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Editorial: North Carolina expects better than Stam’s ‘petty insults’

The editorial board at the Greenville Daily Reflector [1] writes this morning that Rep. Paul Stam owes an apology, not just to the State Superintendent, but the entire state following the House Majority leader’s remark that June Atkinson “stick to her own knitting.”

Here’s an excerpt:

stamatkinson [2]When the General Assembly negotiated the state budget earlier this year, education was key to the discussion. One controversial measure, pushed by Pitt County’s Rep. Brian Brown, created a voucher system by which low-income families could receive tuition assistance to send their children to public schools. As could be expected, the routing of public dollars to private institutions caused considerable disagreement in Raleigh.

This week, Atkinson offered her opinion that unequal standardized testing will make it difficult to determine the relative strength of public schools versus private schools. Lawmakers did not mandate that all schools use the same tests so there will be differences in the scores reported. The state’s top elected education official said she would like to see common tests used in all schools.

Apparently asked for his response, Stam, a Republican representing Apex in the House, offered: “She should stick to her own knitting.”

It is absolutely galling to think that, in an attempt to dismiss reasoned criticism about the quality of classroom education, one of the state’s most prominent officials could be so dismissive and, frankly, so insulting. Atkinson has three times won statewide election, yet Stam felt it necessary to speak down to her using a predictable gender stereotype rather than politely disagreeing with her assessment.

With House Speaker Thom Tillis actively campaigning to be the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate, Stam’s leadership position makes him the natural replacement. But North Carolina expects better than petty insults from its leaders. It is critical that debates about policy remain professional rather than personal, especially when the subject is the future of the state’s education system.

Stam owes the superintendent an apology, one that should be extended to the rest of the state.’

You can read the full editorial here [1].