Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger does’t have to go very far to see the effect of the education budgets he and his Republican colleagues in Raleigh have passed in the last four years. The Winston-Salem Journal reported this weekend that the schools in Berger’s home county of Rockingham are struggling with the very basics.

A bathroom that doesn’t have toilet paper. A classroom lacking textbooks. A copy machine without paper. In some Rockingham County schools, there’s not enough money to buy these — and other things.

The Rockingham schools are receiving $55 less per pupil from the state than they received two years ago and voters defeated a proposal for a quarter-cent increase in the sales tax in November, thanks no doubt to the anti-tax sentiment whipped up by Republicans and their Tea Party allies on Right Wing Avenue.

And now the students don’t have textbooks and can’t make any copies.  The story  says that school officials are looking for a vacant warehouse to use to collect donated classroom supplies.

That’s what it has come to in this new era in North Carolina.

Public schools are the new charity in town because the folks running North Carolina refuse to adequately fund them.


School vouchersLate last week the state Supreme Court moved on the school voucher case now pending there, allowing the State Education Assistance Authority to undertake administrative steps needed to get the program on track for an August 2015 disbursement of funds, but otherwise keeping in place an order preventing any such disbursement until the justices say otherwise.

The court also expedited the appeal process and set February 17, 2015 for argument.

In papers filed Dec. 10,  Sen. Pres. Phil Berger,  Speaker Thom Tillis and parents who intervened in the case asked the court to allow the program to move ahead full throttle while the appeal is pending — including the disbursement of funds in August 2015 in the event the court has not rendered its decision.

The court granted that request only to the extent of allowing program administration to move forward — including the application process scheduled to run from Jan. 20 – Feb. 27, 2015.



North Carolina Republicans, including Governor Pat McCrory and U.S. Senator-elect Thom Tillis, gathered in Asheville this past weekend to listen to former Republican House Majority Leader Tom DeLay hold forth at an annual event held by former North Carolina Congressman Charles Taylor.

News stories from the event report that Delay called President Obama names as a part of his presentation.

“He doesn’t lie about being a Marxist. He’s proud of it. In fact, I think he’s a Muslim, but he definitely is a Marxist.”

Wonder if the governor and the new Senator agree, since they sat idly by while DeLay was spewing his nonsense. Either way, it’s nice company that McCrory and Tillis are keeping.

  • Common Core – The state commission charged with reviewing and replacing the Common CommonCore_NC1Core State Standards meets again on Monday afternoon. You may recall at its last meeting, the Academic Standards Review Commission voiced concerns that without a dedicated budget it would be near impossible to bring in experts and accurately assess what benchmarks students should master in place of the Common Core Standards. We’ll see if at Monday’s meeting Senator Jerry Tillman was able to find the group operating funds.
  • Sea Level Rise – The N.C. Coastal Resources Commission’s Science Panel will meet Monday in New Bern to continue work on an update of the panel’s sea-level rise study report. Members are tasked with looking at sea-level rise over the next 30 years. Here’s their first crack at the sea-level rise report, dating back to 2010.
  • Off-roading on the coast – The House Select Committee on the Use of Off-Road Vehicles on Cape Lookout National Seashore will hold a public hearing Tuesday from 1:00 to 4:00 p. m., in the auditorium at the Roanoke Island Campus of the College of the Albemarle in Manteo. The meeting will consist of presentations related to economic impacts that may result from the National Park Service’s (NPS) Draft Off-Road Vehicle Management Plan/Environmental 5-27-14-NCPW-CARTOONImpact Statement (Plan) for the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Find more information here:
  • Fracking rules – This month’s Rules Review Commission meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m. Wednesday as members review the 124 proposed fracking rules filed by the Mining and Energy Commission. An agenda for the meeting can be found here:
  • Abortion clinic rules – Friday will be the first public hearing on new rules put forth by the Department of Health and Human Services to increase the accountability at abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood in NC, NARAL Pro-Choice NC, ACLU-NC, NC Women United, NC NOW, and NC Women Matter will be present at Friday’s 9:00 a.m. hearing on the Dorothea Dix Campus.