Commentary, News

This week’s top five on NC Policy Watch

#1 – Teachers, advocates: May 16th shaping up as an “historic day” for public education in NC — In the 11 years since she became a North Carolina teacher, Fayetteville’s Tamika Walker Kelly has seen more than a few changes in the state’s public schools.

In 2009, she watched North Carolina, then under the control of a Democratic General Assembly and governor, push sweeping cuts and pay freezes in the midst of an economic recession. And she’s seen a new legislative majority—seized by Republicans in 2010—sidestep major teacher raises while jettisoning teaching assistants, local discretionary funds, scrapping tenure and bypassing funding for textbooks and classroom supplies, even as the economy recovered.

All the while, lawmakers pumped millions into blossoming school choice initiatives and billions into broad state tax cuts for businesses and individuals.

But perhaps the most alarming change, according to Kelly, is the change in how educators and public school systems are viewed by some of North Carolina’s most powerful political leaders. [Read more…]

***Bonus read: That’s funny – Berger and Johnson didn’t oppose January education rally

#2 – Governor’s suggested budget includes teacher, state employee raises — Gov. Roy Cooper rolled out office’s recommended state budget Thursday, ahead of the legislative session that begins May 16. The $24.54 billion proposal  includes some major proposals that do not sit well with the Republican-led legislature, including freezing tax cuts for businesses and wealthy North Carolinians to fund raises for every teacher in the state of at least 5 percent. [Read more…]

#3 – Department of Labor records document dangerous conditions inside Chemours facility — On Halloween afternoon in 2013, a worker at DuPont’s Fayetteville Works plant was replacing a valve in a room that produces membranes containing Nafion. This is the same perfluorinated compound that for years flowed through an illegal, unlined “Nafion ditch” from the facility into the Cape Fear River and downstream to Wilmington’s drinking water supply. [Read more…]

*** Bonus read: Chemours responds to DEQ with promises of new technology sandwiched with a veiled threat to leave North Carolina

#4 – PW exclusive: Unregistered agents pushing landowners to make way for proposed central NC gas pipeline — On a recent spring afternoon, Kelly and Daniel Bollinger were checking in on one of their fields, zigzagging on foot between furrows where Daniel had just planted pine seeds.

“There’s one,” Daniel said, pointing to a finger-size conifer that had taken root and begun to grow. [Read more…]

#5 – It’s long overdue, but a vitally important reform movement is finally catching on — If there is a top lesson for caring and thinking people to glean from the first 16 months of the Trump presidency, it has to be the importance of not taking the basic premises of our American experiment for granted. Now that we have learned once more the hard truth that our nation is perfectly capable of electing a blatantly dishonest would-be despot possessed of only the most superficial grasp of constitutional government, the urgency of rededicating ourselves to the active protection of basic human and constitutional rights is quite clear. [Read more…]

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