News

The NC House gave unanimous approval Tuesday to legislation that would study the idea of fixed tuition in the University of North Carolina system. Under the bill proposed by Wilkes County Rep. Jeffrey Elmore, the UNC Board of Governors would study the idea of guaranteeing undergraduates a set price for four-years of their college education.

Elmore told his colleagues the idea is to help address the rising costs of higher education. He notes that over the past 30 years, tuition and fees have increased 225% at public four-year universities across the United States.

House Bill 657 would have the Board of Governors fully examine the idea and report back to the legislature in February. Currently more than 300 colleges and universities offer a fixed tuition program.

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. To hear Rep. Elmore explain the bill in his own words, click below:

YouTube Preview Image
News

GeorgewI cannot tell a lie…Representatives Justin Burr, John Torbett, Chris Whitmire, and Gary Pendleton have introduced legislation to place a picture of the nation’s first president in every public school in North Carolina.

House Bill  858 – titled the George Washington Back-to-School Grants – would earmark $500,000 from the state’s Education Lottery for the 2015-16 fiscal year, and another $500,000 in 2016-17 to purchase framed pictures of George Washington.

And sponsors specify in their bill that the likeness of the first United States President can’t be placed just anywhere.

The portrait must be “placed in a dignified location and manner so as to educate students about one of the most important figures in the nation’s history and an enduring model of character, leadership, and civic responsibility.”

Lawmakers suggest the program be administered by the Governor’s Office until the million dollars in funding is exhausted.

The bill has been referred to the Appropriations Committee for further consideration.

News

Members of the House Judiciary Committee, who will be discussing legislation today to increase the financial accountability of North Carolina’s charter schools, might want to revisit what happened to the students of a recently shuttered school in Columbus County.

As WECT-TV reported last week, SEGS Academy in Delco, NC gave parents just two days notice this month before closing its doors. That sent many students back to their public school district, without any funding:

segs“…the influx of students means some teachers have larger classes and little time to prepare the newcomers for end-of-grade tests, even though their scores will count toward Acme-Delco’s letter grade.

“We don’t have very much time to find out where they are, what they need and how we can make the very most of the last few days of this school year,” Hedrick said.

Because the former SEGS students are transferring so late, Columbus County Schools won’t get any state money for educating them through the end of the school year, according to Superintendent Alan Faulk.

“We’re going to teach them no matter what. It would have been nice had some funding come with them, but there is no funding and that’s not going to affect the way that we teach the children,” Faulk said. “We’re helping out in a situation that went bad, and we’ll do everything we can to help the students.”

Faulk said Tuesday his schools had enrolled approximately 25 former SEGS students, but he expected more to follow because 61 students who live in Columbus County’s district attended the charter school in March.”

House Bill 96, up for consideration this afternoon in Judiciary I, would addresses debt collection from personally liable individuals following the dissolution of a charter school.

The bill would also require the Department of Public Instruction’s Office of Charter Schools to maintain a database of individuals with the authority to expend funds on behalf of charter schools.

A favorable vote today and the bill will head to Regulatory Reform.

You can read more about SEGS’ recent decision to voluntarily close its doors here.

Commentary, News

1. Lawmakers move bill that would make it a felony offense for a student to assault a teacher

Students who assault teachers could soon face felony charges in North Carolina, according to a bill that was green-lighted by a Senate committee on Wednesday—despite concerns raised that under the proposed law, even minor infractions could result in a lifetime of lost opportunities for some of the state’s youth. “We’re having more serious [Continue Reading…]

2. The revealing 2015 Tax Day

Tax Day 2015 didn’t exactly turn out like state legislative leaders had planned. Instead of a flurry of news stories featuring people thrilled to find out that they are paying less in state taxes thanks to the alleged tax cuts passed by the General Assembly in 2013, many of the reports included comments from [Continue Reading…]

3.Audit found Medicaid owed $350 million, while DHHS officials said program had surplus

Lawmakers heard Monday that the state’s massive Medicaid program was in the hole at the end of last year’s fiscal year, despite prior statements by state health officials that the program finished that year with a surplus. The Medicaid program had $350 million in liabilities for 2013-14, not the surplus of $63.4 million [Continue Reading…]

4. Who asked for this?
Lawmakers disregard public opinion and the common good with anti-consumer bills

The process of crafting new laws in a state legislature can be a mysterious and confusing process a lot of the time—especially to average citizens who don’t have the time or capacity to follow along closely. Even for activists, it can often be difficult to keep up with the various players—much less their arguments and true motivations.[Continue Reading…]

5. Q&A with James Ford, 2014 NC Teacher of the Year

Garinger High School history teacher and North Carolina 2014 Teacher of the Year James Ford took a circuitous path to the teaching profession. He started out with the intention of becoming a journalist, then served as a truancy intervention specialist and then a director of a teen center. His love for working with [Continue Reading…]

News

The state House is expected to give final approval Monday to legislation that would make North Carolina’s judicial races partisan in 2016.

Rockingham County Rep. Bert Jones says clearly labeling candidates for the N.C. Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court with their party affiliation will increase transparency.

Wake County Rep. Grier Martin told his colleagues the move would be a mistake.

Martin suggested voters could learn more valuable information by going online or researching the judicial candidates in available voter guides:

“I have never had a constituent come to me and say ‘What I want to see is more partisanship in judicial races.'” explained Rep. Martin. “And I’m very concerned if we go back to partisan judicial elections, we’re going to elect more judicial activists, both on the left and from the right.”

Legislators are also considering this session a bill that would make all locally elected school board races partisan.

One more vote in the NC House and HB 8 will move to the Senate. To listen to some of Thursday’s debate, click below:

YouTube Preview Image