Tuesday, February 27, 2024

New Hanover County Primaries 2024: Natosha Tew seeks board of education seat

Natosha Tew is running for the New Hanover County School Board against four other Republican candidates in the primaries. (Courtesy photo)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — 2024 is a presidential election year but also one that impacts numerous local boards — such as county commissioners and education districts in the tri-county region.

READ MORE: Here is who filed for the 2024 elections

Republican candidate Natosha Tew, who works as a general manager and is the founder of the local chapter of Moms for Liberty, is running for one of three seats on the New Hanover County Board of Education. In the primary election, Tew is running against four other Republicans — David Perry, Nikki Bascome, Kimberly McDuffie Murphy and Aubrey Tuell. The primary will take place March 5.

A first-time school board candidate, Tew told PCD she is running “to finish the job that New Hanover County citizens elected the four conservative candidates to do in 2022.”

“It has become apparent that it will take more than a four to three majority to fire the current superintendent, dismantle DEI, protect Parent’s Rights and give our children an America First education,” Tew said.  

Her stances on issues are discussed below. All answers are included in full; responses are edited only for grammar, spelling and clarity.

Port City Daily has compiled candidate questionnaires so voters can read up on contenders’ stances before heading to the polls. The paywall is dropped on profiles to help voters make informed decisions ahead of casting their ballots.

Voters will choose which candidates from their registered party they want to move forward in the formal election — or those who are registered unaffiliated can choose which party’s primary they want to vote in. After the March 5 primaries, Election Day will be Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024; a valid photo ID will be needed to cast a ballot in both. 

Anyone not registered to vote can partake in same-day registration, available throughout the early voting period, Feb. 15 – Mar. 2. Check here to see if your registration is active at your current address.

Early voting in New Hanover County takes place at various locations: Northeast Regional Library (1241 Military Cutoff Rd.) in the David E Paynter Room, Carolina Beach Town Hall (1121 N. Lake Park Blvd.) in the police training room, CFCC Health Sciences Building (415 N. 2nd St.) and NHC Senior Resource Center (2222 S. College Rd.) 

Early voting stops are open Feb. 15-16, 19-23, 26-29 and March 1, 8 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., noon to 5 p.m. on Feb. 24-25, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on March 2. 

Below is a breakdown of dates to expect ahead of the primary election:

  • Jan. 19, 2024: County boards of elections begin mailing absentee ballots to eligible voters who submitted an absentee ballot request form.
  • Feb. 9, 2024: Voter registration deadline (5 p.m.).*
  • Feb. 15, 2024: In-person early voting begins.
  • Feb. 27, 2024: Absentee ballot request deadline (5 p.m.).*
  • March 2, 2024: In-person early voting ends (3 p.m.).
  • March 5, 2024: Primary Election Day.
  • March 5, 2024: Absentee ballot return deadline (7:30 p.m.).*

Tew’s questionnaire is below; all candidate’s opinions and statements are not a reflection of Port City Daily. 

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Port City Daily (PCD): What is the current board of education getting right? Wrong? 

NT: Dissolving the DEI committee was a great decision. However, I was extremely disappointed with the school board’s decision in August 2023 to renew Dr. Foust’s contract for another three years.

PCD: If elected, what is the top issue you want to tackle?

NT: I would end woke education and hold administrators accountable for their blatant disregard of the community’s wishes and school board’s authority. To be clear, Dr. Foust and Dr. Faison need to be removed for their attempt to close the Career Readiness Program at Moseley High School, so they could convert the facility into a so-called “Newcomer School.” That’s a polite term for a refugee center, where “wrap-around services” — meaning welfare — are provided at our expense.

Foust and Faison hid this plan from the community and the school board for three years! That is reason enough to fire them. They presented this plan as a done deal at the January board policy meeting, just weeks before implementation, around the same time they notified parents that they would have to move their kids to different schools. Going around the board this way is a clear violation of protocol and duty as outlined in NCGS 115-C. This alone is grounds for termination. 

Foust has since backed off the plan, but only due to massive community pressure. I played a large part in this myself. But where was the board? They should have been the first to stand up against this plan.

The fact that Foust and Faison thought it would be OK to radically transform our community without consulting either the public or any other governing body in New Hanover County should make people’s blood boil. I am not overstating this: Dr. Faison modeled her plan on the Newcomer Schools program in Greensboro, which has turned Greensboro into a refugee hub. 

Is that what we want? Do we have the right to be asked? Foust and Faison have usurped the authority of the school board, the county commissioners, and the citizens of New Hanover County. I will hold them accountable immediately upon taking office. It’s time to take back control from out-of-control bureaucrats.

PCD: In December, the board voted to dissolve the equity, diversity and inclusion committee. Do you agree with this decision, and what is your plan, outside of reestablishing or opposing the committee, to promote inclusivity and ensure every child has the resources they need to succeed?  

NT: I was extremely pleased with the board’s decisions to dissolve the EDI committee. I believe it to be a waste of time, resources, and tax-payer’s money.

I’m sorry to say this question is misleading, and Port City Daily reveals its bias by not defining what “inclusivity,” means in the context of woke education. It does not mean “inclusion.” Which means, “fairness,” or “equality of opportunity,” to most of us. Those are core American values that have made this country great.

“Inclusivity,” means, “equality of outcomes,” and results in disastrous policies like the “50 to 100” grading system that was briefly instituted as a way of making sure underachieving students didn’t fail. It’s no surprise that lowering standards failed to raise standards, and the program was scrapped. 

Right now schools want to distribute outcomes from the top down. The result is we are not teaching our children how to achieve the outcomes they want through their own hard work — which is the whole purpose of public education. 

“Inclusivity” is Marxist jargon that comes out of the critical theory that is behind every initiative that comes out of our school administration from the state level on down. That includes, DEI, SEL, CRT, etc. If we want to ensure every child has the resources they need, let’s cut all these programs, fire their employees, and put the money we save into educational initiatives. 

For instance, I would like to see a program that ensures every New Hanover County student has a firm understanding of the Constitution before entering high school. If that seems like a lofty goal, good. We should re-establish lofty goals for our students.

PCD: A 2023 space needs study concluded NHCS needs significant capital projects and repairs to accommodate its current student population. However, other analyses by the county show the district could better distribute students across its facilities, indicating a redistricting is needed, and the student population is expected to level off and decrease in the future. Where do you stand on addressing potential growth and the district’s capital needs? What projects do you think the district should prioritize?

NT: I would prioritize the cleanliness and safety of our current facilities. Exposure to toxic mold has been a huge issue in other counties, and is the type of thing that our school boards should be vigilant about. Our students must have a physically healthy environment. If that includes making more space in some schools, it seems to me that letting the current students suffer while we wait for “projections” to pan out is irresponsible.

I don’t think we have to choose between building out more space and moving students to different schools. If we allow students more flexibility in choosing where they go to school, we can save the forced inconvenience of redistricting. I am wary of redistricting solutions, because they are often used as means of achieving redistribution of outcomes, which I absolutely oppose.

We should treat our parents and students as partners, and share the burden of the cost-benefit analysis with them. Once students are in the schools that are the best fit for them, we should then make the improvements necessary to accommodate them safely. 

If we establish a record of taking care of the students who are in our schools now, we may well attract more students in the future. Current projections, unfortunately, are based on the consequences of poor leadership and poor results. We have lost a lot of revenue because we’ve lost a lot of students. Let’s improve our leadership and our results, grow our schools, and attract the revenue we need for improvements.

PCD: Since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, the school district has been grappling with a return to more rigid, and in some views inadequate, processes highlighted by pandemic flexibility. These issues — calendar law, budget cycle, allotment funding — often stem from the state level. What is your view on these topics, do you think they should be changed and how would you plan to do so?  

NT: I believe it is best for most if not all decisions relating to schools to be made at the most local level. We know best what we need in our own community, and the School Board is empowered, by law, to take the lead in shaping local policy to fit local needs. We need School Board members who will use that power.

PCD: Do you think the district is adequately staffed?

NT: No.

PCD: What positions would you like to see prioritized and/or deprioritized, especially in light of the district having to make significant cuts to next year’s budget?

NT: I would eliminate all DEI positions to stop poisoning our children’s minds. I would expand the number of SROs, to make our children and staff more physically safe.

PCD: What should the board do to create a better working environment for its employees?

NT: Teachers should be immediately relieved of all tasks that do not serve the subject they teach. I am speaking of things like daily, “SEL Mental Health Check-Ins,” which have been part of homeroom periods in our schools. These waste valuable teacher time, and like all woke indoctrination, are harmful to our kids. Let’s give our teachers more time to teach.

For all staff, and all students, we need higher standards of discipline, which need to be equally applied. This goes directly to the safety of staff and students, and to the ability of staff to maintain focus and teach.

PCD: Many districts, including NHCS, have been experiencing issues with student discipline. NHCS is also unique in its struggle with discriminatory discipline practices against Black students per a federal sanction. Do you think changes should be made to the way the district disciplines students, and if so, how?

NT: There is no excuse for applying different standards of discipline to different students based on their race, or any other differences in background. That is discrimination by definition, it should not be tolerated in any public institution, and anyone who tries to justify it is an apologist for discrimination. We must hold all our students to the same standard of behavior; and we must raise the current standard of behavior among all our students.

I’m setting aside the discussion of the federal sanction because I want to discuss what we can and can’t do about the behavior problem in our schools — what are the solutions? Let me say from the outset that we must face a difficult fact: There are no pain-free solutions. But that is a fact of discipline. No discipline is not an option.

Of course, this is being framed as an equity issue. The argument goes like this: “If one group is receiving more discipline than another, that represents a structural injustice, so we must redistribute discipline, and lower standards for one group and raise them for another.” 

If you’re feeling very uncomfortable reading this, that is the effect that framing this as an equity issue is meant to produce. It’s meant to divide us. But we’re not divided.

No one in this country is unaware of this country’s historical injustices, particularly slavery. No one is happy about persistent inequities in outcomes for minority communities, particularly Blacks. But the question is: “Are the schools mandated or able to fix the broad societal problems that are, in part, the product of our history?” The answer is, “No.” And the stunning failures of woke education are the best evidence for that.

What can we do? We can provide more opportunities for our students of every background to succeed. We can solve a lot of our discipline problems by giving students who cannot or will not conform to a traditional classroom setting an opportunity to prepare themselves for life after school in non-traditional settings. For instance, we should be expanding programs like the Career Readiness Program at Moseley High School. We should empower kids who in this generation may have a disadvantage in the classroom to earn a living and be self-sufficient so that their kids can have more options. We used to call this, “The American Dream.” 

But instead Foust and the other Wokesters want to shut down a program that serves primarily Hispanic students whose parents are taxpayers, so they can bring in non-citizens who will be an immediate burden on the community. Didn’t someone say burdens on the community fall most heavily on those who are already underserved? That tells you how much the Wokesters actually care about American minorities.

I care about all American kids. All kids need discipline, and those who struggle with discipline the most usually need a sense of purpose and strong, caring authority figures in their lives. Trade schools, military training programs, internships at tech companies are all avenues that we should engage to help these kids succeed even if they have failed in regular schools because of their behavior. We must allow our kids to fail — and that includes expulsion for students who are serious repeat offenders. But at the same time we must also provide them a second chance after they have failed.

PCD: Since the last board election, the topic of parental rights has influenced discussions, including over curriculum, library materials, surveys and medical care. Where do you think the balance lies between parent and school staff responsibility over a student’s education, particularly in these areas? 

NT: You know, it’s stunning to me that with all the hand-wringing about schools being understaffed and not having enough resources, that the desire of parents to get involved is being presented as a controversy. It’s not. It’s a no-brainer.

Ask anyone: “Should parents be involved in their kids’ lives?” Everyone knows the answer. It is uncontroversial, common-sense, and backed up by every data set ever produced on the subject: Kids do better with parents who are involved.

Only in the realm of public education do our public officials and their mouthpieces in the press pretend that this is controversial — to the extent that the justice department labels angry parents at school board meetings “domestic extremists.” I defy every public official who says so, from Biden and Garland, all the way down to Foust and Faison. You mistreat my child, I have every right to be angry. Period.

Here’s the news: Parents give their children into the care of schools to educate them. That means to prepare them to have successful careers, and to be responsible, engaged citizens. Schools work for the parents within that limited role and should not exceed that role.

If I gave my child into the care of a babysitter and returned home to find she had been showing my child pornography, I would fire her. If my child told me that she had been regularly physically bullied by other children while under the care of the babysitter, I would fire her, and depending on the severity of the harm done, I would consider legal action. If I found out the babysitter was filling my child’s head with lies about America and racist propaganda, I would fire the babysitter and post a warning about her on every online review forum.

But the flip side of saying the schools have wildly overstepped their authority is to acknowledge that we as parents, and as a community, have failed to be as involved as we should be. We have assumed for too long that our children were being well-cared for and responsibly educated in our schools. But ask yourself: “Are our kids safer, better educated, more well-adjusted than they were a few years ago?” 

If the answer is “no,” then we need to get more involved — either at home, in extracurricular activities, or at school board meetings. We all have to do better because letting the schools do everything has been a disaster.

The schools should welcome getting rid of duties that are outside their ability and authority to provide, and should welcome engaged, passionate parents, who are the greatest untapped resource any school district has. 

Here’s a tip: Don’t trust anyone who says parents are the problem.  

PCD: The board has discussed different ways to hold each other accountable, such as a code of ethics policy, and ways to make the board more efficient, such as adding agenda review meetings. Do you think the board should be doing more to promote civil and efficient discussion? If so, what actions would you propose to accomplish this?

NT: Civil discourse should be conducted civilly, of course. But the board’s problem is not how it discusses issues; the board’s problem is that it refuses to take the actions it is empowered to take by the North Carolina Constitution in order to solve the problems this county’s schools face. First of all, the board needs to start holding the administration accountable — not each other — that is its number one duty! It is the job of the citizens to hold the board accountable at the ballot box. Let’s not cut the citizens out of the loop.

This “Code of Ethics” sounds like it will be designed to have a chilling effect on free speech. “More meetings” sounds like fewer public discussions. No thanks. 

Let me restate the obvious here: The reason free speech is our most fundamental freedom is that we can’t solve problems we can’t talk about. That is why unpopular speech, speech that might make people upset, is the most important speech to protect. Difficult problems sometimes result in heated discussion and slow decision-making. That is a feature, not a bug, of democratic processes.

The solution is not to create a set of rules that will silence uncomfortable discussion by punishing board and community members for “unacceptable speech.” Let people speak. The solution is to vote for adults who will confront and handle difficult problems.

Have tips or comments? Email info@portcitydaliy.com

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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