Dan Soucek held an education forum in Watauga County last night — and it wasn’t pretty.
The Watauga Democrat reports that Soucek, who shared a panel with former Teacher of the Year Darcy Grimes and Watauga County Board of Education Member Ron Henries, among others, was frequently interrupted with shouts and laughter in response to his explanations for the General Assembly’s decision to curb education spending and freeze teachers’ salaries last summer.
Soucek requested that no one film the event. You can see evidence of the clamp-down over at High Country Press’ website, where photos chronicle Watauga County GOP chair Anne-Marie Yates blocking someone from taking video with her hands.
A sheriff’s deputy removed one person from the room prior to the forum’s conclusion.
Watauga County Teacher of the Year Katie Matthews needled Soucek on the new teacher contract system, which would reward the top 25 percent of teachers with 4-year contracts worth $500 bonuses annually.
Soucek said they desired a plan that would reward the best teachers, not just all teachers across the board. He characterized it as a first step in the right direction, one that gives local boards discretion.
“In the end, no one is worse off, and some people are better off,” Soucek said to a unified shout of “wrong” from the crowd.
UPDATE: Read this eyewitness’ account of the meeting here. According to that story, Soucek responded to North Carolina being 46th in the nation in teacher pay with “some of that rhetoric is just overblown.”