Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Brandon Leads Education Reform Fight in North Carolina

NC Rep. Marcus Brandon (D), speaking at a March 2012
luncheon hosted by the Black Alliance for Educational Options and
sponsored by the American Federation for Children.
While being a freshman legislator may leave some without a vision or the leadership abilities to achieve that vision, North Carolina Representative Marcus Brandon (D) is not your typical freshman legislator.  After unseating a four-term incumbent in January 2011he has since defeated that same incumbent again in a primary battle last monthBrandon got right to work on reforming the Tar Heel State’s education system.

But his focus on helping improve the educational outcomes of children across the state is something that predates even his election to the North Carolina Assembly in November 2010. Here's what Brandon had to say during an interview with the Greensboro News-Record during an interview from September 2010:

Our educational system, although improvements have been made, continues to leave most of our children behind. We have been talking about the Education Gap since I was in Kindergarten. We have to change the focus from one on all students in a collective to a focus on individual students. In other words we should ask, “How does Johnny learn and what makes him successful?” rather than “How many students should be in a classroom for the most effective learning environment?” I want to put the decisions in the hands of the actual stakeholders in education: these being the Students, Parents, and Teachers. They should define what quality education means for their community, not completely removed legislators in Raleigh.

Brandon, who represents Guilford County, which encompasses Greensboro, occupies an especially important post for someone intent on passing education reform legislation. As a member of the Finance Committee and the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee, Brandon wants to make changes to the state constitution to provide a truly high-quality education to every child:

As your representative I will champion an amendment to our state constitution that makes equality in education in North Carolina a constitutional right.

Quality education is critical to the future prosperity of our children. What this amendment will do is enable families, teachers, and students to have the legal backing to demand a quality education from our government. Currently, there is no remedy for the citizens of North Carolina to address failing schools, which is why it is so important that we amend our constitution to reflect our commitment to affordable, quality education. Education is too important to be neglected, which is why we need a State Representative who is serious about improving our schools, and putting Guilford families first.

And he's using his words to back up those efforts, as he is the primary cosponsor of House Bill 1104, which would create a scholarship tax credit program for students from low-income families to attend the public or private school of their parents’ choice.  With strong accountability standards and bipartisan support, the legislation is positioned to dramatically increase parental options for families across the state.

According to Brandon, here's why that's all so important:

“It has been a very hard road for me to travel ... but I had to be true to myself and true to my campaign promise that the representative from the 60th district will not allow you or anyone on either side to hold my kids hostages for your talking points.”

- American Federation for Children | Alliance for School Choice, MSG

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