NC educators worried that VP Pence’s private school visit won’t focus on public school funding amid pandemic

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Vice President Mike Pence will visit Thales Academy in Apex Wednesday.

Some North Carolina educators are concerned that the trip will focus on school choice rather than public school funding.

The White House says Pence will host a roundtable at Thales Academy to discuss how they safely reopened during COVID-19.

However, in a letter sent home to parents Thales Academy said Pence’s visit will be”to witness how school choice works and to advocate for its further implementation.” School leaders say Pence has always been an advocate for school choice, which he promoted while Governor of Indiana.

The letter sent home points to the NC Opportunity Scholarship Act. The state program provides students with $4,200 tuition to private schools.

This week seven North Carolina parents, supported by the North Carolina Association of Educators and the National Education Association, filed a lawsuit in Wake County Superior Court challenging the program.

“The opportunity scholarships have been here all along to weaken public schools and push more people into private schools,” said NCAE Vice President Bryan Proffitt.

Proffitt says he wished Pence’s discussion Wednesday would focus on funding for public schools, rather than school choice. He argues the Opportunity Scholarship Act supports school privatization.

“They are doing it under the guise of concern for low income and black and brown students. Saying they don’t get a good enough education in public school, so we have to give them “choice.” If they would actually fund the public schools, then we wouldn’t have to have this conversation in the first place,” said Proffitt.

Pence will hold a roundtable on school choice in an empty class room with some school staff members, according to the letter sent to parents.

He also will visit one classroom, “but it will be brief and social distancing will be maintained,” the letter says.

The letter says Pence’s team must pass a COVID-19 test before entering the school.

After his visit to Thales Academy, Pence will hold a roundtable discussion at NCBiotech on the effort to develop a COVID19 vaccine.

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