Commentary

It’s bad enough that North Carolina will be turning over the future of thousands of its children and tens of millions in taxpayer dollars to a predatory Wall Street company in the name of “school choice,” but this morning’s report from NC Policy Watch reporter Lindsay Wagner that state officials have waived attendance taking requirements for the state’s new “virtual charter schools” is simply and absudly beyond the pale. This is from Wagner’s story:

“The North Carolina State Board of Education quietly approved a policy last month that could allow the state’s two brand new virtual charter schools to avoid recording and reporting daily student attendance, and stipulates that the virtual schools would only lose their state funding for a student if he or she fails to show any “student activity,” —as defined by the for-profit charter operators—for at least ten consecutive days….

Previously the online virtual charter schools, which are taking part in a pilot program authorized by the legislature last year and set to begin this fall, would have had to record daily student attendance using the state’s online reporting software—like traditional brick and mortar public schools—to comply with compulsory attendance laws.

Via conference calls before the start of school in late August, both the Charter School Advisory Board and the State Board of Education quickly approved a new policy that doesn’t require the virtual schools to record and report daily student attendance to the Department of Public Instruction.

That change came at the behest of officials with the North Carolina Virtual Academy, the school backed by controversial for-profit online school operator K12, Inc., who complained to state officials that recording and reporting daily student attendance through the online reporting software that traditional schools use didn’t work for them, according to DPI’s interim director of the state’s charter school office Adam Levinson.”

The story goes on to explain that while schools will be required to monitor “student activity,” the requirement is vague and basically left up to the schools themselves. In Michigan, where such laissez faire policy was in effect, the results were predictably dreadful.

The bottom line: The move to sell off our public schools to the privatizers and corporate vultures continues apace. Read the entire story by clicking here.

Commentary

lottery logo.jpgJust when you think it couldn’t get any more offensive, state policymakers and the folks at the North Carolina “Education” Lottery keep outdoing themselves.

First, the Senate votes to increase lottery advertising to convince more people to throw away their money because the state refuses to raise revenue fairly and honestly. It’s no secret that low-income people play the lottery disproportionately more as a percentage of their income.

Then we hear that lawmakers are considering allowing lottery ticket sales in liquor stores and on terminals in bars and apps on smartphones, anything to entice people to play.

Now comes the news that lottery officials are selling tickets that smell like barbecue when you scratch them.

Sure does make you proud to live in such a classy state, doesn’t it?

 

 

Commentary

McCrory_budget305-aGov. Pat McCrory often seems a step behind the happenings in the General Assembly. That was true again Tuesday morning as McCrory met with reporters after the Council of State meeting to discuss the budget talks.

McCrory said he supports funding teacher assistants and giving local school systems the flexibility to use the TA funding any way they see fit.  He has expressed that sentiment before as a way to settle the differences between the House and Senate budgets.

The Senate budget would eliminate funding for 8,500 TAs over the next two years and use the money to reduce class size in the early grades while the House wants to maintain funding for TAs at its current level after several years of  sharp reductions.

The latest Senate offer includes full funding for the TAs but no flexibility for the local schools to shift the money to pay for additional teachers or other classroom needs. The Senate offer also includes cutting funding for some other education programs supported by the House.

McCrory didn’t react to last night’s Senate offer that is creating a buzz at the Legislative Building. So it’s not clear if he supports it or not. Or is aware of it.

McCrory also told reporters that he has been serving as a facilitator for the two sides in the budget dispute.

“I’ve been involved in, more than anything, facilitating two groups that are, at times, in disagreement,” the governor said, “not only between the two bodies but at times even within the two bodies themselves.

You’d think McCrory would be “more than anything” pushing lawmakers to support his own agenda. You know, like a leader would do.
Commentary

The fossil fuel defenders at the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity are out with another “you can’t make this stuff up” claim in their never-ending battle to kill sustainable energy. Last week, the group issued a statement in which it made the following amazing claim:

“It’s time for lawmakers to make responsible decisions about the future of North Carolina’s electrical grid. The subsidies and mandates for expensive, so-called green energy are no longer a sustainable path or an acceptable burden for taxpayers. Americans for Prosperity has advocated separately for the end of North Carolina’s renewable energy tax credit and the Renewable Portfolio Standard. It is morally repugnant that some lawmakers are now trying to maintain both costly laws.”

Uh…Earth to AFP: Here’s what’s “morally repugnant” when it comes to the planet’s consumption of energy: the hundreds of billions of dollars that all of us pay to deal with the destructive impact of fossil fuels. As we reported back in May:

“Fossil fuels aren’t cheaper than renewables. As a new and powerful report from the International Monetary Fund demonstrates convincingly, the true cost of fossil fuels to society is vastly higher when one figures in the massive public subsidies that are expended in the form of environmental damage, health impacts and the public costs of dealing with both.

As CNBC reported Monday:

‘Governments around the world charge prices for energy that do not account for its harmful environmental, health and other side effects, amounting to a $5.3 trillion ‘post-tax’ subsidy this year, the International Monetary Fund said in a report on Monday.

The IMF said China in particular failed to charge its more than 1 billion consumers for the pollution that comes from heavy use of fossil fuels, adding up to a $2.3 trillion subsidy this year.

The United States was the second-biggest offender, with an estimated $699 billion subsidy, followed by Russia, the European Union, India and Japan.’

You got that? The nations of the world are effectively spending around 6.5% of their gross domestic product dealing with the effects of fossil fuel pollution, but because most fail to include it in the upfront price charged for fossil fuels, we labor under a wildly false impression of their true cost. If the Americans built an extra $699 billion per year into the upfront price of fossil fuels instead of just paying it later, you can rest assured that the “free market” would produce some different results. In comparison, the subsidies provided to the renewable energy industry – an industry with a comparatively tiny environmental impact – are laughably insignificant.”

Commentary

In case you missed it last week, it’s hard to imagine that there was a more hateful or offensive comment on the tragic murder of two Virginia journalists than the one promoted on the John Locke Foundation’s “Locker Room” blog by George Leef, Director of Research at the Pope Center for Higher Education. Here is Leef’s entire post:

“Law professor Elizabeth Price Foley nails it on Instapundit:

‘We have all encountered angry, entitled individuals like this. They aren’t just toxic to work with; they’re potentially dangerous. We typically give them wide berth, just to avoid the hurling of hurtful ‘racism!” accusations and potential violence that simmers just below the surface. Individuals like this may get reprimanded or bounced around (for the sanity of coworkers) but they rarely get fired, for fear of lawsuits.  This television station was frankly brave to fire the guy.

On a broader level, Flanagan is a sad but ineluctable product of the progressive left’s incessant race-baiting and claims of minority entitlement. He is, essentially, the love child of Al Sharpton and President Obama (with Elizabeth Warren as the surrogate).’”

Happily, Foley’s statement and Leef’s endorsement of it are so deeply offensive and downright idiotic that no one in their right mind is paying it any attention. That said, Art Pope ought to be profoundly embarrassed that any person representing a group named after his family would stoop to promoting such a monstrous comment at any time or in any place.