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Speaker Tillis and PEFNC hold surprise meeting on school choice in House chamber yesterday

Usually, public meetings are announced on the House or Senate calendar. Well, they used to be.

Yesterday, Parents for Educational Freedom in NC’s (PEFNC) twitter page was lit up with tweets coming out of the House chamber, where Speaker Tillis was holding a meeting on school choice. The Speaker had invited many guests from around the state to hear from school leaders and parents about the benefits of school choice.

NC Policy Watch stumbled across the meeting after seeing PEFNC’s twitter feed and noted that a couple of speakers were from Christian academies and spoke of high graduation rates and a superior education for those who choose their schools. The bulk of the invited guests appeared to be African American students.

The event was not publicized on the House calendar. A call to Speaker Tillis’ office to inquire why the event was not publicized in advance and to request a list of speakers, guests, and an agenda went unreturned.

According to PEFNC’s website, the event included “Speaker of the House Thom Tillis and more than 150 education leaders, students, clergy and business leaders on the House floor today during a special legislative session to discuss the demand and need for increased educational options for low-income and working-class children. The discussion comes as legislative leaders have openly discussed intentions to introduce legislation creating an opportunity scholarship program during the current legislative session.”

Rep. Marcus Brandon, who was apparently at the event (which we learned from his twitter feed), explained to NC Policy Watch that this was “a really wonderful meeting…where people could voice their opinion about why they needed a school choice bill,” and that he wished we could have been there. When asked if the event was publicized in advance, he said “oh yes, we did an email blast, and Tillis did an email blast. I don’t know what you people think is ‘public.’”

The House calendar works for us.

To contextualize his position on school choice, Brandon continued, “as a legislator, to look at her [his constituent] in her face and tell her I can’t give her a choice is unconstitutional, and it is unconstitutional not to give students a choice.”

A call to Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina for a list of speakers, guests, and an agenda also went unreturned.

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