Rep. Hardister

Rep. Hardister

Here’s an interesting comment you might have missed  from Republican Rep. Jon Hardister from Guilford County. He now wishes he had voted against the budget the General Assembly passed last summer that cut funding for education and left teachers without a pay raise.

Hardister made the remarks at an education forum in Chapel Hill last week.

“I voted for the budget last year,” he said. “And I since have come to regret that vote, since I’ve been out listening to parents and visiting classrooms and experiencing firsthand how hard the teachers work.”

It’s nice that Rep. Hardister now realizes his mistake. Too bad he didn’t listen to parents and teachers before he voted to slash school funding.

It was a banner weekend for dumb quotes from North Carolina political leaders.  It’s hard to pick the worst one but here are the nominees.

1) Governor Pat McCrory.  McCrory appeared at the Maine Republican Party Convention this weekend where he shared a lobster lunch with Governor Paul LePage and praised him with this declaration.

Other governors throughout the United States so much respect him because he says what needs to be said.

LePage is a Tea Party governor who has repeatedly made headlines with a series of offensive statements like comparing the IRS to the Gestapo and the Holocaust, charging that a Democratic state Senator “claims to be for the people but he’s the first one to give it to the people without Vaseline,” and saying that President Obama hates white people.

Politico called him America’s craziest governor, detailing many his outrageous statements and decisions. (If you want to read more lunacy from LePage, check out the list of LePage quotes the Bangor Daily News put together last summer.) Read More

A legislative study committee today approved a bill that would back the state out of the Common Core education standards, which has become a rallying cry on the Tea Party right.

There are some opponents of Common Core on the left too, but most of the energy for repealing the standards in North Carolina is coming from the Republican base, some of whom believe it is either an effort by the federal government to take over education or a communist inspired plot hatched in the United Nations.

President Obama supports Common Core, which apparently is reason enough for some Republicans to be against it, but so does former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and most importantly so does North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory—which raises an interesting question.

What will McCrory do this summer if the Republican General Assembly passes the bill the study committee approved today?

One of the few bright spots in the Governor Pat McCrory’s policy agenda outlined last February in his first State of the State speech was his call for state lawmakers to restore funding to the state’s drug treatment courts.

With virtually no explanation, McCrory’s Republican colleagues in the General Assembly ended state funding for the courts when they took over control of the legislature in 2011. In 2012 they cut funding for the treatment services the courts provided.

McCrory asked lawmakers last year to re-establish the drug courts and his budget called for $7.2 million to pay for it.  Legislative leaders completely ignored the request even though the courts had a proven track record of saving the state money and helping drug offenders get sober.

The intensive treatment program cost the state a few thousand dollars per participant, far cheaper than the roughly $30,000 it costs to keep someone in prison for a year. And it allowed the offenders to keep working, paying taxes and taking care of their families while going though the rigorous rehabilitative program.

There was little opposition to expanding the drug courts. They were supported by prosecutors and advocates for alternatives for incarceration alike. You would think that with McCrory weighing in, the funding would be restored—but it didn’t happen.

And McCrory doesn’t seem to want to try again. At his press conference this week he outlined a new initiative to reduce substance abuse at college campuses but didn’t mention the drug courts at all.

It’s not clear why state lawmakers refused to renew the investment in a program with a proven track record and widespread support or why McCrory is apparently unwilling to fight for it again, but it’s too bad.

The state could have saved millions of dollars and even more importantly, a lot of people could have had help turning their lives around.

vegan lunch for linksHere is your brief Wednesday mostly education edition of lunch links, with now just a week to go before Christmas.

It might be 2013 but folks are still trying to ban books in Brunswick County. Doug Clark at the Greensboro News & Record has an interesting take on the reaction by legislative leaders to the latest lawsuit by the NCAE, this one challenging the end to due process rights for teachers.

Also in the education world, national news sites are starting to notice all the problems with the school voucher scheme passed by the General Assembly this year, the latest of which Lindsay Wagner documented last week here at N.C. Policy Watch. Read More