Smith kept to his business background by saying children are customers of the education system, adding that money should halt for programs that aren't working.
"We need to encourage vocational education," Smith said.
Murmurs spread through the audience after Smith suggested that home-schooled children should be able to participate in extracurricular activities at local public schools.
"My message stays the same," he said later, acknowledging that many crowd members weren't thrilled about the idea. "I'm not going to pander to any group."
I'm not anxious for extracurricular access; it would require the state to cajole or compel the N.C. High School Athletic Association to change its rules, for one thing, and NCHSAA is a private non-profit membership organization. There are several things wrong with the state stepping in like that.
Other extracurriculars like music programs, academic clubs, and the like, are up to the local districts or individual principals, which is probably the best alternative; while places like Raleigh and Charlotte usually have a wide range of programs particularly aimed at homeschoolers, there are places in the state where options aren't available. Frankly, I would guess that adding some interested homeschoolers (as well as private school students) into the program would strengthen some of the public school clubs, too, since those same counties are likely to have fewer alternatives or participants in their school system as well.
However, hats off to Sen. Smith for being willing to stand and say it not just in front of the media, but in a group that was very likely to be hostile.
Oh, and the suggestion of turning off the money tap ... didn't that draw a murmur or two? WRAL didn't mention it if it did.