General Assembly page:

North Carolina Republicans poised to triple funding for nation’s least accountable school voucher program

*originally published by the Charlotte Observer

As North Carolinians wait for state legislators to wrap up their vacations and pass an overdue state budget, details on what to expect are beginning to emerge.  

According to House Speaker Tim Moore, proposed expansion of the state’s controversial school voucher program “will be part of the final budget agreement.”

Assuming no major changes to voucher bills filed earlier this session, the legislation will triple funding for school vouchers as well as eliminating income eligibility requirements so that any student in the state–regardless of financial need–may use public money to attend private schools.

In effect, that means North Carolinians will now be forced to subsidize the tuition of wealthy students who already attend private school.  Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt recently acknowledged that fact, saying the Department of Public Instruction expects most vouchers to be taken by families whose children do not currently attend public schools.

(Side note:  Thus far Superintendent Truitt has NOT lived up to her campaign promise to oppose voucher expansion if elected)

Opportunity Scholarship was first implemented in school year 2014-15 and doled out a mere $4.6 million in taxpayer funds that year.  School year 2022-23 saw nearly $134 million distributed, the vast majority to private schools.  The new legislation would take that figure north of a half a billion dollars a year by school year 2032-33.

You’d think the self-styled party of fiscal responsibility would want to ensure that taxpayers are getting a good return on an investment of more than a half a billion dollars a year.  

You’d be wrong.

Republican legislators have created the country’s least accountable voucher system in North Carolina.  Not only do voucher-accepting schools have no requirements for teacher licenses, accreditation or standard curriculum, but these schools have no requirement to participate in the state’s end of year testing program.  That means we have no way of knowing whether any student who has left a traditional public school for a voucher school is getting better academic outcomes or not.

Republicans’ anything-goes approach to voucher management means abundant opportunities for fraud by unscrupulous, profit-driven actors, and the school privatization space is filled with them.

A recent comparison of student enrollment with voucher funds disbursement by North Carolina Justice Center policy analyst Kris Nordstrom found evidence of private schools claiming more vouchers than they had students, and the State Bureau of Investigation is now investigating the matter.  Inquiries to the General Assembly’s most pro-voucher legislators (including former Mecklenburg County’s infamous former Democrat Tricia Cotham) about how they will protect taxpayers from such fraud in the future have been met with cricket noises.

In addition to problems with lack of accountability and potential for fraud, expansion of vouchers means less available funding for the traditional public schools that serve the vast majority of the state’s students.  Hundreds of millions of dollars a year is a lot of money to divert away from public schools at a time when those schools are struggling to staff up and to provide students with the resources they need to learn.  

The North Carolina Office of State Budget and Management estimates the changes will directly deprive public schools of more than $200 million per year by school year 2026-27.  Those cuts will be felt most deeply by the state’s rural districts:

It’s anyone’s guess when the state budget will be presented to the public, although some signs point to next month.  That leaves time for you to contact your legislators and express your views on voucher expansion or any other legislative matter that concerns you.  

You can find contact information for members of the General Assembly below:

Senate contact info

House contact info

Lawsuit alleges affair with second most powerful Republican in NC’s state legislature destroyed marriage

NC House Speaker Tim Moore has some explaining to do.

Moore leads Republicans in North Carolina’s House of Representatives and is second only to Senate Pro Tempore Phil Berger when it comes to political muscle in the state.

WRAL just broke the news that Moore and an unidentified “John Doe” are being sued in Wake County Superior Court over Moore’s alleged extramarital relationship with the wife of a Wake County Public Schools assistant principal.

Scott Lassiter serves as an administrator at Connections Academy Middle School and was on Apex’s Town Council from 2011-2015.

Lassiter’s lawsuit alleges that his wife Jamie Liles Lassiter, who serves as Executive Director of the North Carolina Conference of Clerks of Superior Court, engaged in an extramarital affair with Moore which ultimately led to the end of the Lassiter’s marriage.

The suit claims that when confronted by her husband,

“Mrs. Lassiter tearfully confessed that she had been involved in an extramarital affair with Defendant Tim Moore for more than three years, that she had engaged in sexual activity with Defendant Tim Moore (including group sex with other individuals seeking Defendant Tim Moore’s political favor), and that she feared ending the relationship with Defendant Tim Moore would result in losing her job.”

According to the lawsuit, Mr. Lassiter and Speaker Moore met at a Biscuitville to discuss the matter four days later.

At the Biscuitville meeting, Moore allegedly admitted the affair and asked Lassiter if there was anything [Moore] could do for Lassiter, “implying that he could use the power he held as Speaker in some way to benefit Plaintiff.”

The lawsuit also claims that earlier this month an unidentified man (“John Doe” in the court filing) secretly installed a camera in a tree in Lassiter’s yard pointing at Lassiter’s house “to capture photos and video recordings of Plaintiff without Plaintiff’s consent.”

For his part, Speaker Moore claims the allegations are “baseless” and says he intends to “vigorously defend this action.”

You can read the entire lawsuit below:


As massive expansion looms, new analysis points to possible fraud in North Carolina’s school voucher program

With North Carolina’s Republican state legislators poised to massively expand public funding for school vouchers, a new analysis of school enrollment vs. current voucher spending finds that private schools may be fraudulently claiming millions of dollars in vouchers for students they don’t have.

Charlotte-area Representative Tricia Cotham’s recent betrayal of her constituents by switching parties just months after being elected handed a supermajority to the NC GOP and effectively ended Governor Cooper’s ability to veto bad legislation.

Cotham and her school-privatizing colleagues then filed a bill which will increase funding for vouchers by hundreds of millions of dollars a year as well as eliminating income eligibility requirements, meaning taxpayers will now subsidize the private school tuition of wealthy families whose children already attend private schools.

You’d think that North Carolina’s Republican leadership would want taxpayers to know whether they’re getting a good return on investment for all those billions of dollars that will now be flowing into private schools instead of public schools.  After all, we’re talking about the self-styled party of fiscal responsibility, right?

But NC’s “Opportunity Scholarship” voucher system is the least accountable in the nation, requiring no tests to measure student learning outcomes.  We have no way of knowing whether all that money is actually helping children.

As if this complete lack of accountability isn’t bad enough, senior policy analyst Kris Nordstrom of the NC Justice Center has unearthed some troubling new evidence which indicates our voucher system may also be rife with fraud.

Nordstrom compared enrollment numbers with voucher claims and found multiple cases where private schools claimed more vouchers than they had students, and even some cases where private schools accepted voucher payments from the state after the schools had closed. 

Credit: Kris Nordstrom, NC Justice Center

The data shows at least $2.3 million in fraudulent payments, but it’s possible the real number is much higher.  That’s because hundreds of vouchers have been paid out to schools that don’t even report enrollment.

Our General Assembly needs to pump the brakes on voucher expansion and focus on improving Opportunity Scholarship’s accountability–both in tracking how taxpayer money is doled out and in objectively measuring the impact of vouchers on student learning outcomes.  North Carolina deserves nothing less.

New bill would authorize teaching of whitewashed, Trump-inspired social studies curriculum in NC public schools

Legislation filed in the North Carolina General Assembly last week would authorize Beaufort County Public Schools to ignore the state’s standard course of study and instead teach a controversial social studies curriculum developed by a conservative Michigan college with close ties to former President Donald Trump.

The bill was filed by Rep. Keith Kidwell, who represents Beaufort, Dare, Pamlico and Hyde counties.

Yosemite Sam Rep. Keith Kidwell

Scroll to page 2 of the pdf below to see the relevant portion of Kidwell’s bill.


The curriculum Kidwell is proposing be used in Beaufort County’s public schools was created by Michigan-based Hillsdale College after white fragility over Nikole Hannah-Jones’s 1619 Project prompted former president Donald Trump to issue an executive order setting up what he called a “patriotic education” commission.

Trump said at the time that the commission was intended to counter “hateful lies” being taught to children in American schools which he said constituted “a form of child abuse.”

Trump appointed Hillsdale College President Larry Arnn to chair the 1776 Commission near the end of his presidency in 2020.

The commission’s report, published on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in January 2021, was widely criticized by actual historians as a whitewashed take on American history for its downplaying of Founding Fathers’ support for slavery and quoting Dr. Martin Luther King out of context in order to create a falsely rosy view of race in the United States, among other reasons.

Hillsdale College released the “1776 curriculum” in July 2021. In its “Note to Teachers,” the curriculum reminds anyone who will be using the curriculum to teach children that “America is an exceptionally good country” and ends with the exhortation to “Learn it, wonder at it, love it, and teach so your students will, too.”

In North Carolina current state law gives the State Board of Education the authority to develop a standard course of study which each school district is required to follow. The state’s current social studies standards were adopted in 2021 over objections of Republican state board members who said the standards portrayed America in a negative light and amounted to critical race theory.

Kidwell’s bill comes just days after Representative Tricia Cotham’s party switch handed North Carolina Republicans a veto-proof supermajority in the legislature. That means there’s a good chance this Trump-inspired, whitewashed version of American history will end up on desks in Beaufort County, and there’s no reason to think other counties won’t follow suit.

According to DPI’s Statistical Profile, more than half of Beaufort County’s 5,821 public school students are students of color. Those students deserve to have their stories and their ancestors’ stories told. Those students and all students deserve to learn real American history, warts and all, not a watered-down, Donald Trump-conceived version designed to make white people feel comfortable.

You can review the entire Hillsdale curriculum below:


Superintendent Truitt canceled teacher training grant in defiance of State Board of Education vote after “CRT” pressure from right wing group

Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt defied a State Board of Education vote and canceled a $7+ million grant to UNC-Chapel Hill’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.  The institute was training North Carolina teachers to consider students’ racial and cultural backgrounds when assessing their needs.

The contract was brought to the State Board of Education for approval in January 2022.  At the meeting, board member Amy White indicated she’d received an email complaining that the training amounted to critical race theory.  (You can listen to the board’s discussion here)

White did not share the source of the complaint, but the ultra right wing group Education First Alliance made some noise about this issue around that same time.

The next day the board voted 7-4 to approve the contract with board members White, Olivia Oxendine, Treasurer Dale Folwell and Lt. Governor Mark Robinson opposing.  Superintendent Truitt does not have a vote on the board.

The following week, Truitt indicated on her official Twitter account that she would not carry out the board’s wishes on this matter.

In a January 25, 2022 letter to the institute’s director, Truitt complained about guidance on how teachers should discuss racial identity, saying “DPI leadership does not agree with some of the strategies the ELN [Early Learning Network] includes in its efforts to teach teachers about equity and cultural responsiveness.”

Truitt then chose to defy the state board’s authority and unilaterally cancel the contract.

When asked by the Raleigh News and Observer about this matter, State Board Chair Eric Davis said, “After we approved it, she switched gears. It did not sit well with us.”  Davis indicated that the state board had passed new rules clarifying that the superintendent must act on the direction of the board.

You know, just in case the North Carolina Constitution isn’t clear enough on this point:

Sec. 4.  State Board of Education.

(2) Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Superintendent of Public Instruction shall be the secretary and chief administrative officer of the State Board of Education.

Sec. 5.  Powers and duties of Board.
The State Board of Education shall supervise and administer the free public school system and the educational funds provided for its support, except the funds mentioned in Section 7 of this Article, and shall make all needed rules and regulations in relation thereto, subject to laws enacted by the General Assembly.

NC Rep. Tricia Cotham’s defection to GOP clears way for massive expansion of school vouchers

A Charlotte-area state legislator’s recent decision to switch parties just months after being elected as a Democrat all but assures a massive expansion of North Carolina taxpayer dollars flowing into school vouchers. 

In addition to increasing funding for vouchers by hundreds of millions of dollars per year, the recently filed bill eliminates income eligibility requirements so that any student in the state–regardless of financial need–may use public money to attend private schools.

Governor Roy Cooper has vetoed previous attempts to expand school vouchers.  However, Mecklenburg County Representative Tricia Cotham’s recent defection to the Republican Party gave the GOP a supermajority in the state legislature and makes it much more likely the bill will become law.

A history rooted in racism

The roots of school vouchers in our country can be traced back to the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education, the Supreme Court court case in which justices ruled that racial segregation of children in public schools violated the Constitution.  

Following this ruling, white leaders in many communities tried all kinds of devious ways to subvert it.  In Prince Edward County, Virginia, those efforts included eliminating taxes in order to defund schools and closing them rather than simply allowing racial integration.  

After pressure by the courts to comply with Brown increased, the Virginia state legislature created a “tuition grant program” which provided funding for students to attend private schools or public schools in other areas.  In Prince Edward County, black students were denied access to those tuition grants.

Most voucher funds in NC used by white students

White flight is not as socially acceptable as it once was, and modern-day proponents of school vouchers often sell them as an equalizer that allows students of color to opt out of struggling traditional public schools.  However, in North Carolina, the majority of voucher funds go to white students–despite the fact that students of color form a majority of the k-12 student racial demographics.

Vouchers fund religious schools that discriminate

Another problem with expansion of vouchers in North Carolina is that this practice directs public dollars to private schools which focus on religious teaching and are legally able to discriminate against children.

This year’s top recipient of North Carolina voucher funds ($2,261,497) is Grace Christian School in Sanford. Check out Grace’s Educational Objectives page:

Fayetteville Christian School is pocketing a cool $1,336,793 in taxpayer funding this school year. Here’s their policy on religious discrimination and what they’ll do if they find out that Heather has two mommies:

The student and at least one parent with whom the student resides must be in full agreement with the FCS Statement of Faith and have received Jesus Christ as their Savior. In addition, the parent and student must regularly fellowship in a local faith based, Bible believing church. Accordingly, FCS will not admit families that belong to or express faith in non-Christian religions such as, but not limited to: Mormons (LDS Church), Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims (Islam), non-Messianic Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, etc. Furthermore, students and families are expected to manifest by example Christian virtue in their lives both in and out of school by living life according to Biblical truth. Accordingly, FCS will not admit families that engage in illicit drug use, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality (LGBT) or other behaviors that Scripture defines as deviate and perverted. Once admitted, if the student or parent/guardian with whom the student resides becomes involved in any of the above activities it will be grounds for dismissal of the student/family from the school.

The real problems traditional public schools face

A common refrain for school privatizers is to say we just need to provide more choice and let the free market figure it out. And we have to acknowledge that many of our traditional public schools are struggling. But rather than opportunistically siphoning away their funding, let’s take an honest look at why those schools may be struggling.

The party that Representative Cotham just joined and handed a veto-proof majority to has maintained a gerrymandered stranglehold on power in North Carolina since 2010. During that time our state legislature has passed law after law that has made it harder to attract and retain excellent teachers:

‣ Cut master’s pay supplement and longevity pay
‣ Revoked retiree health benefits
‣ Eliminated due process rights
‣ Gutted Teaching Fellows program
‣ Removed state funding for professional development

Besides running off good teachers, lawmakers have enacted other policy changes that harm student learning:

‣ Uncapped class sizes grades 4-12
‣ Cut 7,000 teaching assistants
‣ Slashed funding for school technology and classroom supplies
‣ Increased volume of standardized testing

Since they took power, Republicans have repeatedly cut taxes on both corporations and wealthy individuals, depriving public schools of billions of dollars in sorely needed revenue. In just a few years North Carolina’s corporate income tax will be eliminated entirely.

Republican lawmakers have also regularly thumbed their noses at court decisions demanding increased investment in public education, with Senate President Pro Tempore Phil Berger saying, “If judges want to get into the field of appropriating, they need to run for the legislature.”

Reversing the above changes that have devastated public education in North Carolina would be a good start toward improving the education students can get in traditional public schools.

Of course, doing so would require state legislators who actually *want* strong public schools.

If you object to your public tax dollars funding religious education and discriminatory admissions practices, please contact your state legislator and urge them to oppose expansion of school vouchers.

Senate contact info
House contact info

If you’re interested in sharing your thoughts with Representative Cotham over her betrayal of campaign donors and volunteers as well as the Mecklenburg County voters who elected her to a Democratic seat by a nearly 20% margin over her Republican opponent, her email address is:

Former Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education member facing misdemeanor charge in campaign sign incident

photo courtesy of CMS, arrow courtesy of me

The former Charlotte Mecklenburg District 6 Board of Education member who lost his reelection bid last November is due in Mecklenburg County Superior Court next month to face a misdemeanor larceny charge.

The criminal charge stems from two incidents involving campaign signs linking former BOE member Sean Strain with the ultra-conservative fringe group Moms 4 Liberty.

According to media reports published last November, Strain allegedly ripped up one sign campaign volunteer Debbie Baynard had left at South County Library. In the other incident, Baynard alleges Strain sneaked up behind her, grabbed the sign away from her and took off.

The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s website indicates that the room Strain is scheduled to appear in is used for “Citizen’s Court” cases in which one individual files misdemeanor charges against another. The website explains that, in such cases, the victim and the defendant “attempt to achieve a resolution with the help of mediators.” If no such resolution is reached, a judge will issue a verdict. If that verdict is guilty, the defendant may then appeal the decision for a jury trial.

You may view the publicly available court document below. I’ve redacted Strain’s address.


North Carolina Board of Education Chair Eric Davis has a history of bad faith on teacher merit pay

If there is anyone involved in the controversial North Carolina teacher merit pay work who should understand the importance of giving teachers a seat at the table when redesigning how they are paid, it’s the chair of the State Board of Education. 

After all, the last time Eric Davis tried–and failed–to pass merit pay against teacher objections ended with the then-chair of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education apologizing for not adequately involving teachers in the work.

Meeting minutes from that period recorded Chair Davis’s pledge that in the future he would seek to “allow for meaningful dialogue with teachers; to create ways for our teachers to participate given their high workloads and demands beyond what is currently available; and to incorporate their constructive input into the process.”

Eric Davis served on the Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education from 2009 to 2017 and chaired the body from 2009 to 2011. 

In 2011, Davis worked with CMS Superintendent Peter Gorman and Mecklenburg County Representative Ruth Samuelson to draft HB 546, a bill that would authorize Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to go off the state’s mandatory experience-based teacher pay scale and move to a “performance-based compensation system.”  

Superintendent Gorman’s team included analyst Tom Tomberlin and Director of Human Capital Strategies Andy Baxter, who worked on developing the new compensation model and (unsuccessfully) pitching it to wary teachers.

Both men now work for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and have been heavily involved in the current statewide merit pay push.

But back to 2011:  When news of the proposed legislation emerged, Charlotte educators were not pleased–in large part because the bill would have allowed the district to make drastic changes to compensation without consulting teachers.

HB 546 represented a major departure from a previous state law passed in 2007 which allowed districts to pilot merit pay only if a majority of the teachers who would be impacted by the plan had approved it via a secret ballot vote:

Large groups of educators and concerned community members began turning up to CMS board meetings to speak against the proposed merit pay switch.  Some board members began to feel HB 546 was the wrong way to go, most notably Reverend Tom Tate.

At a May 2011 board meeting, Tate expressed concern that the bill “was crafted without input from the teachers” and said this kind of work should be done “with teachers and not to teachers.”  He recommended taking Representative Samuelson up on her offer to “park” the bill for a year and allow for more discussion of the matter before proceeding.

In response, Chair Davis indicated he did not agree that teachers should have the right to make decisions about compensation plans approved by elected officials, but he added that he regretted “the manner in which this was implemented because it has alienated our teachers and strained the relationship between our teachers and district leadership.”

Just two weeks later Superintendent Gorman abruptly announced his resignation from Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.  Although local work on pay for performance initiatives did pop up again from time to time (including in 2013 when Davis reminded board meeting attendees that he “deeply regrets the frustration, anger, and mistrust” caused by attempting to move teachers to merit pay without their consent), Charlotte teachers were never really threatened with removal of the experience-based salary structure again.

Until now. 

And this time it’s not just Charlotte-area educators who are facing the threat of merit pay, but every teacher in the state.

Under Eric Davis’s leadership, the North Carolina State Board of Education recently approved a blueprint which clears the way for switching the state’s teachers from an experience-based pay scale to the country’s first statewide system of merit pay.

Teachers’ compensation and ability to advance their careers in the proposed system will be determined by standardized test results, principal and peer evaluations, student surveys, and possibly other measures that have not yet been determined.  The proposal has proven deeply unpopular with classroom teachers who are concerned about the emphasis on standardized testing and subjectivity of proposed evaluation instruments, among other things.

In a December editorial, State Board Chair Eric Davis vowed to “continue to listen to our educators” while changing teacher pay and licensure, as if teacher voice had been a priority for the state board since work on the current reform effort began four years ago.

Nothing could be further from the truth, as the following sequence demonstrates with crystal clarity. 

Work on the Pathways to Excellence pay for performance plan began with the North Carolina Human Capital Roundtable, whose first meeting in December 2018 Davis attended before handing the role off to his fellow state board member and designee Jill Camnitz.  The Roundtable was completely devoid of K-12 teachers and drafted the merit pay proposal in private, likely in violation of state open meetings law.

Public records reveal that Camnitz later schemed with State Superintendent Catherine Truitt and then-PEPSC Chair Patrick Miller to prevent media organization Education NC from independently surveying teachers to gather input on the merit pay plan over fears of losing control of the public narrative.  They didn’t want to hear what teachers had to say unless they had absolute control over how that information would be used.

In order to help achieve the goal of public narrative control, the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction enlisted the help of Raleigh-based marketing firm Eckel and Vaughan (paid for via a Belk Foundation grant). 

The firm suggested “It’s in our best interest to always speak about the plan in a positive manner.”  It’s unclear whose best interest they meant but probably safe to assume that wasn’t a reference to North Carolina teachers and students.

Eckel and Vaughan also advised using former NC Teacher of the Year Maureen Stover to help with “gaining the trust of teachers around the state” and recommended identifying teachers from varied parts of North Carolina to “submit an opinion piece in support to the [sic] changes to the system to a targeted outlet in their region.” 


When teacher outcry over the controversial plan began in spring of 2022, DPI hastily assembled its own “teacher listening sessions” which were open only to teachers who had received invitations.  Feedback provided by teachers on the proposed changes was overwhelmingly negative.  It was summarily ignored

The PEPSC Commission, which is advising Davis’s board on the switch to merit pay, only includes one currently practicing traditional classroom teacher.  That teacher rarely participates in PEPSC’s meetings, presumably because they are scheduled during the school day.

PEPSC is now putting together new committees to continue the design process.  If PEPSC’s recent history is any indication, it seems likely the new committees will also meet when teachers are busy teaching, rendering invitations to classroom teachers to participate nothing more than a PR move which will allow Eric Davis and other leaders of the merit pay work to disingenuously claim they sought input from teachers.

Speaking of history, they say those who don’t learn from it are doomed to repeat it. 

That saying applies to State Board Chair Eric Davis, who appears to have forgotten his 2011 promise to involve teachers with designing policies that impact their pay.

It also applies to North Carolina’s teachers, who need to speak up about their concerns with this misguided approach to compensation and efforts to silence teacher voices the way Charlotte Mecklenburg educators did back in 2011. 

You can email State Board Chair Eric Davis at to request directly that PEPSC committees include practicing classroom teachers and that meetings are held outside school hours.

Since any future legislation involving merit pay would require his signature, you can contact North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper to share concerns about the proposal or the State Board of Education’s actions here: 

Human Capital Roundtable member privately blasted NC teacher merit pay plan as “undercooked goulash”

A member of the shadowy group which drafted the controversial North Carolina teacher merit pay proposal blasted the plan in a private email to a colleague last year, calling out numerous flaws with the approach and deeming it “undercooked goulash.”

The document is noteworthy because the Human Capital Roundtable (HCR) has closely followed its marketing firm’s advice to “always speak about the plan in a positive manner” when members have commented on the controversial Pathways to Excellence scheme.

The refreshingly candid email was written in July 2021, a few months after PEPSC subcommittees took over work on the Human Capital Roundtable’s merit pay proposal.

At that point the HCR had shifted into marketing mode and begun assembling a “dream team” called the UpliftEd Coalition which was intended to drum up public support for making North Carolina the first state in the country to move all teachers to merit pay instead of compensating them based on years of experience.

In the email, the HCR member, who shall remain nameless, blasted the project as “undercooked goulash” and identified a variety of problems with the project, including:

➢ Unlikely that larger salaries and professional development will be funded

➢ Reduces rigor in teacher preparation

➢ Failed to adequately involve traditional classroom teachers and district personnel in design

This individual’s concerns mirror those which have since been voiced by many, including lots of classroom teachers and district personnel.

Despite the overwhelmingly negative feedback, the PEPSC Commission (kind of) voted 9-7 last month to advance a broad framework to the State Board of Education which would clear the way for the still-undercooked goulash to be officially considered.

The email was recently obtained via public records request, and you can read it below: