Commentary, News

This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

moore-berger-151. The growing concentration of power and the long overdue budget

It’s been more than a month since the state House voted to put a $2.85 billion bond issue before voters in November that would pay for infrastructure improvements and construction of buildings on
university and community college campuses and set up a $500 million fund to help counties build schools.

The bond issue is a top priority of Governor Pat McCrory and he’s right about it. The projects are important and overdue and would create jobs across the state.

The bond proposal disappeared after the House vote.

The Senate never took it up, instead burying it a committee that never meets.

But this week as key House and Senate leaders huddled behind closed doors trying to reach an agreement on a final state budget that is now more than two months late, the bond proposal apparently resurfaced. [Continue reading…]

Lw-9102. The top seven education issues in the state budget

Lawmakers have been making a lot of noise about how hard they’ve been working on a state budget that is more than two months overdue. Speaker Tim Moore tweeted Thursday that a framework for the final budget could come out later today, budget documents could be released over the weekend and a final vote could come Wednesday or Thursday of next week.

It’s been a very long seven or so months since the start of this year’s legislative session, so in case you’ve gotten so weary you’ve lost track of what’s at stake for public education, here are seven big issues.

Teacher assistants. Once again, TA jobs are on the line and serve as one of the biggest sticking points between the House and the Senate. The House wants to preserve their jobs (of which there are already far fewer than pre-recession levels), while the Senate initially wanted to do away with more than 8,500 TA jobs over the next two years in favor of reducing classroom sizes. [Continue reading…]

lw-drivers3. An education fight that’s a lot more important than you might think
Attack on driver’s ed goes right to the heart of the ideological battle over the future of public schools

At first blush, it might seem that the ongoing debate in the North Carolina General Assembly over the future of driver’s education is a bit of sideshow – a skirmish over an “extracurricular activity” during a period of tight budgets. With big questions like teacher pay, funding for teacher assistants and textbooks and the proposed rapid expansion of charter schools and private school vouchers on the table, it would be easy for even caring and thinking people to dismiss the driver’s ed debate as an important, but at most, secondary battle.

Such a quick dismissal would, however, be a mistake.

To the contrary, the fight over the future of driver’s education is actually a very important and symbolic debate – the outcome of which could well establish an important precedent going forward. [Continue reading…]

SM-Rise-Academy4. No quick fix: the school turnaround myth
A conversation with Dale Russakoff, author of “The Prize: Who’s in Charge of America’s Schools?”

Five years ago, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, rising Democratic star and Newark mayor Cory Booker and aspiring presidential contender and New Jersey governor Chris Christie appeared together on the Oprah Winfrey show for a surprise announcement:

“We’re setting up a $100 million challenge grant so that Mayor Booker and Governor Christie can have the flexibility they need to turn Newark into a symbol of educational excellence for the whole nation,” Zuckerberg told viewers.

Together with $100 million in matching funds to be raised from local donors, Newark schools were set for a $200 million infusion of cash. [Continue reading…]

so-college_story5. Search for UNC’s next president picking up, down to individual candidates

The search for the next president of the University of North Carolina system is moving along quickly, with a search committee now looking at individual candidates.

An announcement came last night that the presidential search committee will meet three times over the next week for “candidate review.” The meetings will be held on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, on SAS’s Campus in Cary.

“They are down to the point where they are considering individual candidates more closely,” said Joni Worthington, a spokeswoman for the UNC system.

The meetings begin at 8 a.m. on Sunday, and at 8:30 a.m. Monday and Tuesday, according to a meeting notice distributed to media. [Continue reading…]

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