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Governor Pat McCrory laid out his vision Wednesday night for building a stronger North Carolina. During his State of the State address, McCrory praised James Ford, North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year for 2014, and pledged that his administration was committed to building an education system that will make North Carolina “a teaching destination, not a layover for our state’s best and brightest.”

The governor’s ideas included:

  • Raising teacher base pay to $35,000.
  • Eliminating unneeded testing by the next year so teachers can teach and students can learn.
  • Bringing Wi-Fi to our classrooms and increase digital learning opportunities for both children and adults.
  • Expediting teacher certification by recognizing an individual’s experience and subject expertise.
  • Increasing the commercialization of university research.

Noticeably absent from the governor’s remarks – talk of increased pay for veteran teachers or plans to reestablish the NC Teaching Fellows program, as some legislators and educators have proposed.

To hear an excerpt of Governor McCrory’s speech, click below. You can read more about the State of the State here.

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North Carolina educators, lawmakers, and parents are anxiously awaiting the Department of Public Instruction’s Thursday release of  A-though-F report cards, grading each public school in the state.

Proponents say the new measure will increase accountability and paint an accurate picture for parents.

But it’s worth noting 80-percent of a school’s grade will be based on how students do on their end-of-grade tests.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson says parents needs to understand the grade does not paint an entire picture of how local schools are serving their children:

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As NC Policy Watch’s education reporter Lindsay Wagner explains in her Wednesday story:

….just 20 percent of a letter grade will draw on the degree to which students improve over time on standardized tests, which many pundits and educators say is not enough.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth schools are keenly aware of the potential for poverty to hold their schools back from achieving high grades in the state’s new accountability system, and so they’ve taken matters into their own hands.

Last week, Winston-Salem/Forsyth released their own set of performance grades for each of their schools. Their formula takes the state grade and bumps it up one letter grade for schools that meet or exceed state growth expectations, placing a heavier emphasis on how well schools help bring students along over time.

Be sure to read Wagner’s full story here to understand how the A-F school report cards have been rolled out, tweaked, and even abandoned in other states.

News

In a question and answer session with the Bipartisan Policy Center on Monday, North Carolina U.S. Senator Thom Tillis told the audience that there are too many government regulations.

To illustrate his point, Tillis recounted a conversation with a constituent in his home district at a local Starbucks where an employee was exiting the bathroom.

“She says, for example, don’t you believe that this regulation that requires this gentleman to wash his hands before he serves you food is important?” Tillis recounted to the audience.“I said: ‘I don’t have any problem with Starbucks if they choose to opt out of this policy as long as they post a sign that says ‘We don’t require our employees to wash their hands after leaving the restroom.’”

Tillis told the audience “the market will take care of it.”

Click on the image below to go to the full video carried on C-SPAN.

For more on the importance of handwashing by restaurant workers, visit this page from the Centers for Disease Control.

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News

If you weren’t able to attend NC Policy Watch’s Crucial Conversation with Mandy Locke, investigative reporter for the Raleigh News & Observer, that full program on worker misclassification is now available online.

Locke was joined by Raleigh businessman Doug Burton, President and Owner of Whitman Masonry. Burton is one of the numerous North Carolina employers who treats his workers fairly, plays by the rules and is regularly disadvantaged as a result of the state’s lax law enforcement in this area.

Please watch and then share this special presentation on fraud in the workplace:

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Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger made good on his promise Wednesday to file legislation that would allow magistrates to refuse to perform marriages for same sex couples. Senate Bill 2 states:

Every magistrate has the right to recuse from performing all lawful marriages under this Chapter based upon any sincerely held religious objection.

Senator Jeff Jackson, a former prosecutor, told reporters such legislation undermine marriage equality and seeks to legitimize discrimination:

“In this nation, we as citizens don’t have to pass any government employees personal religious test in order to receive government service. And that’s exactly what a magistrate does – provide a government service. In the United States we do not condition government service on the religious agreement by the government worker,” said Jackson during a press conference.

“Government offices that are open to the public, must be open to everyone on the same terms, including the people who are gay or lesbian.”

Click below to hear Sen. Jackson’s remarks:

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