1. Grades for a roller-coaster week in Raleigh
Well, that was quite an up and down week in the North Carolina public policy arena. One minute, caring and thinking people were feeling encouraged and hopeful that common sense and relative moderation were mounting a serious comeback in the capital city. The next, they were pounding their computer screens in frustration at the worse-than-ever surge of regressive legislation and the alternately dishonest and vacuous explanations proffered by bill sponsors and Governor McCrory.
So, what to make of the rapid-fire developments and the muddled policy picture that we confront at week’s end? Here’s a thumbnail review of five issues that dominated the news, where they stand and what to make of the Governor’s and General Assembly’s brief and mostly ineffective feints toward the middle. [Continue Reading…]
2. Court of Appeals says repeal of NC tenure law is unconstitutional
The General Assembly’s 2013 repeal of the teacher tenure law amounted to an unconstitutional taking of contract and property rights as to those teachers who’d already attained that status, according to a Court of Appeals opinion released this morning.
Writing for the court, Judge Linda Stephens said:
“[W]e cannot escape the conclusion that for the last four decades, the career status protections provided by section 115C- 325, the very title of which—“Principal and Teacher Employment Contracts”— purports to govern teachers’ employment contracts, have been a fundamental part of the bargain that Plaintiffs and thousands of other teachers across this State accepted when they decided to defer the pursuit of potentially more lucrative professions, as well as the opportunity to work in states that offer better financial compensation to members of their own profession, in order to accept employment in our public schools.”
3. McCrory’s defining moments
Never mind the claims of a Carolina Comeback or his promises to fix a “broken” state government. It will be the next few weeks that are likely to define the governorship of Pat McCrory.
First there is the fate of his vetoes, his decisions to reject legislation that would allow magistrates and other public officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples and another bill that would make it harder for employees to uncover and report abuse or other unethical activity at their workplace.
Many pundits have said politics motivated McCrory to act, to portray himself as more moderate with the 2016 election just around the corner. [Continue Reading…]
4. State Board of Education wavers on green-lighting questionable charter school operators: Poor track records, allegations and charges of academic fraud linked to companies hoping to educate North Carolina’s school children
The State Board of Education planned to decide this month whether or not to give the go-ahead to 18 charter schools that hope to open in the Fall of 2016.
But upon learning of allegations and charges of academic fraud and other abuses at charter schools in Florida that are managed by Newpoint Education Partners—a company that hopes to open two charter schools in Wake and New Hanover counties—the Board indicated Wednesday that they are likely to temporarily put the brakes on allowing that charter management company to do business in North Carolina, a decision that will be determined in a final vote Thursday. [Continue Reading…]
5. Another hidden gem in the budget comes to light: Why are lawmakers pushing the use of drones without public debate?
The subject of unmanned aircraft systems – often referred to as “drones” — and their use in American airspace is obviously an enormously complex and controversial subject. In addition to simple safety concerns (a drone landed on the White House lawn earlier this year, for Pete’s sake), the prospect of thousands of camera-equipped machines flying over private homes and businesses at the behest of the government and/or corporate interests raises all kinds of questions about privacy, the Fourth Amendment and, as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously described it, “the right to be let alone.”
Add to this obvious reality the technological advances of recent years and the pressure on drone manufacturers to find new markets for their wares given the declining role of the U.S. military in Iraq and Afghanistan and it’s pretty obvious that this is a subject in need of serious public dialogue. [Continue Reading…]