The Wake County Board of Education unanimously passed a resolution Tuesday that ‘respectfully requests’ the NC General Assembly repeal legislation that would eliminate teacher tenure.

Under the model approved last summer, local school districts would award the top 25 percent of their teachers 4-year contracts along with a $500 bonus, as long as they agree to give up their tenure. Lawmakers who support the legislation say it’s intended to reward teachers based on merit.

Leaders of the Wake County school board told reporters they believe the pay plan would create a negative environment that would discourage experienced educators from sharing their best practices.

Board chair Christine Kushner said she’s also troubled the 25% legislation would exclude some very qualified teachers from receiving bonuses.

Vice Chair Tom Benton noted that the controversial law was diverting attention away from the real issue legislators need to address – better compensation for all teachers.

“The sad thing is that with all the focus on the 25%, the career status, the increase for beginning teachers, the taking away of Master’s pay, we are have lost sight of a key and perhaps the most important factor in salaries. And that is that teacher salaries across this state are too low,” explained Benton.

Wake County estimates 62% of its full-time teachers would be eligible to receive four-year contracts and bonuses under the 25% legislation.

To hear an excerpt of their press conference, click below.  Click here to read their 3-page resolution. You can watch Tuesday’s school board meeting on WRAL.com.

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The latest Elon University Poll finds North Carolinians unhappy with many of the incumbents representing them in Washington and in Raleigh.

The February poll found Congress’ approval rating remaining in the single digits (8%). President Barack Obama fared better with an approval rating of 39%, while the majority (over  51%) said they disapprove of the job he is doing.

As for North Carolina’s two U.S. Senators, both Senators Kay Hagan and Richard Burr have a 33% approval rating. However it’s worth noting that Hagan, who faces a tough re-election campaign this year, has seen some  support erode among women since November, when this poll was last conducted.

Thom Tillis, thought to be a front-runner among a long list of Republican candidates hoping to unseat  Hagan, has his own problems. More than 58% percent did not recognize his name, and his approval rating was just 18%, with nearly 34% of respondents saying they disapprove.

Governor Pat McCrory’s approval rating has seen a slight uptick (now at 36%) since November 2013, but that has not been the case with the NC General Assembly. Less than a third of voters approve of the job of the legislature (28%) with more than 45% saying they disapprove of the direction the General Assembly has taken the state.

The  Elon University  Poll surveyed 925 registered voters between February 23rd – 26th. For a complete look at the questions and the poll findings, click here.
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Sunday’s spring-like forecast seems like a distant memory as we’re watching temperatures drop this lunch hour and the water cooler talk is more about the next ‘snowpocalypse’ than last night’s Oscars.

So keep one eye on the radar and we’ll run through a couple of quick lunch links to dCoalAsh_NYTivert your attention away from the wet, icy mix that’s upon us.

First, if you missed it over the weekend, North Carolina once again made the front page of the New York Times. The headline alone – Ash Spill Shows How Watchdog Was Defanged -  paints a very worrisome picture about recent changes within the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Here are two short excerpts from Trip Gabriel’s article:

Current and former state regulators said the watchdog agency, once among the most aggressive in the Southeast, has been transformed under Gov. Pat McCrory into a weak sentry that plays down science, has abandoned its regulatory role and suffers from politicized decision-making.

A second supervisor, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, said: “A lot of us never considered ourselves political creatures. What’s happened here has really blown us out of the water. People speak in hushed tones in the hallway to each other. We go offsite to talk. It’s totally changed the culture of this organization.”

Mr. Skvarla said in an interview that he was “speechless” to hear such a sentiment, adding, “I think we have taken politics out of this agency.”

While on the subject of our environment Mother Jones magazine offers a frightening field guide to common plastics, that will have you thinking about how your food and medicine are packaged.

WUNC reports on a new study out of Duke University that indicates retaining students means more discipline problems in other students:

The findings come at a time when educators and policymakers are debating a new North Carolina law that could increase the number of older retained students. The “Read to Achieve” program, which went into effect this year, requires all third-grade students to read at grade level or risk being held back.

Matt Ellinwood, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center’s Education and Law project, also discussed some of the flaws with the “Read to Achieve” program over the weekend on News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon. You can watch a portion of that radio interview below:

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The Huffington Post reports that MoveOn.org is launching a new ad campaign this week targeting Republican governors who have rejected Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. Their campaign will begin with billboards popping up in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Virginia.

Think Progress reports that the Supreme Court will hear today what could be the biggest death penalty case in nearly a decade.

The Hill has the latest on the push to enroll more Americans in Obamacare before this month’s deadline.

The Washington Post has the skinny on the latest well-being index, and why West Virginia  may be the most miserable state in the country.

selfie2On the lighter side even if you missed the Oscars chances are you didn’t miss the Ellen DeGeneres selfie – now the most retweeted  tweet of all time, according to Buzzfeed.

And of course, that has lots of folks creating their own celebrity selfies and sharing those online. (Why yes, that is me on the left, no need to make a big fuss about it. And yes, Kevin Spacey was just as charismatic as Frank Underwood.)

Happy Monday…time to get back to work!

 

 

For those who missed this week’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation with Appalachian Voices’ Amy Adams and State Rep. Pricey Harrison, the full program is now available online.

Please watch and then share – Duke’s Dan River coal ash disaster: What happened? How big is the problem? What’s next? – See more at: YouTube Preview Image

btc_foodNorth Carolina’s “food deserts” take center stage this afternoon as legislators hold their second meeting to discuss how to make healthy, fresh food more available in rural areas and in communities where transportation is a barrier.

Among those testifying is Demetrius Hunter, who runs Grocers on Wheels. Hunter is profiled in today’s News and Observer where he discusses how mobile produce markets may be one solution for low-income residents in Wake County.

Rep. Yvonne Holley is hoping these hearings build support for her proposal that would offer tax credits to businesses that open or expand operations that sell nutritious food in the state’s food deserts zones.

Do you live in one of these desert? To find out, check out the recent graphic (above) by the good folks at the NC Budget & Tax Center.

Also on the subject of food insecurity, visit PBS News Hour for an eye-opening photo essay: Picturing Hunger in America.

Finally, we have two additional infographics  for you to digest today.  First, Mother Jones explains why California’s drought is quickly becoming everyone’s problem.  And we’ll leave you with this fascinating graphic from Yes! Magazine on Why Corporations Want Our Public Schools. (Click on either image below to see the full-size original.)

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