All six Democratic congressional candidates in North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District will appear at a candidate forum in Marshall on July 29, but one’s prepared to stake out some turf with a position paper on a subject he knows all too well.
“I am the product of the North Carolina public school system,” said Eric Gash in a release sent exclusively to The Smoky Mountain News. “I can confidently say that I would not be where I am today without our state’s public education system.”
Gash serves as principal of the Henderson County public school he once attended, taught math at Hendersonville High School, and graduated from the University of North Carolina. His wife Katy teaches at Henderson Middle School, and all three of their children have or will have graduated from one of North Carolina’s public universities.
Among Gash’s priorities are universal pre-K and significant increases to K-12 funding. He’d like to give students more opportunities to refinance student loan debt, and more access to federal Pell grants.
“We should also look to offer free tuition at our community colleges as well as expand the Department of Education apprenticeship program to help train the next generation of high-skilled tradesmen,” he said. “And while I am not in favor of offering tuition-free 4-year college, I am in favor of young people being able to achieve debt relief through national service programs such as Americorps, Peace Corps, and Teach for America, all things that would serve Western North Carolina especially as we work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Gash also wants teachers to receive more competitive salaries, and wants to strengthen the Every Student Succeeds Act so students receive more individualized attention.
And regarding an issue that transcends education – broadband – Gash says students in urban districts have an advantage over their rural peers due to a technology gap.
“We need to have a 1:1 student to electronic device ratio in all of our public schools,” he said. “Whether or not your parents can afford a laptop or tablet should not stand in the way of a student’s ability to learn in the 21st century.”
In addition to Gash, fellow Democratic candidates Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Josh Remillard, Bo Hess, Jay Carey and Katie Dean are scheduled to appear at the forum, hosted by the Madison County Democrats. For more information, visit www.madisoncountydemsnc.org.