Despite suggestions from some GOP members that local school districts may be misusing funded positions, a House budget committee gave its approval Thursday to legislation allaying a looming class-size crisis for North Carolina school districts.
Policy Watch reported in November that last year’s directive from the legislature to reduce class sizes in grades K-3 starting with the 2017-2018 academic year could have disastrous impacts for local districts, forcing them to spend millions more in local cash or shelve arts and physical education classes.
Public school advocates and lobbyists for the N.C. School Boards Association, which represents local boards in Raleigh, have been pressuring lawmakers to act quickly this session to resolve the problem, given local districts are already prepping their budgets for the coming school year. [Read more…]
***Bonus Education Reads:
- Trump nominee Betsy DeVos confirmed as education secretary in historically close vote
- Controversial school reformer Michelle Rhee talks teacher raises, pay-for-performance in NC
- NC Congressman co-sponsors bill to scrap the US Department of Education
The 2017 General Assembly session is only a few weeks old but there’s already a compelling example of what’s wrong with the way things are being done in Raleigh and why the conventional wisdom about the legislature often misses the real story.
State lawmakers took up legislation Tuesday that would give local school systems more flexibility next fall dealing with a provision stuffed into last year’s budget directing schools to lower class sizes in the early grades.
The provision would lower the maximum number of children allowed in K-3 classes from 24 to between 19 and 21 depending on the grade and would lower the average class size overall.
Smaller classes are a good idea and they are especially important in the early grades—but there was a problem with the plan.
No extra funding was provided, forcing schools to consider cutting art, music, and physical education classes next year to come up with the money to pay for the smaller classes. [Read more…]
Overlooking the all caps, italics, bolded passages and occasional exclamation marks, on its face the two-page letter sent by eight North Carolina lawmakers looked overblown but possibly informed.
Last month, the lawmakers — all Republicans — wrote to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, asking him to permanently close the Desert Wind farm just west of Elizabeth City. The letter quoted impressive-sounding government-funded studies about the threat of wind turbines on military radar. It cited a meticulous set of facts and figures. It listed footnotes in superscript, just like the MLA academic style book instructs.
Two of the five citations, though, were from unreliable sources that undermine the truth about the feasibility of wind farms in North Carolina:
Breitbart News, a primary disseminator of fake news, whose former executive chairman and founder sits at the right hand of President Trump. [Read more…]
4. Berger and Moore’s latest destructive power grab
Why holding confirmation hearings for the Governor’s department heads is a lousy idea
Leaders of the North Carolina General Assembly have taken a lot of disastrous turns – both substantive and procedural – over the past six years. Denying health care and unemployment insurance benefits to hundreds of thousands, slashing taxes on the rich, eviscerating voting rights, waging wars on science, the environment, reproductive freedom and LGBTQ equality, pushing loaded guns into every corner of the state, and just generally undermining the health of government; the list of regressive policies goes on and on.
Meanwhile, most of these dreadful policy decisions have been abetted by a series of procedural moves designed to seize and concentrate more and more power in the hands of a narrow cadre of conservative legislative leaders. Whether it’s shutting off debate, ruling amendments out of order, calling sudden and repeated special sessions, altering the composition of committees to silence minority voices, rendering budget subcommittee work virtually meaningless, or seizing authority from local government and the executive branch, House Speakers Thom Tillis and Tim Moore and, especially, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger have taken repeated ends-justify-the-means steps to make themselves the final arbiters of all public policy in the state. [Read more…]
*** Bonus Reads:
- Legislative leaders condemn Superior Court order placing confirmation of Cooper’s cabinet on hold
- NC Senate, House Democrats introduce HB2 repeal bills
5. Fear of Trump immigration order in NC spreads as potential human costs emerge
President Donald Trump has paid a lot of lip service to rounding up the “bad hombres” but it turns out he wants to deport a much larger group of immigrants than he led America to believe.
Trump signed an executive order in January to enhance “public safety in the interior of the United States.” The order did away a previous deportation priority list promulgated former President Barack Obama’s administration and is expected to have dire consequences for a majority of unauthorized immigrants, not just individuals with criminal convictions.
“It essentially renders meaningless this idea that there’s any prioritization,” said Avideh Moussavian, a policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. “That’s how every law enforcement agency is supposed to function, you know, you don’t give the same weight to a jaywalker as you would to someone committing a much more serious or dangerous offense.”
The order specifically lists the following priorities (with no hierarchy) to target immigrants for deportation: [Read more…]
*** Bonus Read: