Lunch Links

Here’s a little bit about what’s captivating my attention after the long holiday weekend.

The Boston Marathon is underway, with the wheelchair racers already finishing up and both the elite men’s and women’s runners coming in during the lunch hour.  You can watch a live-stream of the runners here or read updates via blog form here.

There have been no shortage of moving remembrances of the tragedy that befell last year’s race, among some of the better reads was this article about a different pair of brothers who both lost their right legs and are trying to rebuild their lives.

There’s plenty happening here in North Carolina this morning, including the monthly release of federal jobs data from the state commerce department. A first-glance look shows that the state continued to see unemployment drop (now down to 6.3 percent, and below the national average), but the numbers also show that the actual labor force of the date (comprised of people who have jobs and who are actively looking for work) shrunk by approximately 50,000 from this time last year.

What that jobs data means has become a bit of a political flashpoint, with Gov. Pat McCrory calling the numbers “evidence that the policy changes we made are working” in a statement he released this morning.

On the other side, some economic analysts (including the N.C. Justice Center’s Budget and Tax Center) have urged caution in declaring victory over North Carolina’ job crises crisis, and instead say the shrinking labor force may mean those in prime working condition have been so frustrated in their job searches they’ve stopped looking.

Finally, I’ll leave you with what has become in recent years one of my favorite things about the Easter Holiday: the Washinton Post’s annual Peep diorama contest.

This year’s winner was “’I Have a Dream: Martin Luther King Jr. Addresses the Peeple

Another favorite was “Peeping POTUS,” a take on the NSA affair, with a family of Peeps being spied on by the Oval Office and federal agent Peeps while a Peepward Snowden exposes the whole arrangement on a television set.

There’s a great photo gallery of winning entries here.

 

Lots of education news swirling around out there, so here are a few stories to keep you up to date as you enjoy your midday meal.

First, the great reporters over at WUNC have a few really interesting education stories up this week.

Dave DeWitt demystifies the complicated EVAAS system for evaluating North Carolina’s teachers, which some say is a big fat secret in terms of how it truly measures whether or not a teacher is doing a good job.

DeWitt also has a story today about all of the various teacher pay proposals on the table – and why merit pay plans may not work.

And WUNC’s Reema Khrais has fact-checked seven claims about the Common Core State Standards. See what she found here.

Kansas is having a rough week. Lawmakers took a page out of North Carolina’s book and decided enact a series of education reforms, including:

• Foster school choice by allowing corporations to receive tax credits for contributions to scholarship funds so children with special needs or who come from low-income households could attend private school.

• Make it easier to fire teachers by eliminating their due-process rights.

• Relax teacher licensing when hiring instructors with professional experience in areas including math, science, finance and technical education.

In Texas, a school teacher was suspended for being transgender.

And to end on a happier note, a couple of Guilford County Schools ranked pretty high in school rankings released by The Washington Post. Penn-Griffin School for the Arts made it into the top 100, and Grimsely High wasn’t far behind at 128.

It’s multiple-meeting-Monday, so let’s just dive right in to today’s belated Lunch Links.

First, a couple of must reads:  The Institute for Southern Studies has a fascinating look at Who’s driving North Carolina’s latest voter fraud hysteria?

Photograph by Renée C. Byer

Photograph by Renée C. Byer

Next up, many people are remembering Chuck Stone, who died over the weekend at 89, as a tenacious trailblazer. Brush up on his legacy by reading his obit in The Washington Post and this piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Mother Jones has an interview with Thomas Nazario, the author of  Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor. The moving images by Renée C. Byer remind us of the power of photojournalism.

Continuing on the subject of great storytelling, 60 Minutes correspondents Steve Kroft and Lesly Stahl will speak Tuesday evening as part of the Bryan Series at Guilford College.

What else are we watching this week?

The NC Budget & Tax Center is out with a new report today that finds ensuring all drivers have a driver’s license, regardless of their immigration status, can improve public safety and provide an economic boost to our state.

The Joint Legislative Education Oversight Committee meets tomorrow where members will hear several presentations including one on Read To Achieve Summer Reading Camps. For more background on that controversial law, check out this piece by Policy Watch education reporter Lindsay Wagner.

We’re a little more than a month away from the short legislative session, and many veteran educators are still wondering if they will see a raise this year. Rep. Grier Martin weighed in this weekend on News and Views with Chris Fitzsimon:
YouTube Preview Image

Education funding will also be front and center Friday when the UNC Board of Governors meets. NC Student Power Union will be outside petitioning the board to reduce tuition and increase financial aid incrementally so that, by 2020, the incoming class of all NC public universities will graduate free of student debt.

Also on Friday, bluesy folk rocker Marc Black promises to deliver an upbeat concert to benefit the work of the Frack Free NC Alliance. Black is perhaps best known for his anti-fracking movement anthem “No Fracking Way.”

YouTube Preview Image

And we’ll leave you with one final reminder with today’s lunch links: Those wishing to vote in the May primary must be registered to vote by this Friday, April 11.

 

Hope everyone’s enjoying their lunch, and this glorious spring weather, today.

First, the Charlotte Observer had this intriguing article about claims that a Charlotte hotel representative was able to cut corners obtaining a liquor license.

Also in Charlotte, StudentFirst Academy, a troubled charter school in its first year announced that it will shut down at the end of next week, leaving 300-plus students and their families to quickly find new schools just a few months away from the end of the school year. The school had major financial issues, and state education officials were slated to begin talks about revoking the school’s charter.

I wrote about a similar issue in the fall, when a Kinston charter school suddenly shut its door at the beginning of the school year.

Check out this compelling graphic over at the Atlantic that maps out how segregated the poor are in different parts of the country. Some of the worst segregation, reflected in the dark blues, is clustered in the northeastern part of the nation. Click here for more information about how the data was compiled.

Source: The Atlantic, theatlanticcities.com

Ever dream of checking out and quitting your job? The New York Times had this quirky video profile about an eccentric roller-blader in California who, it turns out, used to be a neurologist until giving it all up to roller-blade.

Fear not, I’m not just trying to make you watch a video about a California hippie. Like many things in life, there’s a North Carolina connection.  Turns out the doctor-turned-eccentric roller blader John Kitchin grew up on a North Carolina dairy farm.

YouTube Preview Image

 

WheatiesHope you ate your Wheaties this morning! This is going to be a busy Monday – so try to keep up!

First, today is the final day for open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act.  Chris Fitzsimon’s Monday numbers column has a fascinating look at the ACA as we get down to the wire.

Of course, there will always be some folks who think the ACA should be repealed. Among them, Senator Richard Burr who is speaking at a Raleigh luncheon at this hour detailing his replacement ideas in the  Burr-Coburn-Hatch Health Reform Plan.

But here’s one number to keep in mind at the health care debate rages on: 9.5 million. That’s the number of Americans previously uninsured who now have gotten health coverage under Obamacare, according to a new analysis.WSJ-3

Let’s stick with one more number before we scoot on to what else is happening today. And that number is 11,300.

That’s the number of jobs North Carolina lost in February.

Yes, our unemployment has fallen in the past two months, but The Wall Street Journal notes that North Carolina led the U.S. in job losses last month.

What else should you be watching today?

The State Board of Education is holding planning and work sessions today and tomorrow at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

Members of the NC Educator Effectiveness and Compensation Task Force meet this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. to discuss alternative teacher pay models that could be linked to student performance.

Judy Kidd, President of the Classroom Teachers Association of NC, is a member of that task force. Kidd joined us over the weekend on NC Policy Watch’s radio show to discuss tenure and teacher compensation. Kidd also shared her thoughts on Governor McCrory’s pay proposal that rewards new teachers, but does not (as of yet) extend to veteran teachers.

Click below for an excerpt from that interview or here for the full 12-minute segment.

YouTube Preview Image

The Statesville’s Record & Landmark reports that local education officials there are also skeptical of the governor’s ideas for teacher pay, which he outlined last week during the annual meeting of the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce.

3-31-14 NCPW cartoonThis evening Charlotte’s City Council holds a special meeting to discuss how to handle the vacancy in the mayor’s office. You’ll recall last week, Patrick Cannon resigned his duties after he was arrested on charges of public corruption.

Charlotte Observer editorial page editor Taylor Batten’s has an excellent piece – 10 takeaways from the Cannon allegations- that everyone should read as the Queen City tries to regain its footing.

And  the NC NAACP and the Forward Together Moral Movement will join with environmental and health experts this evening for a town hall in Eden, as they focus on coal ash disposal and the clean-up of the Dan River.

Finally, we’ll close out Lunch Links with a little Herb Alpert. The gifted trumpeter/bandleader is celebrating his 74th birthday today. Enjoy!

YouTube Preview Image