Justin Ashley, a Charlotte-Mecklenburg teacher who last year wrote an open letter to House Speaker Thom Tillis, is now featured in an ad for Tillis's U.S. Senate opponent, Democrat Kay Hagan.
A year ago, Ashley wrote to Tillis in the form of an op-ed in the Observer. In it, he explained how he had benefited from a North Carolina Teaching
Fellows Scholarship, a program the legislature ended. He implored Tillis to keep it.
"I feel like I’m doing what I was born to do. I come from a low-income family, so this scholarship gave me the opportunity to go to college to become a teacher," he says in the new Hagan ad. " “This is an opportunity that no teacher will ever have again in this state. That scholarship, it was eliminated
under the last budget because of the cuts from Mr. Tillis.”
Like the other ads in the series, he says Tillis "has taken the money we need for our schools and given it to billionaires."
That's an allusion to last year's tax cuts, which Republicans credit with boosting the economy while Democrats say disproportionately benefit the wealthy.
Ashley, who won N.C. teacher of
the year honors last year, is one of four people -- including a Charlotte student -- featured in four separate Hagan ads about education.
Says Tillis spokesman Daniel Keylin: "Kay Hagan is hitting the panic button and running a negative campaign because she can’t defend her record of voting with Obama’s failed liberal agenda 95 percent of the time. ... Thom Tillis cut taxes and created opportunities for every North Carolinian taxpayer, which has helped middle-class families struggling under the Obama-Hagan economy get back on their feet. Under Thom’s leadership, education funding has increased every year, and teachers recently received historic 7 percent average pay raises."