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Teacher pens open letter, op-ed defending public education

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 10:01
Forsyth County high school teacher Stuart Egan has a couple of “must reads” you should check out this morning. Number One is this open letter from the main N.C. Policy Watch site to State Rep. Paul Stam in which he dissects some of Stam’s recent comments about what’s needed in our public schools. Here’s Egan ...

The rich are still getting richer: More amazing stats

Wed, 02/03/2016 - 07:42
This month’s amazing infographic from the good people at and their project Too Much Online is entitled “Tracking Our World’s Relentless Rich.” Read it and, hopefully, be moved to action:

New research: Voter suppression tactics really work

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 17:05
As North Carolinians await a verdict in the federal court case challenging their state’s voter suppression laws, a new national study confirms what common sense tells us: these laws really do work to depress the vote. Scott Keyes at Think Progress has the story: “For years, researchers warned that laws requiring voters to show certain ...

DPI explains looming shift of education powers from federal government to the states

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 13:46
Although it was overshadowed by Sen. Chad Barefoot’s angst over unverified reports of the misuse of state education dollars, Tuesday’s session of the Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee included an explanation of last year’s federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). That legislation, passed with support from both Democrats and Republicans, is intended to update the widely criticized No ...

Senator grills DPI chief June Atkinson over GOP allegations of misusing funds

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:41
One day after the state Senate leader accused North Carolina’s top education administrators of misusing funds budgeted for reading programs, N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson responded to an aggressive line of questioning about the controversy. Atkinson was discussing the federal government’s update of No Child Left Behind in the legislature’s Joint Legislative Education ...

There’s a reason providing teachers a meaningful raise is seen as unrealistic

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 11:26
State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson recently proposed a 10 percent pay increase for public school teachers. In response, NC House Speaker Moore stated informed that he doesn’t think that’s a realistic goal because North Carolina can’t afford the price tag. Speaker Moore says he believes we must pay our teachers more than we ...

Second Racial Justice Act attorney cleared of alleged ethics violations

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 10:23
The North Carolina State Bar has reversed a prior panel ruling and cleared attorney Cassandra Stubbs of ethics violations alleged to have occurred during her representation of death row inmate Marcus Robinson in his Racial Justice Act challenge. Stubbs is the second of Robinson’s attorneys to have her name cleared, after charges were lodged against her and ...

It’s McCrory’s coal ash now, but the signs about what he’ll do with it aren’t encouraging

Tue, 02/02/2016 - 07:41
The Greensboro News & Record has a good editorial this morning in which it lauds the state Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the General Assembly’s overreach in its turf battle with the Governor over control of the state coal ash commission. But the editorial concludes with this warning to the Guv: “It’s the governor’s ...

Revenue bump doesn’t mean NC has what’s needed to meet growing needs

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 14:50
News that revenue is up in North Carolina doesn’t mean that we have what is needed to meet our state’s growing needs. In fact, total state revenue for the second quarter of fiscal year 2016 was below the level of revenue raised for the same period prior to the end of the Great Recession, fiscal ...

56 years after Greensboro sit ins, racial justice remains important issue

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 13:50
It’s been 56 years since the sit ins in my hometown of Greensboro energized the civil rights movement in the U.S. Since then, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 made it possible for de facto segregation to stop in places like lunch counters and other public accommodations, banned employment discrimination, and it began the process ...

Report pans virtual charter performance in Idaho

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 12:02
Last month, we reported on the troubling withdrawal rates reported in North Carolina’s pilot program for virtual charter schools, including the news that these online programs, led by for-profit companies, are not required to return their public funding despite dropouts. Coupled with longtime reports of poor academics in virtual charters across the country, public education ...

Two great editorials decry the disinvestment in our teachers and schools

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 08:45
Raleigh’s News & Observer has featured two outstanding editorials on the subject of public education in recent days. Number One  is in this morning’s paper and it’s entitled “Sorry teachers, your raises went elsewhere.” To quote: “Republicans, even in a time of economic recovery, work on a tight budget because their priority is giving tax ...

Last week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Mon, 02/01/2016 - 06:01
1. Controversial plan to allow for-profit charter school takeovers of low-performing NC schools re-emerges Achievement school districts may be reporting mixed numbers in other states, but the controversial reform model—which could effectively turn over management of low-performing public schools, including hiring and firing powers, to for-profit charter operators—seems bound for a pilot program in North ...

Independents and Republicans in NC support closing the coverage gap

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 12:30
A new poll from the nonpartisan organization NC Child shows that a large majority of North Carolinians support closing the health insurance coverage gap that was created when the Governor and legislature declined to use available federal funds to expand Medicaid eligibility. This support extends to Independents and Republicans. The poll found that overall 72 percent ...

State Supreme Court backs governors in commission appointments case

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 11:46
Saying that the General Assembly violated the separation of powers clause of the state constitution when it empowered lawmakers to make appointments to commissions that performed largely executive functions, the state Supreme Court today backed the governors who challenged what they called a usurpation of power by the legislature. The battle between the branches of ...

No choice voting

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 11:15
Perhaps you haven’t been paying much attention yet to the upcoming election cycle, but here’s a fact that every voter who cares about the state of democracy in North Carolina should know. In almost a third of North Carolina’s 170 legislative districts, only one candidate has filed to run for an open seat — meaning ...

These two graphs show why June Atkinson is right and Tim Moore is wrong about teacher pay

Fri, 01/29/2016 - 07:28
As reported here on Wednesday by N.C. Policy Watch Education Reporter Billy Ball, North Carolina Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson is calling for state teachers to receive a 10% raise. Yesterday, in response, House Speaker Tim Moore shot down the idea, saying it was unrealistic. Here, in two simple graphs, is an explanation of ...

Noted economist: For true ‘Carolina Comeback’ North Carolina must focus on investments (video)

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 15:00
Governor Pat McCrory and other state leaders continue to tout the Carolina Comeback, their name for the economic recovery in the state. But the numbers tell a different story with workers earning less and many people in rural counties unable to find a job at all. Economist Jared Bernstein, a Senior Fellow at the Center ...

Vanderbilt education researcher talks the middling numbers of achievement school districts

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 14:37
North Carolina lawmakers may be likely to pursue legislation this year to install a pilot program for an achievement school district among the state’s lowest-performing schools. But on Thursday, one of the nation’s leading researchers on the controversial reform method—which could turn over management of troubled schools to for-profit, charter operators—delivered data to a handful of ...

ICYMI: Tom Jensen discusses where things stand in 2016

Thu, 01/28/2016 - 13:15
With the 2016 election campaign already well underway and early voting for the March 15 North Carolina primary scheduled to commence March 3, Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling catches us to speed on where things stand and what’s likely to happen both on the state and national level.