Historic Gathering of African-American Democratic Legislators Promotes Educational Options for All

Raleigh, NC (February 28, 2017) – Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) announced the formation of an unprecedented and historic coalition of African-American lawmakers, who are uniting to support the full range of K-12 educational options in North Carolina. Today, February 28, on the final day of Black History Month 2017, eight (8) leading members of North Carolina’s Democratic Black Caucus joined PEFNC at an event announcing the coalition and releasing a statement of support from the press conference room of the General Assembly.

In building a new education coalition that transcends race and politics, these state legislators are affirming their full support for both traditional and non-traditional educational options available to families in North Carolina. The coalition unites behind the following statement expressing support for traditional public schools and North Carolina’s two state-funded parental school choice programs (the Opportunity Scholarship and the Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grant).  Read the full statement HERE as read by Representative Rodney Moore.

The following members stood united in this historic moment:

  • Erica Smith-Ingram
  • Joel Ford
  • Ben Clark
  • Rodney Moore
  • Ed Hanes
  • Elmer Floyd
  • Cecil Brockman
  • Kelly Alexander

Affirming that “the bedrock of strong communities starts with our schools,” these African-American lawmakers are pledging to work to ensure that every child in North Carolina receives the best education possible, regardless of that child’s address or family income. Here are a few of their quotes:

“When you look at this group of legislators behind me – this group has grown. This group wasn’t this big three years ago and take note that there were several our colleagues who couldn’t be here today. We represent urban and rural, the Senate and the House. We have come to a point where we recognize thoughtful choice and approach this in an open manner and in a team concept. We have to take a stand on it and call attention to this matter. We need to continue to support thoughtful choice.” – Representative Ed Hanes (HD-72)

“I come from a very rural district unique in its opportunities but significant in our challenges. I stand as a parent who did not produce cookie cutter children despite sharing the same DNA. I stand today as a parent whose eldest child graduated from a public charter school in North Hampton county. I stand here as a parent whose younger child did phenomenally well in the public school. I stand here as a public educator who must reiterate that parents should have the opportunities and resources they need that is most conducive to their success.” – Senator Erica Smith-Ingram (SD-3)

“More often than not, what happens in our society is that those who are challenged in terms of means are the ones who do not have the opportunity or the choice. It’s incumbent upon us to ensure those who come from homes of challenged means have a chance. We should not see families as consumers of education, but viewed as individuals who facilitate the process and who have a responsibility and shape the process.” – Senator Ben Clark (SD-21)

“It is our hope that by uniting together in support of education for all and for all quality educational models, that we begin to bridge the gaps that have far too often hindered us — black versus white students, Democrat versus Republican, and traditional schools versus non-traditional schools. We have come too far and tackled too many challenges to leave a generation of children behind. Today, together, we stand for these children and we will fight for them by any means necessary educationally.” – Representative Rodney Moore (HD-99)

“Since the inception of our organization, we’ve always known that we can’t talk about K-12 education without talking about race and politics in the South, given our unfortunate history,” said Darrell Allison, President of PEFNC. “But I will be excited to be standing on the right side of history with these eight (8) Democratic leaders of color who are joining with us and our organization to work for educational options for all North Carolina students. I thank these leaders for their unabashed support for families being able to have traditional public schools as well as state-sponsored private school scholarships and public charter schools as additional tools to find the education that works for their children.”

“In the spirit of Black History Month, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., instructed us, ‘Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation,’” said Allison. “The same is true of our work for educational opportunity; it is in the spirit of Dr. King’s words that we join together. As we seek to push past old divisions and chart a new path forward in education, we affirm that our loyalties, ultimately, are to the children and families of North Carolina.”

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