Republican Catherine Truitt rode a conservative wave across North Carolina on Tuesday to become the state’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The chancellor of Western Governors University North Carolina defeated UNC-Greensboro professor Jen Mangrum with 51 percent of the vote.
Truitt will bring solid conservative credentials to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education (SBE). She believes in school choice and supports North Carolina’s controversial Opportunities Scholarships favored by the state’s GOP leadership.
She’ll have a conservative ally on the board. Mark Robinson, a military veteran and Greensboro businessman defeated Democrat Yvonne Lewis Holley, a four-term state representative for Raleigh’s District 38, on Tuesday to become North Carolina’s first black lieutenant governor.
The lieutenant governor serves on the SBE, so Robinson will have opportunities to impact state education policy.
The political novice became a darling of the GOP and the National Rifle Association in 2018 after he gave a speech before the Greensboro City Council in support of gun rights. The video has been viewed millions of time.
Here’s what’s posted on Robinson’s campaign website about his position on education:
Mark believes that education is one of the most important issues that our state faces today. He believes that education should be just that, education; Indoctrination in our public schools must end. Mark advocates for parents having the decision in how and where their children are educated and supports school choice. As a part of supporting school choice, he believes that we should continue and strengthen opportunity scholarship programs which allows students of lower economic statuses to have the opportunity to go to a school outside of the public school system and to receive financial assistance to do so.
Truitt also supports school choice, including the adding more charter schools to the 201 already operating in the state. She also supports Opportunity Scholarships (school vouchers), but has expressed reservation about expanding them to include children from wealthy families.
The vouchers were created to help low-income families pay tuition at private schools. Parents can receive up to $4,200 in scholarship money for that purpose. GOP leaders successfully pushed to increase the income eligibility to allow wealthier families to participate.
Truitt is likely to enjoy a more collegial relationship with SBE members than Mark Johnson, whom she will replace.
Johnson was often at odds with the SBE over policy issues, most notably Johnson’s awarding of the state’s K-3 reading diagnostic tool to Istation. Johnson and the board also had a big fight about the powers of the superintendent almost immediately after he took office. The dispute landed in court.
Truitt distanced herself from Johnson in a September editorial board meeting with the Raleigh News & Observer, calling Johnson someone who “didn’t know how to listen to other people, didn’t know how to accept help, didn’t know how to lead.”
Senate leader Phil Berger touted Republican victories in an election night statement. Democrats appear to have lost ground in the House and fell short of their goal to pull even with Republicans in the Senate.
“For the sixth consecutive election, voters made a clear choice in support of the Republican platform of low taxes, expanded school choice, and large investments in education and teacher pay,” Berger said. “The Senate Republican majority will continue to deliver on those promises.