Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

1. Is North Carolina next in line for New Orleans-style takeovers of failing schools?

Around the country, states and cities are trying a new way to boost success rates at low-performing schools. New efforts labeled ‘recovery school districts,’ ‘achievement school districts,’ ‘turnaround schools,’ and the like are making their way into places that include Tennessee, Louisiana, and Arkansas, to name a few — efforts that allow states to take over failing schools and relegate their management to private charter school operators that would be free to fire teachers and start from scratch.

Is North Carolina next to take up this flavor of education reform?

“I have heard rumblings around the legislative building about potential achievement zones coming to NC,” Rep. Tricia Cotham (D-Mecklenburg) told N.C. Policy Watch. [Continue Reading…]

**** Bonus read ****(with draft of Rep. Bryan’s bill): Charter school operators could takeover struggling schools, replace teachers and staff

2. Day one in the court fight over voting rights in North Carolina

The battle over sweeping election law changes adopted in North Carolina in 2013 opened on two fronts yesterday.

In a packed courtroom inside the federal courthouse in Winston-Salem, attorneys for both the challengers and the state laid out the case they planned to present to U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder over the next several weeks.

State lawmakers knew exactly what they were doing when they stripped away same day registration, cut early voting days and eliminated the counting of out-of-precinct provisional ballots — provisions used widely by minority voters — Penda D. Hair, an attorney for the North Carolina NAACP, said in her opening statement. [Continue Reading…]

3. The forgotten starting point for Medicaid “reform” 

One of the things holding up passage of a state budget for the next two years and the adjournment of the 2015 session of the General Assembly is Medicaid reform.

Senate leaders stuffed their version of a managed care plan for Medicaid run by out of state for profit companies into their budget bill and vowed not to leave Raleigh until some variation of it is agreed to by the House and Governor Pat McCrory.

House leaders have their own Medicaid proposal, based on accountable care organizations that give a greater role to providers in controlling costs, and it has passed in a separate bill.

The reforms are very different though both would make changes in the current way Medicaid is administered. [Continue Reading…]
4. McCrory’s education advisor leaving to help groom TFA alums into leaders 

Governor Pat McCrory’s education advisor, Eric Guckian, is leaving his job at the end of July to serve in a leadership role for a national organization dedicated to transforming Teach for America alums into leaders.

In a Tuesday afternoon press release, McCrory’s office touted education-related accomplishments it said Guckian’s guidance was key to making happen.

“During his tenure with Governor McCrory, Guckian was instrumental in helping pass one of the largest teacher raises in the state’s history which provided an average salary increase of seven percent and raised the base pay for beginning teachers,” read the statement, along with a list of other education initiatives in which Guckian played a role. [Continue Reading…]
5. A critical problem for the elderly (and all those who aspire to that status)

The desperate need to improve our treatment of caregivers

If you are a person of relatively sound mind and body, consider the following question tonight as you get ready for bed: If you needed help with that task and had no family members willing or able to fill the role, what would you consider to be a fair wage to pay someone to assist you?

Seriously, think about it. Imagine that someone had to be hired to help you with your most basic personal and physical needs like bathing, using the toilet and dressing. Now, what would you say that a person should be paid to perform such tasks?

Perhaps more to the point, what would you hope to see such a person get paid in order to attract a skilled, intelligent and reliable assistant (i.e., one who is educated, makes enough money to afford reliable transportation and who does not have to work two other jobs when he or she should be sleeping)? [Continue Reading…]

***Upcoming event this Monday, July 20th: NC Policy Watch presents a Crucial Conversation luncheon — Caring for Caregivers with Rep. Yvonne Holley  (This event is **free** of charge, but you must register this weekend.)

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