Mark your calendar for four important resistance movement events

Four items for your resistance movement calendar at the start of spring, 2018:

#1 – Celebrate the anniversary of the ACA. Despite endless attacks and efforts to undermine it, tomorrow, March 23 is the 8th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act. If you’re in the Triangle, come celebrate at 10:30 AM at Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 E. Martin Street, Raleigh. The ACA was signed into law eight years ago on March 23, 2010. Since that time, over 20 million people have gained coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace or Medicaid expansion, reducing the number of uninsured people in the United States to a historic low and providing unprecedented numbers with the opportunity for better health and a longer life.

Click here for more information and to RSVP.

#2 – March for our Lives this Saturday March 24. Inspired by the students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School and in cooperation with the national March for Our Lives event in Washington, DC, a group of concerned Wake County high school students have organized a March for Our Lives event, where they will be conveying their demands for stronger gun control legislation to their lawmakers. Currently, over 2,000 people have already committed to joining the march, and organizers expect more than 3,000 people to attend. The March will be held on March 24, 2018.

The March will begin at 10 AM at City Plaza with a speech by US Congressman David Price and with a reading of the names of the victims of the Parkland mass shooting. Participants will then march to Halifax Mall, where organizers have planned a rally featuring speakers, musicians, and a video tribute to the victims of the Parkland shooting.

Click here for more information on the Raleigh event and here for details on other similar events throughout North Carolina.

#3 – Good Friday Vigil for Criminal Justice Reform. Join the NC NAACP, local branches of the NAACP and local leaders as they stand in unity as a community against wrongful convictions across the state and this nation on Friday March 30. Locations: Johnston Correctional Institution, 2465 US-70, Smithfield, NC 27577; Pasquotank Correctional Institute, 527 Commerce Dr, Elizabeth City, NC 27909; Piedmont Correctional Institute,1245 Camp Road Salisbury NC 28147;  Albemarle Correctional Institute,44150 Airport Rd, New London, NC 28127.

#4 – March for Science April 14. The Raleigh March for Science is a nonpartisan, family-friendly event that will attract scientists, students, activists and stargazers to celebrate and stand up for science. It will be held Saturday, April 14, at Halifax Mall in downtown Raleigh.

In 2017, more than 5,000 people from the Triangle gathered in solidarity with one million people at 600 locations worldwide for the March for Science, marking the largest event for science advocacy in history. This year, 200 cities have already signed on to unite in a day for science advocacy.

This year’s theme, Science for Everyone – Everyone for Science, highlights the importance of making science accessible to people from all backgrounds, while shining a light on the pivotal role that evidence-based science plays in protecting North Carolina’s natural resources

In addition to a program of prominent speakers, a Kids for Science Corner will host hands-on science fun, and there will be tables for voter registration and various advocacy groups. The Raleigh Kids March for Science kicks off the rally with a parade around Halifax Mall led by kids and accompanied by the Paperhand Puppet Intervention.

To learn more about the Raleigh March for Science, visit or email


Each win matters: Public education advocates reflect on a year of struggle to solve the class size crisis

[This is the fourth installment in a series of brief essays by some of the North Carolina advocates who helped lead the fight to repeal the General Assembly’s unfunded mandate to reduce class sizes in grades K-3. You can read previous installments by clicking here, here and here.]

We Must Do Better By Our Kids: Luann Bryan

I am a Nationally Board Certified educator with 14 years’ experience. I am a native Durhamite teaching 4th grade at Hillandale Elementary in Durham. Our fourth grade team had all been preparing for the eventual influx of more students in the fall with the class size mandate. Now that we have a partial ‘fix’ we’re still concerned about overcrowding and the space needed to eventually prepare for the class size caps.

I’m also disappointed this ever became the issue it did. It caused so much anxiety for educators and there was no reason for it. Currently, I have room for three more desks without stepping over other students to get to them. I have no idea how they expected us to eventually fit more children in these classrooms. We’re supposed to be teaching technology in our 4th and 5th grade classes and having overcrowded classrooms is not an effective way to do that. If we believe that all students, regardless of needs or ability, should be mainstreamed into a single class and that it is the responsibility of the teacher to differentiate instruction, then we must understand the challenges overcrowding poses. With 25 students, differentiated instruction is hard, with 30, it’s nearly impossible, with 40+ students, it simply will not happen. If we want smaller class sizes, they must give the school districts the funding needed to make it happen.

Behavior management also requires individualized approaches, all of which is impossible with a crowded classroom. Being successful with implementing differentiated instruction requires you to be incredibly creative, developing and providing diverse materials and, a considerable amount of planning time must go into this. The time that our students are at their Specials is the time we use as a planning period. If we lose that time we lose that planning time and the level of instruction will suffer. We already use weekends and weekday evenings to lesson plan, grade, communicate with parents and prep for the day. Without that planning period, we would simply not have enough hours in the day to do our job effectively.

Another issue often overlooked in this conversation is that we use an integrated curriculum. This means that much of what the students are exposed to in art, music and PE is reinforced throughout the day and in their other subjects. This approach builds the whole child, which is so important. If a child is struggling in one area, they still have the opportunity to excel and grow confident in another. The ‘fix’ was needed but the mandate should never have been passed without the funding schools require.

I am incredibly disillusioned with the current state of support for public education. It truly feels like our lawmakers are trying to destroy it. Our kids need us, now more than ever but it feels as if we have our hands tied behind our backs. I would challenge any of our lawmakers to come into our classrooms. They should see for themselves what teachers are up against and the struggles our students are facing. They can and must take action to restore public education in North Carolina. Our kids deserve better than this.

Courts & the Law, News

Cooper appoints AJ Fletcher’s Circosta to Elections, Ethics Board

Gov. Roy Cooper didn’t waste any time appointing a ninth member to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

He named Damon Circosta to the seat less than a day after the newly-appointed eight members of the Board nominated him and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell.

“It’s unbelievable to watch Republicans try to rig the rules of a system they’ve already gamed,” said Cooper’s spokesman, Ford Porter. “Damon Circosta is a qualified choice who was put forward unanimously by the Democrats and Republicans on the board.”

The eight Board members — four Democrats and four Republicans — met for the first time Wednesday after Cooper appointed them the previous Friday. They deadlocked five times along party lines before compromising on Circosta, the Democrats’ choice, and Mitchell, the Republicans’ choice.

NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse tweeted after Cooper’s appointment that they were disappointed he would reject a a former Chief Justice associated with the Democratic Party.

“Democrat Election Board members fought transparency, openness and inclusion, and rejected efforts to reach TRUE consensus,” his tweet stated.

Circosta is the Executive Director and Vice President of the AJ Fletcher Foundation. [Disclosure: Policy Watch was originally founded as a project of the Fletcher Foundation in 2004 and became a part of the North Carolina Justice Center in 2007. The Justice Center remains a Fletcher Foundation grantee.]

It’s not yet clear when the full Board will have it’s first meeting, but members said Wednesday there was a significant backlog of work that needed to get done after the Board remained vacant for more than a year.


Historical Commission hears public comments on removing Confederate monuments

Nearly 60 people came to speak at Wednesday’s public hearing on removing three Confederate monuments from the Capitol Square in downtown Raleigh. Most of the speakers, who skewed older and white, said they were against moving the statues.

Boyd Sturges, attorney for the Sons of
Confederate Veterans, spoke against the removal of
the Confederate monuments.

Boyd Sturges, attorney for the Sons of Confederate Veterans, was spoke first – and set the tone of much of what followed.

“My client can give many sound philosophical, intellectual and historical reasons why you should not move these or any other historical statues,” Sturges said. “However,  they don’t have to do that here – because the law clearly protects these statues.”

Sturges was referring a 2015 law that makes it more difficult to remove such statues or “objects of remembrance” – passed in response to a growing movement to move or remove Confederate monuments. The law makes such requests the business of the North Carolina Historical Commission, whose special task force on the issue arranged Wednesday’s public hearing at the State Archives and History/State Library Building in downtown Raleigh.

“You don’t have to like a law to have to follow a law,” Sturges said. “Otherwise you have anarchy and mob rule. Anarchy and mob rule is not how North Carolinians conduct themselves.”

In his comments Rick New of Jacksonville represented a strain among the crowd who seemed to think the commission, by taking up the matter as they must under the law, was somehow violating state law.

“It looks like what you’re trying to do is circumventilate [sic] the law, ” New said. “The law is clear.  It says when you relocate a statue, it has to be in an equal place of prominence. There is no equal place in North Carolina other than the capitol grounds.” Read more


Seats still available for tomorrow’s luncheon on “welfare for the wealthy”

Join us for a very special Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Prof. Christopher Faricy discusses his book “Welfare for the Wealthy: Parties, Social Spending, and Inequality in the United States”

Click here to register

Turns out, everyone loves big government. Dr. Chris Faricy shows that Republicans regularly enact tax breaks like 401k and 529 savings plans that use the government to redistribute wealth, and when these expenditures are counted as social welfare programs, the United States spends like many European countries that conservatives tend to decry as graveyards of freedom. The problem is, tax breaks are often inexact tools that don’t direct resources to where they are most needed. In this moment when conservatives at the federal and state levels are taking the long knives to the social safety net, Dr. Faircy’s work shows that the same forces often have no problem with big spending, so long as it happens quietly in the tax code, but that approach doesn’t do nearly as much to address poverty or reduce income inequality.

Professor Christopher Faricy is an associate professor of political science and public policy at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and the author of Welfare for the Wealthy: Parties, Social Spending, and Inequality in the United States (Cambridge University Press 2015). Fairicy’s research areas include public policy, political economy, political institutions, and public opinion, and he is broadly interested in examining the politics of income inequality. Welfare for the Wealthy examines how political party power influences both public spending and private subsidies and how, in turn, these changes affect inequality.

Don’t miss this important and timely event!

When: Thursday, March 21 | 12:00 pm

Where: Junior League of Raleigh, 711 Hillsborough St.

Space is limited – Click here to register

Cost: $15, admission includes a box lunch. Scholarships available.

Questions: Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or