NC JUSTICE NEWS: Achievement School District Bill + Budget/Legislative Roundup + HB2 Remains Intact

July 15, 2016

ACHIEVEMENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: Justice Center calls on McCrory to veto bill

The North Carolina Justice Center called on Governor McCrory this week to veto the Achievement School District bill, House Bill 1080, which would harm low-performing schools.

“We agree that North Carolina must live up to the unfulfilled constitutional promise that students in low-performing schools have the opportunity to obtain a sound basic education,” the letter to the Governor reads. “However, rather than meet this mandate, the creation of an ASD would hamper this ability. The data presented by researchers to the legislature clearly demonstrated that ASDs have not improved student performance in other states using the prescriptive model of the state taking over local schools and turning them over to charter school operators."

An “Achievement School District” (ASD) is comprised of five schools chosen from the bottom 25 percent of schools across the state that would either be closed entirely or turned over to charter school operators that are not required to be non-profits and may be located out of state. These operators do not have experience running this type of school, as they are generally prepared to run schools that open from scratch rather than take over existing ones with established attendance zones.

The ASD model is premature as districts have not yet had the opportunity to implement recent legislation that requires the identification of low-performing schools and creation of plans to improve school performance and school growth scores. Low-performing schools are making progress under TALAS (Turning Around North Carolina’s Lowest-Achieving Schools), the state’s existing program designed to improve struggling schools. TALAS made sound investments in professional development, school improvement planning, and leadership coaching in low-performing schools, resulting in improved outcomes for students and lower staff turnover, a primary threat to progress in these schools.

“This bill rightfully recognizes that much more needs to be done to improve North Carolina’s persistently-underperforming schools,” the letter reads. “However, these schools need options that are more closely associated with improved student outcomes rather than a disproven intervention that impacts a small number of underserved schools. We respectfully ask that you veto House Bill 1080 and opt for proven reforms that will enhance opportunities for our state’s children.” Read the full letter at this link.

BUDGET AFTERMATH: Policymakers chose formula divorced from reality

Over the next year North Carolinians will find out the results of an experiment that began July 1. On that date, a new state budget took effect that is based not on the level of public investment needed to help communities thrive but on a formula divorced from the reality of everyday lives. This rigid formula says public spending growth can’t exceed the percentage growth in population and inflation, even if serving more kids in pre-K than the formula dictates could make more children ready for kindergarten and more likely to be proficient readers by third grade. Even if more seniors could stay in their homes with more home meals and services. .

Our leaders also continued to allow tax cuts to phase in that benefit the wealthy and profitable corporations, and they even pursued more poorly targeted tax cuts that will fail to effectively address the increase in sales taxes that North Carolinians will pay.

For those who say this is as good as we can get, the reality is we can do better. The way things are now should not be “as good as it gets” for North Carolina. We are capable of far better for our families and communities. We can make the public investments needed to build a prosperous economy for everyone. We can deliver on the promise of excellence in the classroom and on building pathways to the middle class.

Some other analysis on the budget:

North Carolinians know that the path to a better future is built through shared commitment to top-quality schools, safe air and water, and thriving communities. North Carolina deserves these things. We achieved them in the past by working together toward a vision of greatness and can do it again. There is no simplistic formula for that.

HOUSE BILL 2: For all the repeal talk, bill remains all but intact at session's end

House Bill 2, one of the most damaging, dangerous, and discriminatory bills ever passed by the North Carolina legislature, sadly and shockingly remains all but intact.

The damage it has had on the state's reputation, individuals, and businesses will now continue unabated. For all of the talk by the Governor and legislative leaders about dialogue, repeal, and repair of damage — none of that occurred and we will all suffer for this executive and legislative impotence for generations to come.

There was a time North Carolina was the progressive face of the New South, a globally competitive state with an increasing devotion to a more inclusive society. No more. For the rest of the nation and the world, we are now nothing but the face of the Old South, a global pariah devoted only to hanging onto the status quo and swimming against the tide of history.

HB 2 made it clear that we love only some of our neighbors; this legislative short session solidified in stone that image. In the end, the legislature could not even restore the full right to sue for religious, sex, and race discrimination that had existed for decades in our state – the right and time to do so are now severely restricted.

FIGHT FOR FAIR WAGES: Join #Fightfor15 rally in Richmond, VA, on Aug. 13

In just a few short weeks, we will be marching with the #FightFor15 in Richmond, VA – and we need you with us.

This is truly an historic moment. Four years ago, a few dozen fast-food workers went on strike in New York City for $15 an hour and union rights. Today, the movement that those strikers set in motion is 64 million strong. Workers have won $15 an hour in New York state and California, in Seattle and for cities and companies across the country – and we’ve helped change the conversation on economic and racial justice.

The choice of Richmond, the one-time heart of the Confederacy, will allow us to draw links between the way workers are treated today and the racist history of the United States — and connect the Fight for 15 with the growing Black Lives Matter and immigrant justice movements. That is why we are proud to be part of the #FightFor15.  We are winning change that matters.

Free buses are leaving from around North Carolina to join this historic march on Saturday, August 13. Will you sign up to be there?

This fight is not just about dollars and cents – though we will not stop until every person who works hard makes enough to live. It’s about justice. About economic justice. Racial justice. Immigration justice. It’s about building a society where parents make enough money to feed their kids and send them to school; where people do not need to worry about where their next meal is coming from, how they’ll pay their health care bills or being racially profiled or discriminated against.

It’s about people coming together and making change. And that’s why we need you with us in Richmond on August 13. Sign up now and stand with us. Thanks for joining the fight.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: Is NC rid of predatory payday lenders for good?

It’s been 15 years since North Carolina became the first state in the U.S. to end its experiment with “payday” lending by making the predatory high interest loans illegal and 10 years since the last businesses trying to evade the ban were finally chased off. Payday loans carry 300+% APR interest rates, typically target low income neighborhoods and are designed to trap borrowers in debt that they cannot escape. The average payday borrower is trapped by ten transactions in a year.

Recently, the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released proposed rules in an effort to rein in the worst abuses of payday and its close cousin, “car title lending,” in other states. Though these lenders no longer operate here, North Carolina still needs a strong national rule since predators will use a weak rule to seek a green light to come back into the state.

Come learn about this vital topic and the need for North Carolinians to speak up in the weeks ahead with national expert, Tom Feltner. Feltner is the Director of Financial Services at the Consumer Federation of America, an association of non-profit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy and education. At CFA, Feltner heads coalition building, policy development, and advocacy in the areas of automobile insurance reform, high-cost lending and financial services regulation.

Don’t miss this very special event! Join NC Policy Watch on Wednesday, July 27, at noon at the Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. Space is limited – pre-registration required.

HEALTH ROUNDTABLE: Join us in Wentworth for discussions on health care

As we approach Affordable Care Act Marketplace Open Enrollment 4, the NC Justice Center's health team would like to learn more from community members about their experiences enrolling for health coverage, seeking and receiving health care after enrollment, and what would improve their overall health care experience.

Join us on Thursday, July 21st, at the Rockingham Community College's Whitcomb Student Center, located at 215 Wrenn Memorial Road in Wentworth, NC. Supper will be served at 5:30 p.m. There will be two roundtable options to attend:

  • ROUNDTABLE ONE: 4:30-5:30pm – Navigators and Certified Assisters
  • ROUNDTABLE TWO: 5:30-7:30pm – Health Care Insurance Marketplace Consumers

Space is limited so call or email today to reserve a place and let us know which Roundtable you will attend. Nicole Dozier, nicole@ncjustice.org, 919.856.2146.
 

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