Commentary

Caitlyn Jenner has idea for fellow Republicans on bathroom safety (Video)

In case you missed it, be sure to check out the video below from the national political news site Politico featuring Caitlyn Jenner’s observations on the question of whether transgender Americans should have access to the restrooms that correspond with their gender identity. Jenner, a Republican, made the comments at the national Republican convention in Cleveland. It would be fascinating to hear what Jenner’s fellow GOP’ers in the North Carolina delegation would have to say.

Commentary, News

Krzyzewski, Gottfried, other NC coaches condemn HB2

Image: www.CoachK.com

Image: www.CoachK.com

Mark Gottfried, the new NC State men's basketball coach, addresses the media during the press conference.

Image: www.ncsu.edu

In case you missed it late yesterday, Duke men’s basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski and N.C. State men’s hoops coach Mark Gottfried have added their names to the list of prominent people panning North Carolina’s LGBT discrimination law, HB2.

USA Today reports:

As Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski prepares to take the U.S. men’s national basketball team to the Rio Olympics, his thoughts turned this week to his home of North Carolina and the controversial anti-LGBT law that was passed in March.

“It’s an embarrassing bill,” Krzyzewski told USA TODAY Sports. “That’s all I’m going to say about it.”

Krzyzewski spoke out less than a week after the Blue Devils released their schedule for the coming season and it was revealed Albany will not be traveling to Durham as planned to play on Nov. 12 as part of the Hall of Fame tournament. The change is the result of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order banning publicly funded, non-essential travel to North Carolina as result of House Bill 2….

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has said he plans to move the 2017 All-Star game out of Charlotte, which would cost the city an estimated $100 million, should HB2 not be rescinded.

North Carolina State coach Mark Gottfried said he was “appalled” by the bill and is embarrassed when he goes on recruiting visits and parents ask about it.

“I’m against any law that allows discrimination, whether that’s based on race, gender, sexual orientation,” Gottfried told USA TODAY Sports. “I don’t understand how someone can support this. I think the people at N.C. State, we believe in inclusion. Being a resident of the state, for me and my family, it’s been frustrating.”

Other coaches throughout the state have expressed their disappointment with the bill, including North Carolina’s Roy Williams and Elon’s Matt Matheny, who grew up in North Carolina and has coached there since the early 1990s, previously serving at Davidson as an assistant.

“What I love about coaching is that I can sit down with players of different backgrounds,” Matheny said. “It’s important to expose players to what’s going on outside the basketball court. It’s important that they’re aware of issues that our state and our country faces. As coaches, we’re the leaders. It’s important that we as coaches at programs — big or small — use our platform to promote a positive message.”

Commentary

Math is hard: Civitas uses backwards math to tell false story on public schools budgets

A recent post from Bob Luebke at the right-wing Civitas Institute incorrectly argues that spending on public schools has increased since Republicans took control of the North Carolina General Assembly [update: Civitas has  since deleted the post, a cached version of which can be found at this link].  The post makes the absurd claim that the budget for public schools has increased in both overall and per-pupil spending, even when adjusted for inflation.  There is one big problem with this analysis, however: Bob Luebke doesn’t understand how inflation works.

As most folks understand, prices for goods and services rise over time.  Due to inflation, a dollar in 2016 buys you less than a dollar in 2005.  Or to put it another way that almost every person reading this already understands, a person who earned $50,000 in 2005 is not better off if he is still earning $50,000 in 2016.  While that’s a simple concept that most of us understand intuitively, it is apparently disputed by the free-market experts at Civitas.

Looking at the Consumer Price Index – the same measure of inflation used by Civitas in their analysis – inflation has risen 22% since 2005.  Returning to the example of the person earning $50,000 in 2005, the figure needs to be increased by 22% to make comparisons to salaries in 2016.  The same holds true when making comparisons of historical budget figures.  If North Carolina spent $6.9 billion on public schools in FY 05-06, that figure needs to be increased by 22% to compare it to a dollar in 2016.  That is, $6.9 billion in FY 05-06 is the equivalent of $8.4 billion today.

The Civitas analysis, however, does the opposite.  Failing to understand that inflation means that things get more expensive over time, not less, they mistakenly decrease prior year budget figures in their attempt to adjust for inflation.  In doing the math incorrectly, they obviously reach conclusions about the history of public school funding that are laughably wrong.  Claiming that their “facts destroy myths,” they pretend that funding for public schools has actually increased over time on both an overall and per-student basis.  Based on their backwards math, they accuse Democrats and liberals who have complained of shrinking public schools budgets of being “flat wrong.”

Obviously, the only folks who are “flat wrong” are the folks at Civitas.  When adjusted for inflation, public schools budgets are still well below the levels seen in FY 08-09 and FY 09-10:

Historic Funcing - Inflation-Adjusted

Read more

Commentary

Nation’s most conservative circuit court strikes down Texas’ voter id law. Implications for NC?

Voting rightsAs challenges to the voter ID laws in North Carolina and elsewhere continue, it is of note that, today, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals — a groups of judges that likely comprise the nation’s most conservative federal appeals panel — affirmed a lower court decision to strike down Texas’ voter ID requirement. Together, the various opinions in the decision run to 203 pages, so there’s lots off deciphering ahead. This is the initial quick take the Texas Tribune:

“Texas’ voter identification law violates the U.S. law prohibiting racial discrimination in elections, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday. 

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed previous rulings that the 2011 voter ID law — which stipulates the types of photo identification election officials can and cannot accept at the polls — does not comply with the Voting Rights Act.

The full court’s ruling delivered the strongest blow yet to what is widely viewed as the nation’s strictest voter ID law. Under the law, most citizens (some, like people with disabilities, can be exempt) must show one of a handful of types of identification before their ballots can be counted: a state driver’s license or ID card, a concealed handgun license, a U.S. passport, a military ID card, or a U.S citizenship certificate with a photo.

Texas’ losing streak continued in its efforts to defend its law, fighting challenges from the U.S. Department of Justice, minority groups and voting rights advocates.”

This section from the majority opinion (pages 21 and 22), however, sure seems as if it would be relevant here (note – citations have been omitted): Read more

Commentary

The Right’s war on higher education in NC continues

Higher Education Works FdtnThe good people at the Higher Education Works Foundation are out with another fine essay documenting and critiquing the latest installment in the Right’s ideological assault on public higher education in North Carolina. This is from a new and well-footnoted post entitled “A continuing retreat”:

“North Carolina’s public universities are obliged to cut $62.8 million this year.  That’s what lawmakers required in the state budget signed into law this month.

It’s not a devastating amount.  Chancellors will work to limit the damage for students, researchers, and programs that directly impact regional economies.

But it’s yet another decision to disinvest from a University system that has already trimmed $700 million since 2008.  And it didn’t have to happen.

Legislators entered the budget session with a hefty surplus, after all. They could have avoided the cuts and still had more than $300 million left. They could have used the state’s improving tax revenue to reinvest in institutions that have seen state support per student decline 20% since 2008.

Instead, they chose to continue a trend of disinvestment from public higher education, a trend that has directly contributed to the rising cost of tuition.”

The post then goes on to take the lead cheerleaders for the cuts — the transparently partisan Pope Center for to Dismantle Higher Education — to task:

“Writing in praise of higher-ed cutbacks on behalf of the Pope Center for Higher Education, Jenna Ashley Robinson says such cuts help balance the budget and force universities to ‘eliminate wasteful and inefficient spending on campus.’

Leaving aside that the state budget was plenty balanced without cuts to education, Robinson ignores how deeply state institutions already trimmed expenses.

From 2008-09 to 2013-14, North Carolina’s public universities produced 18% more graduates while spending 15% less cost per degree when accounting for inflation – they produced more graduates for less money.

But eventually, less funding simply means less higher education.  Less money for teachers, less money for life-changing research, less money to create ripples across regional economies, less money for the high-quality education North Carolina needs to remain competitive.

The Pope Center’s Robinson calls for exactly that:  Recurring cuts, implemented year after year, regardless of budget needs or education goals.

That kind of ideological retreat from public education makes little sense at a time when North Carolina is growing, when the state’s economy is signaling a need for more well-educated workers, and public universities are reeling from almost a decade of disinvestment.”

Click here to read the entire post, the footnotes and a powerful chart documenting the cuts.