Coming up this week…

While it may be a short work week for some, there’s plenty happening across North Carolina this week:

PILGRAMAGEThe 27th Annual Pilgrimage for Peace and Justice continues across North Carolina today to raise awareness and encourage action throughout the state. Leaders from a variety of faith communities, human rights organizations, and communities will walk with migrants, the undocumented, farmworkers, business people, teenagers and college students, grandparents and anyone else with a passion for social justice.

The walk during Holy Week is intended to highlight the need for a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, justice for farmworkers, and an end to policies that lead to poverty and oppression in both Latin America and the United States.

The week-long event concludes in Raleigh on Friday with the bilingual economic justice way of the cross at the NC State Capitol.

Monday afternoon the Wake County Legislative Delegation holds a 4:00 p.m. public hearing in Room 1027/1128 or the Legislative Building.

Members of Great Schools in Wake, parents, and concerned citizens will voice their concerns about a number of bills including:

  • SB 236: Counties Responsible for School Construction – Transferring basic powers of school property to county commissions
  • SB 325: Wake County School Board Districts – Redefines how and when Wake County School Board members are elected, redraws School Board districts
  • HB 144: Homeschool Education Income Tax Credit – Offers a $1,250 tax credit per semester for every homeschooled child.
  • HB 269: Children with Disabilities Scholarship Grants – Awards a $3,000 grant per semester for students with disabilities to attend any nonpublic school, but the bill as no requirement to demonstrate academic growth.

This evening, the NC Senate will take up Senate Bill 334, legislation that would tear up the state’s contract with Raleigh for the Dorothea Dix campus. DixPark

Under the terms of the three-month-old lease, Raleigh would pay $500,000-per-year and develop the 325-acre Dix property as a “destination park.”

But Republicans contend that Gov. Bev Perdue signed-off on a land deal well below market value, and are now pushing to scrap the deal.

Over in Durham this evening at the Duke Human Rights Center in Durham, Dr. Heather Ann Thompson will lead a forum on How Mass Incarceration Affects Us All – and what we can do about it.

Dr. Thompson is the leading historian of mass incarceration in the United States. The event gets underway at 7:00 p.m. Monday at the FHI “Garage” at John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute, Smith Warehouse, Bays 4 & 5, Durham  (114 S. Buchanan, near the corner of Buchanan and Main, access from Maxwell Street).

cursive-upperOn Tuesday, the House Education Committee will discuss House Bill 146, an act to ensure the standard course of study includes the requirement that the public schools provide instruction in cursive writing “so that students create readable documents through legible cursive handwriting by the end of fifth grade.” The bill would also require students memorize their multiplication tables. The “Back to Basics” bill will be heard at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday in Room 643 of the Legislative Office Building.

Senate Bill 306 will be in front of the Senate Judiciary I committee at 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. Senator Thom Goolsby’s bill (Capital Punishment/Amendments) would eliminate the use of statistics in weighing whether a death row inmate’s sentence was race-related, effectively repealing what remains of the Racial Justice Act.SB 306 also seeks to end North Carolina’s defacto moratorium on the death penalty.  North Carolina’s death row currently has 152 people on it.Still-Against-Amendment-One

Hundreds of vigils will be taking place all across North Carolina and the entire country as the nation’s highest court hears oral arguments in the landmark Prop 8 and DOMA cases on March 26 and 27.

This will include events hosted by Equality NC, SC Equality, Campaign for Southern Equality, and community leaders throughout the southern region.

Look for Candlelight vigils in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, and Raleigh.

Wednesday is NC Land and Water Conservation Lobby Day at the legislature.

Governor Pat McCrory’s proposed budget includes significant cuts in spending for the state’s land and water conservation trust funds. The governor’s budget would cut the Clean Water Management Trust Fund per year to $6.75 million from $10.75 million, which is a 37 percent reduction.

Land for Tomorrow and their partners will be in Raleigh to make the case for more dedicated funding.

Also on Wednesday, members of the Senate Education/Higher Education committee will take up Senate Bill 337 .The bill sponsored by Senators Jerry Tillman and Dan Soucek would create the North Carolina Public Charter Schools Board to authorize and oversee high-quality public charter schools throughout the State.

This new board would operate within the Department of Public Instruction but exercise its powers and duties independently of the State Board of Education and Department of Public Instruction.

Membership would include three members appointed by the Governor, three appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, three appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the State Treasurer, and the Lieutenant Governor.The State Superintendent of Public Instruction would be the secretary of the new Charter Board and a nonvoting member.

That committee meets at 10:00 a.m. Wednesday in Room 544 LOB.

Thursday afternoon, Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina (SPNC) will hold a public forum to “sound a scholarly alarm about the policy direction being pursued by the new NC General Assembly.”spnc

From different disciplinary perspectives, scholars will alert students and the general public about current policy proposals that will damage North Carolina for decades to come. Speakers include leading faculty from Duke & UNC-Chapel Hill. The 5:00 p.m. forum will be held at The Sanford School of Public Policy, Room 04. To learn more about the forum, visit: http://ow.ly/jmbpx.


(Pilgrimage Photo by Jerry Markatos.)

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