Monday, September 9, 2013

Senator Sam Ervin and the Schools

This past Saturday I had a chance to meet and greet several people on the old courthouse square, downtown Morganton. I sat behind (key word, behind, since that was a six hour rear view) the life size statue of Burke County's favorite son, Senator Sam Ervin of the Watergate hearings fame. I watched as the crowds milled around him, rubbed his hand, patted him on the back as if they were reconnecting with an old friend.
Appreciating Senator Sam with my friend Martha

I understand their emotions. I ran across his name and his picture countless times during my research process, so often in fact, even though I never met him in person, I could have recognized this man's image without the inscriptions surrounding it. To the world, he was the "country lawyer" that maintained a semblance of order during a trying time in our country's history. To the Burke County people, he was the "city lawyer" they called upon when they needed legal assistance. Now there's a lesson to be learned in perception.

Sam ErvinIn January of 1947, the teachers in the area, including those at Pilot Mountain School, asked this former congressman and yet to be senator to represent their interests in what became known as the South Piedmont Proposal. These underpaid, underappreciated, underfunded classroom teachers needed an advocate, one familiar with state government, one who believed in fairness and education and working through the system. They found exactly what they were looking for, although the forty percent raise in the proposal didn't materialize. But this school bell could not be unrung, Sam Ervin's words could not be unsaid and the groundwork was laid for further talks.

Now in 2013 the teachers of the great state of North Carolina once again are needing an advocate, one who is familiar with state government, who believes in fairness and education. They've tried working through the system. That failing, they've resorted to a summer of moral Monday demonstrations, calling upon the state legislature to step up, wake up, and be aware of what the recent drastic funding cuts will mean to the children in public schools.

These current legislators need to spend a few hours watching the crowds appreciate their country lawyer. Lessons Learned.

Catch of the day,


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