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Former teacher union lobbyist comes out in support of school choice

Posted Tuesday, February 10, 2015

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Raleigh, NC - Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC) President Darrell Allison announced today that the organization is teaming up with former North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) Chief Lobbyist Brian Lewis to ensure all children have the opportunity to learn in an environment that works for them.

“Darrell and I have participated in many public forums and media interviews in which we’ve stood on opposing sides of parental school choice,” Lewis said. “But we’ve also had – over the past many years –honest, candid conversations about how we can improve the quality of education our children receive. I have also had real personal experience around this as well, and all of this has led me to believe that if we continue to take a ‘public schools only’ approach to education, we will continue to fail our children.”

For many years, Lewis has been an active and dogged opponent of school choice initiatives. However, his experience trying to find an academic environment in which his daughter can best thrive as well as his conversations with Allison have changed his perspective.

“After having to enroll my child in a private school, I now understand that private schools can play an important role in the education of our children,” he continued. “I have been and will continue to be a strong proponent of public education and of our public school teachers, but I do believe, as Darrell has stated on a number of occasions, that other alternative schools can work in unison with our public school system.”

Lewis served as the political director and chief lobbyist for the North Carolina Association of Educators for five years before opening last year his own firm, New Frame LLC, in Raleigh.

“This marks a turning point in the public conversation about education reform in North Carolina,” Allison said. “On behalf of PEFNC, I look forward to working with Brian and other current and former leaders in the public education establishment to have productive discussions and even create and shape policy that could better complement our public schools.”

“Our partnership in hosting future forums around the state represents a significant milestone in the parental school choice movement,” Allison said. “Usually when talking about this hot-button issue, advocates on both sides retreat to their staked-out positions and cut off discussion. Hopefully, more of our leaders, regardless of party affiliation or special interest, can begin to have more dialogue on how we can come together. At the end of the day, parents don’t really care what make or model a school happens to be; they just want an education that will work for their children. By coming together and placing children as the main focus, we have a better chance at providing them a ‘sound, basic education’ as mandated by our state’s constitution.”

Our announcement comes just one week before the state Supreme Court hears arguments regarding the constitutionality of the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The program is in the middle of its first year, and the court authorized in December the state to move forward with processing applications for the 2015-16 school year.

Read more about Brian Lewis’ journey from public school advocate to school choice supporter in his editorial, which was published today in The News & Observer:

About PEFNC: PEFNC is a statewide organization that supports greater educational options through parental school choice, such as the Opportunity Scholarship Program. Our mission is to inform parents of the benefits of expanded educational options and empower them to exercise freedom in meeting their children’s needs, regardless of race, national origin, income or religion. PEFNC envisions an education system that maximizes parental choice because children have unique needs and parents should have the freedom to choose the best education to meet those needs.

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Former teacher union lobbyist comes out in support of school choice
former North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE) Chief Lobbyist Brian Lewis
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