Hello and thank you for your time. My name is Paul Bonham, and I am running for Congress in the 12th District, which includes much of Mecklenburg county. I bring a unique perspective and proven skills: I am NOT an insider, swamp- dwelling politician. I made it by relentless prayer, good friends, family and hard work. I am a Christian, father, state-licensed English, math, science, and special ed. teacher, solar consultant, successful small business and multiple property owner. Growing up in a Navy family in Thailand, Hawaii, Canada, Italy, California, and Virginia, I learned family and faith values and business skills from two capable parents. I support small government, low taxes, strong military defense, family values, the sacredness of life, traditional marriage, privatized retirement accounts that are YOUR money, cutting politicians' salaries and putting that money toward better roads and reducing traffic, and ensuring that politicians live under the same laws as the rest of us do.
I began my own yard care business in middle school, achieved Eagle Scout in record time, am a recipient of the American Legion Good Citizenship Citation, won the Maryland Marathon (26.2 miles) in my age bracket, and served as treasurer, vice president, and president of my large high school youth group. Running my business from age 12, I developed a successful property management portfolio which financed both my college and graduate school education. Meanwhile I read the Bible cover to cover 7 times by age 18, and many times since, studied apologetics (reasons for faiths) and made a mature commitment to Christ at age 20, developing the simple but profound idea that Jesus is either a man who lied - claiming to be God - OR He is the risen Lord He claimed to be: The True Living God. There is no other option: Liar or Lord. I live with this deep conviction: "I received mercy for this reason, that in me, as the foremost sinner, the chief of sinners, Jesus Christ might display his perfect patience as an example to those who were to believe in Him for eternal life" (1 Timothy 1:16) and that "my (God's) power is make perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). I am a wretched sinner, saved by grace, with a heart and mind to serve others.
I graduated from the University of Virginia in under 3 years, carrying 27 credits in my final semester before completing my master’s degree by age 23 and then pursued substantial post master's education. I coached track and cross country, fielding the number 2 team in state 4A cross country in Oklahoma in 1991. Returning to the East Coast to teach in the Carolinas, I endured a dark time in my life during my initial years in North Carolina, and it has shaped my view of the need for reforms in the criminal justice system. Over 22 years ago, my children were in danger. My children were forced to witness the immorality of an adulterous relationship. I went to rescue them from this den of depravity. I went to protect and remove them, and a domestic dispute occurred. I was attacked and fought back to protect myself and my children. They were both twice my size, but unfortunately I won the fight. I was charged with assault with a deadly weapon (my hands, and no, I am not trained in any martial arts) inflicting serious injury, (2 felony charges, one on each of my attackers) and misdemeanor breaking and entering.
As a young teacher newly arrived in rural North Carolina, with limited means, I was forced to use a public defender who advised me to admit to a crime I didn't commit. Looking back, I realize I did not commit a crime because 3 separate State Teacher Licensing Boards found "no moral turpitude", no moral failure or flaw in my attempt to protect my children and defend myself that day. Because of my limited economic means, and being in the multi-generational home county of my attackers who had much influence in that rural county, it was less costly to accept the penalty of a crime I didn't commit than to defend myself in a court of law. Although I did not commit a crime, I agreed to suffer a penalty because I could not afford to defend myself in court. I was victimized by a system that may defend the rich and influential "home folk" while the poor and the new comer must accept the consequences of crimes of which they are not guilty. Because of this experience, I realize that people of limited means are sometimes victims of a system in which public defenders are overworked, and underpaid, and hence they may agree to a plea because they can't afford to fight it or appeal. This is what happened in my case. We must reform the system by devoting more resources to ensure the fair and effective representation of the poor in criminal courts.
By the grace of God, and the wisdom of these 3 State Teacher Licensing Boards, I was able to resume and complete my career educating children from 1996 to my retirement from teaching in 2016. I also became a certified Crisis Prevention Counselor working with troubled youth. My counseling and teaching career further enhanced and magnified my passion for caring for and protecting children. Operating homes with economical rooms for rent and volunteering at shelters and homes for unwed mothers, I have seen first hand the need to help people make a new start. I paid an terrible price for my actions that day. I served my sentence and realize even after over 22 years, some people won't let it go. I had to rebuild my life and my career as a licensed teacher. My own son majored in Criminal Justice, and is attempting a graduate program in Social Work and Counseling. We often discuss reforms that are proactive and fair.
I was a core teacher on the team at Challenger Early College High School in Hickory which set state records for having all students take and pass the End of Course tests (EOC) in both math and English. During 4 years 2005-2009, my classes of 100 students, the majority of whom were Hispanic and Hmong, and many not speaking English at home, posted 4 consecutive record-setting passing rates of 100%, 97%, 97% and 100%.
After teaching English, math, public speaking, writing and research, economics, history, and critical thinking for over 25 years in public school and college including UNC Charlotte, Johnson C. Smith University, University of Phoenix, Mitchell Community College, Rowan Cabarrus Community College, and Central Piedmont Community College, teaching as many as eleven courses at a time, while managing my lawn and property businesses, I was able to retire from teaching at age 54.
Within that year I became the top solar consultant for Energy Conservation Solutions, the largest residential solar company in the southeast. Providing solar energy with NO Up Front Costs, ECS (888-935-5505) also delivers solar hot water systems, new roofs, windows, batteries, and attic packages, cutting energy bills by 50% or more, utilizing tax credits and power company rebates. I am committed to wise stewardship, energy conservation, and independence.
Meanwhile, I obtained full custody of my 15 yr. old son who was struggling in school, failing classes. I set up a home school, licensed under the N.C. Dept of Public Instruction, and guided him to withdraw from public high school and begin college at age 15. My son successfully navigated the early transition into college, becoming a college senior at Belmont Abbey College (minutes west of Charlotte), by age 18 with over a 3.75 GPA. That's right, by the time his friends and former classmates were seniors in high school, he was a senior in college.
I have publicized ways to help high school students pay for and begin college early via the Early College High School programs, Dual Enrollment, and Career College Promise Program, esp. utilizing home school status. Students in 8th grade may apply for entrance in any of the state's many Early College High Schools and take high school and college courses during 9th-12th grade, earning dual credits and receiving free tuition. Students not accepted in these programs may, during their high school years, take courses at any public or private high school and simultaneously take courses at any community college and/or at Belmont Abbey College concurrently (704 461 6700). Again tuition is free. CPCC also participates in this program: 704 330-6637.
But there is an innovative 3rd way I pioneered. I set up a home school under the Office of Non Public Education (919-733-4276). Setting up a home school is quite easy and the materials available through Abeka Books, Bob Jones University, at Amazon.com, ebay.com, and braingenie.com and through the many home school support groups and websites make home schooling quite doable. But the real benefit to home schooling is that you can, as I did, have your child enroll in college at any age upon passing the community college's basic math and English entrance test. The NC DAP test is not difficult, and sample questions are on the internet. You as the home school principal can decide to enroll your child in part time or full time college classes, with free tuition, and count those classes toward high school graduation exactly as the Dual Enrollment mentioned previously. For example college history counts for both the college and high school history class. And you decide what classes are required for your student to graduate from your home high school. This dual crediting allows your child to earn college credits which count toward high school graduation, and complete high school material during the school year and/or summer times. Within a year or two your student can begin phasing out of community college classes, with as much as an Associate's Degree, and into a four year college such as Belmont Abbey College. Belmont Abbey has been spectacularly helpful and a great experience for my son with its small classes and caring, gifted faculty and administration. As long as your student has NOT graduated from high school, college tuition is free. And you, the parent/principal, decide when your child graduates. Upon graduation from high school, normal tuition rates apply, and you should consider the FAFSA financial aid programs (apply on the web) which provide both generous Pell Grants and student loans to fund the remaining college courses. FAFSA can also help adult learners complete college, providing approximately $5500 per year for 4 years.
Drawing upon decades of teaching and parenting, I authored "D.A.D. Stands for More than Dead Animal Disposer,"(available this Spring on Amazon, Ebay, and bookstores). The book is a fun, rhyming, poignant look at what Dads should do and be, (far more than just the guy who buries the family pet). This beautifully illustrated, humorous, thought-provoking book has material for ages 3 to 103, and it makes a great gift. The rhyming lyrics and dozens of colorful pictures both teach how to be a good father, and honor those who are good fathers. A portion of the proceeds from this book are gifted to no-kill rescue pet shelters, to the Marine Law Enforcement Foundation to care for children of fallen military and police service men and women, and Mira Via Home for unwed mothers and their children at Belmont Abbey College, and other similar facilities.