ASHEVILLE – Buncombe County GOP Chairman Carl Mumpower elicited an outburst from a crowd of roughly 100 people when he said at a debate that people “should stop treating teachers like prostitutes.”
Mumpower, who was arguing that teachers enter the profession not for money but to help children, squared off against N.C. Sen. Jeff Jackson in a roughly 90-minute debate on state funding of education Saturday in the carpeted auditorium of Vance Elementary School.
Jackson spoke passionately for the state to spend more money, specifically citing community college and apprenticeship funding, early childhood education and teacher pay as issues that needed to be addressed. Jackson also said North Carolina had a moral obligation to help lift children out of poverty and an economic obligation to educate students for new jobs that will be unaffected by what he called the “automation tsunami.”
Mumpower argued against the funding increase, saying that money “wasn’t even in the top five” ways to fix education. He argued for fixes to underlying issues such as poverty, the criminal justice system, mental heath problems, political correctness and government intrusion into the classroom.
Jackson and Mumpower spent much of the debate discussing teacher training and compensation.
Jackson said the lack of compensation was dissuading potential teachers from pursuing the profession in North Carolina, citing statistics saying enrollment had decreased by 40 percent at the state’s education colleges.
“It used to be that opportunities for women were very limited — you could be a nurse, a secretary or a teacher,” Jackson said in the debate. “Now that’s not the case and that’s great. Women are pursuing careers in which they will be valued, but this has had a result on our number of teachers.”
Mumpower attributed the shortage to other factors such as teacher’s lack of autonomy in classroom, arguing that unions and other bureaucracies played too large a role, saying schools were becoming “prisons of conformity.”
Jackson also criticized the Republican legislature for $3 billion in tax cuts that he said would be better spent on programs like professional development for teachers. Jackson also said the state was forced to chose less qualified candidates because of its lack of compensation.
“Where I live in in Mecklenburg County, some schools are advertising for teachers on Craigslist,” Jackson said. “That’s not the best place to be drawing candidates from.”
A large portion of the debate focused on early childhood education, which Jackson said was critical to childhood development citing statistics that said 60 percent of children could not read by age 8.
Mumpower rebutted Jackson’s argument by pointing to poor home conditions to explain the statistic. Mumpower also attacked public housing neighborhoods and cultural norms allowing for drug use and casual sex, saying they caused the corruption of children and higher minority dropout rates.
“We are treating this like a first-degree burn when it is in fact a third-degree burn,” Mumpower said in the debate. “You can rub Vaseline on it as much as you want, but it’s not going to help fix the issue.”
Jackson said early childhood programs would help improve the dropout rates by preventing students from lagging in the early g
rades. Jackson also cited further statistics showing that children who couldn’t read by age 8 were less likely to graduate from high school, college and community college.
Much of the crowd seemed to support Jackson throughout the debate and took several opportunities to shout at Mumpower while at one point giving Jackson a standing ovation.
Despite the fervent disagreement, the two men were able to find some areas of common ground on criminal justice reform and the value of the public education both men received.
Mumpower is a Vietnam veteran and holds master’s degrees from Western Carolina University and the University of Georgia and a Ph.D. from Union Institute. He previously served a City Council member and vice mayor and is now a practicing psychologist and chairman of the Buncombe County Republican Party.
Jackson enlisted in the Army Reserves and served in the Kandahar province in Afghanistan after 9/11. He went on to attend UNC Chapel Hill School of Law. He is a Democratic state senator representing Mecklenburg County. He continues to serve his country in the Army JAG corps.
The debate is the first after Mumpower issued a pledge to debate any public issue at a debate organized by political or neighborhood groups. Mumpower said he has accepted three other debate invitations so far, from local groups involved in climate change and marijuana issues and a Young Democrats group in Winston-Salem.
Mumpower’s challenge comes with a $100 donation to the charity of his opponents’ choice. Jackson’s office said he has chosen Buncombe Partnership for Children, a nonprofit that works to improve pre-K education and health in the county, and will match it with another $100.
Read or Share this story: http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/politics/2017/08/05/mumpower-jackson-debate-state-education-funding/542798001/