Rosemary Stein, M.D., Republican candidate for North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction, was interviewed in person by Kim Fink, Hal James, and Raynor James on February 29, 2016.
1) Name, address, phone, email?
Rosemary Stein, M.D.
336-212-1200 (cell), 336-570-0010 (office)
2105 Maple Avenue, Burlington, North Carolina, 27215
2) Educational Background? Experience? Demonstrations of Leadership?
I graduated from college, spent 4 years in medical school, and then 3 years in specialty training (pediatric medicine).
I speak 3 languages fluently, English, Spanish, and French.
I grew up in the Dominican Republic where my mother ran a school. In order to leave home, I had to walk through the school. First graders learned to read well. My job in high school was to help the first graders who were a little bit behind improve their reading skills.
During college and medical school, I had my own business teaching English as a second language. I taught between 10 and 20 children at a time. My mother’s school provided the classroom space.
My additional educational experience includes serving as a teaching professor at UNC, Wake Forest, and East Carolina University. Previous to that, I served as a professor at Duke.
Dave [Note: Rosemary’s husband, David, is also an M.D. who previously served in the Army’s 101st Airborne Division] and I have run our own pediatric medical practice for 16 years. We meet payroll first; we come last. We have a staff of 16 employees which includes 4 other physicians. We serve 5,000 patients who range in age from 0 to adulthood, about 20 or 21 years old. In spite of the decreases in income caused by the Affordable Care Act, managed care, and Medicaid, we are one of the few remaining private practices that has not joined a hospital group or other large group. We manage our own budget and take no subsidies or grant money.
Leadership is shown by running a proactive practice for 16 years that changes outcomes for students. We do this by conducting clinics for concerned parents. We teach them parenting skills and how to lead the family. We help them help their children finish high school, practice abstinence, and take responsibility for themselves. We’ve written a book, Common Sense II – A Parenting Revolution, to help share this information with parents.
Our practice is proactive, not reactive. Using our approach could save the state $350,000 to $450,000 per year by teaching young patients and their parents to be more active and self-sufficient, but so far, the state’s not interested.
) Memberships and Associations?
I’m a member of the Christian Medical & Dental Association. I write for them and am on the Leadership Board for the Triangle Chapter (the Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill areas).
I’ve dropped many medical boards because they’re too progressive.
I served for 2 years on the Hispanic Advisory and Education Committee under Governor McCrory.
I’ve served on the Alamance County Community College Board for 6 years and chaired the Curriculum Committee. The budget is about $30 million annually. I was instrumental in discovering what graduation numbers are for community colleges. Under 30% of the students graduate. When they arrive at a college, 50% to 60% of students need remediation. I pushed for answers and got them. They were very hard to come by for obvious reasons.
Craven is one of the better colleges in the system.
I also served on the Superintendent’s Graduation Task Force with June Atkinson, and got to see her finagle the numbers.
I was appointed by Phil Berger to serve on the Minority Health Council.
I’m a member of the Executive Committee and member of the Board of NC Smart Start. It’s a private and state funded project similar to Head Start. It has a $160 million annual budget. I hold a non-paid position. Smart Start was a Governor Jim Hunt endeavor. Originally, it was more for day care. I wanted the goal to be changed to helping the children become “school ready,” and it was necessary to involve and educate parents and educate the staff. The mission has changed to “school ready” which basically means that the child is paying attention, following directions, and exerting self-control.
4) Why are you running for this office?
I saw a chance to create change that will impact the lives of children and therefore the next generation of citizens. Right now, we’re not educating thinking citizens; we’re building a skilled labor force at best.
For a long time I felt we were supposed to create change in the lives of children. Former Executive Director of the NC GOP, Todd Poole, asked me to run for state-wide office. What I really wanted to do was talk to and educate parents. Then, I got a cold chill. I realized that serving as Superintendent of Public Instruction would give me the opportunity to talk to parents across North Carolina. It would give me the opportunity to do exactly what needed to be done.
I come from a family of educators in the Dominican Republic. We didn’t leave children behind. The methodology prevents that from happening. It takes the development of the child into account. Our system is broken, but it can be fixed.
5) What is the organizational structure of your campaign, fund raising capability, etc.?
I decided not to ask for money from any large organization that could profit from the schools. The contributions of individual people using their feet and voices to help are worth a lot of money. I wanted to keep it grassroots. I’ve asked for small contributions. The Lord will provide. When we had about $0, $500 came in.
6) Which of the Founding Fathers do you most admire?
George Washington. He was so tempered even though he was described as being a hothead in his youth. He took himself out of the conversation of where the country should go. He was God fearing and passionate, but held back his opinion.
For “true deeds,” I admire both John Adams (very passionate about the Lord) and George Washington.
For eloquence, I admire Thomas Jefferson. I admire Patrick Henry for passion. Abigail Adams is my favorite Founding Mother.
7) Margaret Thatcher once said, “Consensus is a lack of leadership.” Do you agree? Why or why not?
I don’t know the context in which she said it, but if you’re looking at polls and are overly concerned about whether we all agree, you’re not going to do what’s right. You’re not going to be an agent of change. The truth is the truth. If I get the job, I’ll have all sorts of arrows coming at me.
8) Which President do you most admire? Why?
Ronald Reagan after George Washington.
Because he was cradled in faith. He rose from a lowly, humble start. He knew he had been ordained to be an American leader. He did not let go of his goals and ideas.
9) Do you believe the Founding Fathers intended the Constitution to be:
a. An evolving document whose meaning changes with time?
b. permanent set of rules to limit the power of the federal government?
Unnumbered question) Discuss an ethical dilemma you faced. What happened?
I don’t think we have a problem with ethical dilemmas in our practice. Those sorts of things are easy decisions.
Do I pay myself, or do I take care of all my employees first? Not a tough decision.
An employee gets sick. Do I pitch a temper tantrum, or do I answer the phone or start taking vital signs? Again, not a tough decision.
10) Where do individual rights come from?
11) What do you know about Common Core? What is your position on it and why?
It’s developmentally inappropriate, unsound education that hard wires a child the wrong way. The fellow who wrote it has no educational experience, but made lots of money on it. We need to get rid of it ASAP. It’s a failure of natural law.
12) What is your opinion on gun ownership, registration, and gun free zones?
If I had my way, I’d make sure we had several concealed weapons people in every school.
The 2nd Amendment is meant to protect ourselves from the government, too.
13) What does the phrase “Separation of Church and State” mean to you?
Government can’t impose a religion on you. You’re free to worship as you please.
14) If elected, what would be your number one priority item during your term in office?
Remove Common Core. Replace it with classical education which is a logical way of educating, and the child ends up a thinker.
Also, push the legislature to cut federal ties that bind us. The federal government contributes a small amount of money (10%) which comes with huge strings that bind us. It provides 10% of the money and about 100% of the policy. I’m sure there will be those that announce that North Carolina will come to an end if we lose that funding, but the red tape and interference are counter to being able to educate children well.
If we can get rid of the federal government from education, I think we could make delivering education cheaper within 1 year.