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Tillis seeks to rewrite history

N.C. Republican Thom Tillis had the high ground in his U.S. Senate race last week – for about five seconds.

A top Democratic super PAC launched an ad against Tillis, attacking him over $19,000 in severance pay he awarded to two of his legislative staffers when they resigned in 2012 over inappropriate relationships with lobbyists.

The initial response from Tillis’ side rang true with many voters: Liberal Washington Democrats were meddling in North Carolina’s Republican primary because they saw him as the biggest threat to Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan in the general election. Then Tillis, the House speaker, took things a step too far.

He launched an ad in response that says: “Seen those ads attacking Thom Tillis? They’re false. Tillis fired the staffers.”

Uh-oh. The employees and Tillis himself said at the time they were resigning. News coverage repeatedly referred to the staffers’ resignations, not firings.

“Tillis has repeatedly described the departures of both staffers as resignations offered by the employees that he accepted,” a story in the (Raleigh) News & Observer said on May 17, 2012.

Tillis defended the severance payments as part of the “human side” of ending work. “Asked why employees who resigned would receive a month of additional pay, Tillis said: ‘I would hope people would think of these two who were in devastating personal situations,’” the N&O reported then.

Now he says he fired them. Is this the kind of twisting and spinning North Carolinians could expect from a Sen. Thom Tillis?

Report: N.C. PreK works

The benefits of North Carolina’s prekindergarten were highlighted again last week in a report from the University of North Carolina's Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.

The institute found that 4-year-olds in the program during the 2012-2013 made significant gains across all areas of learning including language and literacy skills, math skills, general knowledge, and social skills. Preschoolers with lower levels of English proficiency made greater gains on standardized tests than their peers for some skills, suggesting the program is especially beneficial for children who need more support in gaining English skills.

Maybe these results will get N.C. lawmakers to halt efforts to reduce investments in preschool and instead boost them. It took legal action for the legislature to back off changes that required co-payments from parents and capped enrollment for low-income youngsters. A reduction in income eligibility for prekindergarten is still in effect.

The Charlotte education advocacy group MeckED has made one of its policy goals for this year pushing the legislature to fully fund the N.C. Pre-K program so all at-risk children have the opportunity to access high-quality early learning curricula. Lawmakers should. The program works.

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