One of the more legitimate critiques about the NCAE teacher strike/rally in Raleigh on May 1 was its overtly partisan nature. Rev. William Barber’s usual demagoguery of anything not akin to his brand of government largesse was fitting for their finale. None of this is shocking given their initial logo of a raised fist that has strong ties to socialist and Marxist labor movements throughout history. I was at the rally and can certainly attest to the partisan nature of the event. There seemed to be an added angst and anger to the more diverse and somewhat celebratory event that occurred last year.
Given all that, I’m fascinated by a little tidbit that was revealed on the Pete Kaliner Show in Asheville. In an interview with NC State Treasurer Dale Folwell on May 1, Folwell brought up the fact that he asked to speak at the rally to update teachers on the state of their pension and health plans. He cited one of the main reasons for this is the fact that there is “a lot of misinformation” floating around about the plans. “I wanted to tell them what the real status of these plans were but the invitation was not extended,” said Folwell. He again reinforced that he inquired about an invitation to speak and was denied.
“I’m the keeper of the public purse and inside that purse is money that belongs to everybody, especially teachers. They deserve to know what’s going on with their healthcare and pension,” added Folwell. I’d certainly want to at least hear the man out if I was a teacher, but the leadership of the event wouldn’t allow it.
He says they didn’t let him speak because “it doesn’t fit the narrative.” In the interview, Folwell notes that some states face laying off teachers in the near future just to make pension payments because of the crisis of unfunded liabilities. Presumably, Folwell is working to sound the alarm so this is never a decision that has to be made in North Carolina.
If anybody has heard Folwell speak, whether you agree with his message of responsible stewardship of the public purse or not, he’s far from bombastic or overtly partisan. His style is more measured and many view him as a civic educator on the true cost of our state obligations.
Folwell could have given much-needed credibility to the NCAE if they accepted his request to speak. If it was not a partisan event, why was his request denied? We know the reasons, of course, but it was a missed opportunity for the NCAE to show the event was not only about electing liberal Democrats who will merely rubber stamp an expensive agenda, and more importantly to them, one that is ultimately unaccountable.