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2020 Candidates for NC Lieutenant Governor

Updated: Oct 13, 2020

Our #voteyourvoice series continues... PENC encourages our members to take the time to do your homework and to learn about the candidates who are seeking your vote. PENC will not endorse candidates and will not tell you how to vote, but we do believe it is important for you to make an informed decision at the poll. To facilitate your information gathering, we put together the list of questions for the candidates of some statewide offices to elicit their views on a number of topics of interest to the education community. Their unedited responses will be published for your review beginning with the candidates for governor. Others will follow over the next few days. Our sincerest thanks to the responsive candidates who have provided you with this valuable information. We encourage you to visit their websites and consider their qualifications and goals on issues that are important to you. Most importantly, we encourage you to get out and vote! #voteyourvoice

2020 Candidates for NC Lieutenant Governor

Speaking Out on the Issues

Yvonne Holley (D)           

Mark Robinson (R)*

Question 1: Demands on Teachers

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic how do you plan to address increasing demands on teachers, including lack of support staff?

Answer from Yvonne Holley:

We need to take our teachers, teaching assistants, and school support staff into account while making decisions about reopening schools.  All educators, school staff, parents, and community stakeholders are concerned about getting back to in-person learning, the health implications of reopening, what the format will/should look like, as well as what the social and emotional impact will be on students. So far during this pandemic, the conversations have been focused on students only, but our schools take a community of support in order to successfully educate our children. 

* Candidate Mark Robinson did not respond to the PENC Questionnaire

Question 2: School Safety

The state has invested a great deal of resources into school safety including SROs and active shooter training, but we lack resources in mental health. What is your plan to increase mental health resources for kids?

     Answer from Yvonne Holley:

We need to increase students’ access to counseling services. The ideal ratio between counselors and students should be 250/1. Right now in North Carolina, the ratio is well over 1000 students to each counselor. Additionally, during this time of COVID we have an opportunity to provide tele-health services to our students who can often feel sheltered and alone. We need to be able to teach and nurture the whole child and increasing mental health services is a good step in that direction.

Question 3: School Grades

PENC recognizes that the current system is unfair. How do you think schools should be evaluated? What do you envision as a better plan to evaluate schools?

       Answer from Yvonne Holley:

Grades are not the only marker of success that we can assign to our schools and students. We need to take a look at our education system with a holistic approach where we set our students up for success in whatever avenue they take as they enter adulthood. Not every student will go to college, and we need to provide more options to those students who don’t. That increased diversity in accountability and evaluation would help fewer students fall through the cracks and would be a better gauge of school efficacy.

Question 4: Recruitment and retention

Starting in 2021, newly hired teachers will not receive health insurance in retirement. How much impact do you feel this has on teacher recruitment and retention? Are you in favor of repealing this state law?

       Answer from Yvonne Holley: I am 100% in favor of repealing this state law. Our teachers spend a lifetime educating and supporting our children. We must support our teachers even after they retire. My worry is that teachers will leave the state of North Carolina as they gain experience because other state value them more. We cannot let that happen. We must show these teachers that this state will stand by them in the classroom and in retirement. Without that commitment to them, how can we expect them to commit to North Carolina? 

Question 5:  Diversity in the Classroom

According to EdNC and also in light of the recent Black Lives Matter movement, “NC public schools are becoming increasingly diverse with students of color now making up more than 50 percent of total enrollment. The state’s teaching work force, however, does not reflect that diversity, with about 80 percent of teachers both white and female.” What will you do to encourage recruitment and retention of educators from under-represented groups?

       Answer from Yvonne Holley:

We need to start early in our recruitment of educators. We should design programs that will encourage students of our great North Carolina colleges and universities’ to stay here and become educators here in North Carolina. One easy solution we can make is partnering our wonderful HBCUs with local school systems so that when college students are doing their student teaching, they should work directly in the communities that need more support. We need to make our schools more enticing for new teachers of all backgrounds and prove to them that North Carolina’s students are worth it.

Question 6: Teacher frustrations

Teacher frustrations and needs are well-publicized in sources like the Teacher Working Conditions survey. What are the most important teacher issues that you will address in your administration, such as work-load, compensation, veteran teachers, and school calendar and other charter-like flexibility? 

       Answer from Yvonne Holley:

First of all, I would fight to recruit and retain our state’s best and brightest teachers by doing more than increasing their pay. A complete lack of financial investment in education doesn’t just affect teachers and students; it affects our parents and community stakeholders as well. Our schools have been greatly under resourced across the board for a decade. In the age of COVID, the needs are greater than they have ever been before. I acknowledge that during this pandemic, teachers have been working twice as hard and twice as long – all while being woefully underpaid and disrespected. Our teachers need to be given the support they need – in every way, not just financially – and to be treated with respect while being trusted to expertly teach the children of North Carolina. My administration would also focus on the social/emotional wellbeing of our teachers, would listen to and address their concerns, and would work very hard with the Department of Public Instruction to reduce workload and other stressors. Their jobs are important enough as it is. #voteyourvoice

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