Dome: Teachers group challenges McCrory

FROM STAFF REPORTSSeptember 24, 2012 

ChamberMcCrory_07

Gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory speaks to the Charlotte Chamber during the board of directors / advisory board meeting at the UNC Charlotte Center City campus on Monday Aug. 27, 2012.

JEFF WILLHELM — jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com

The state teachers association is hitting Republican gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory for his support of a charter school company being investigated in Florida for using uncertified teachers and asking school employees to hide the practice.

The company under fire is K12 Inc., a for-profit, publicly traded company. Earlier this year, McCrory singled out a school being proposed by the company during a speech in Asheboro. “I am a firm believer in competition and support charter schools,” McCrory said, according to local reports. “I am supporting a virtual charter school in Concord.”

K12 Inc. is facing national scrutiny and lawsuits about its educational rigor, the most recent being an inquiry launched earlier this month in Florida after documents showed that company officials asked teachers to take credit for classes and students that they didn’t teach.

Given the questions, is McCrory, a former Charlotte mayor, reconsidering his support for the school? A spokesman for the gubernatorial candidate said no.

“Mayor McCrory outlined a clear plan to reform and improve education in North Carolina, and he strongly supports giving parents and students educational choice while expanding virtual education,” spokesman Ricky Diaz said.

But Diaz added: “Of course, charter schools and charter school operators must obey the law and adhere to rigorous standards.”

Brian Lewis, a spokesman for the N.C. Association of Educators, is sending word about McCrory’s support for the K12 school in Concord to members and supporters. The association is backing Democrat Walter Dalton in the race.

Rubio campaigning in Charlotte

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio – one of the GOP’s rising stars – is scheduled to be in Charlotte on Wednesday for a Romney-Ryan “Victory Rally.”

The Florida Republican will speak to Mitt Romney supporters at 1:45 p.m. at SteelFab, which has operations in Raleigh and Charlotte and a dozen other locations around the country.

Rubio was among those considered by Romney as a running mate. The Cuban-American lawmaker, who introduced Romney at the recent Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., is also touted as a future presidential candidate.

Tatum takes on GOP tax plans

Democrat Bill Tatum is trying to make the Republican plan for a major tax overhaul a campaign issue in state House District 51.

McCrory is proposing to cut or eliminate the state’s personal and corporate income taxes – an idea also being considered by Republican legislative leaders – that could reduce state revenue anywhere from $2 billion to $11 billion, according to a News & Observer analysis reported Sunday. To compensate for the lost revenue, experts suggest the Republicans would need to introduce new taxes or increase existing taxes.

“The Republican leadership in Raleigh talks a big game on tax reform, but their early discussions indicate they’re really interested in creating service taxes that disproportionately hit the middle class,” Tatum said in a statement. “They think you should be paying new taxes when you visit your doctor, talk to a lawyer, hire a plumber or even get a haircut. The service tax shifts the tax burden onto the middle class, and I will oppose any new taxes on middle class working families.”

Republican leaders say the changes are necessary to make the state more business friendly and help boost the state’s economy.

Tatum, who lives in Sanford, faces Republican incumbent Mike Stone, who he says votes “in lock step with the GOP leadership.”

Instead of the tax code overhaul, Tatum proposes “getting a handle on bureaucratic regulations, cutting through red tape and freeing up businesses to make a profit.”

Staff writers John Frank and Rob Christensen and Charlotte Observer staff writer Tim Funk contributed to this report.

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