News

The struggling charter school Entrepreneur High School has shut its doors, leaving dozens of students scrambling to find new schools to finish out the academic year.

Tim Markley, New Hanover schools superintendent and a reviewer of Entrepreneur’s application, told N.C. Policy Watch he didn’t think the school should have opened.

“The application [for Entrepreneur] came forward two years in a row and I voted against it twice. The entire board turned it down the first time,” said Markley, who previously served on the N.C. Charter Schools Advisory Council.

“Honestly, I thought the financials were’t there,” said Markley. “Their plan for implementing a vocational program wasn’t there. The plan included a lot of vocational teachers, but didn’t exhibit an understanding of the business side of running a school. I was critical of it both times.”

Markley’s assessment was overruled by two other advisory council members who decided to allow Entrepreneur to open, even though they also expressed reservations about the financial and academic plans of the school that can be read in the school’s application here.

Entrepreneur High School is a vocational public charter school that had hoped to enroll 180 students in its first year. But it only attracted 78 students to start with last September, said the head of the N.C. Office of Charter Schools, Dr. Joel Medley. By January, only 31 students were attending classes.

Those low enrollment numbers — and the fact that the school continued to lose students throughout the fall — left the school in dire financial straits.

Speaking of Dr. Hans Plotseneder, the founder of the school who was fired by its board just before Christmas, Markley said, “he had a lot of passion for the school, but he didn’t have the wherewithal to start a school.”

Andrew Dunn of the Charlotte Observer reported today that Plotseneder plans to reopen the school with a combination of state funds he believes he can secure next month, loans, and a plan to sublease part of the school’s building. His hopes to have a charter management organization (CMO) take over the school eventually.

 

NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina’s recovery from the Great Recession has been slow and uneven across the state. While some cities have rebounded and are thriving, many communities—particularly communities of color— continue to struggle due to a shortage of good-paying jobs.

It is in this context of uneven opportunity and access that our state and nation should not just reflect on the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. but also act to build a more equitable economy.

Ensuring that all people—regardless of where they live, their skin color or their background—can get an education find work that enables them to support their families and get ahead is increasingly the only way to create sustained economic growth. The academic literature and the experience of various small-scale policy efforts have increasingly shown that the pursuit of more equitable economic outcomes yields stronger and more sustained growth that benefits everyone. In North Carolina alone, closing the difference just in wages across racial groups would grow the economy by $63.5 billion.

North Carolina will be increasingly diverse in the years ahead. By 2040, 48.2 percent of the population will be from communities of color. Yet differences in access to and success in school, the labor market, and asset building, for example, have meant that the future strength of the economy is eroding as we underinvest today in opportunities for communities of color. Read More

News

Joseph Sledge, convicted in 1978 of the murders of two eastern North Carolina women and in jail since, may now be just a few short days to freedom.

The 70-year-old Georgia native, who has steadfastly maintained his innocence, has a court date this Friday with three judges who have the authority to exonerate him, according to this report in the News & Observer.

The hearing follows a December finding by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission that Sledge’s case warranted further judicial review. As the N&O noted:

Investigators from the innocence commission found no physical evidence tying Sledge to the slayings. A hair left on one of the victim’s exposed torso revealed a partial DNA profile that does not belong to Sledge. Investigators have yet to identify another possible killer.

The prosecutor on the case, Columbus County District Attorney Jon David, has yet to say what his position is on Sledge’s fate, but can consent to his exoneration, as other prosecutors have done in recent innocence proceedings involving other wrongfully convicted men.

Read more about Sledge’s case here.
Commentary

If you’re still scratching your head trying to figure out what was behind last week’s decision by the UNC Board of Governor’s to end its relationship with system President Tom Ross, be sure to read today’s Fitzsimon File where Chris works to unravel the mystery. Here’s an excerpt:

A politically appointed board unexpectedly fires a popular and respected president with no notice or no explanation and nobody even owns up to pushing for him to resign.

The head of the board then insists that it wasn’t politics that prompted the president’s dismissal, and says his age wasn’t a factor either, and then proceeds to talk about the incredible job the president is doing.

There is a conspiracy here all right, a carefully orchestrated plan by right-wing political interests to complete their takeover of the state by firing the head of the university system, a public institution that they have been seeking to dismantle for years.

Read Chris’ full column here, and click below to hear Board Chair John Fennebresque try to explain their decision to part ways with President Ross:
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Commentary

Seats still remain for the first Crucial Conversation luncheon of 2015 next Wednesday – “Fraud in the workplace: How numerous North Carolina employers are cheating their competitors and stealing from employees and taxpayers (and what should be done about it)”

Click here to register

There’s a multimillion dollar crime spree underway in North Carolina. Unfortunately, save for the efforts of a few intrepid journalists and lawyers, it’s a problem that’s mostly being ignored and swept under the rug. The issue is wage theft and the “misclassification” of workers by employers. Mandy Locke

Please join us as we explore this huge and poorly understood problem and how state lawmakers and regulators might properly address it with award winning Raleigh News & Observer investigative reporter Mandy Locke.

Locke will be joined by Raleigh businessman Doug Burton, President and Owner of Whitman Masonry. Burton is one of the numerous North Carolina employers who treats his workers fairly, plays by the rules and is regularly disadvantaged as a result of the state’s lax law enforcement in this area.

When: Wednesday, January 28th, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Space is limited – preregistration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register

Questions?? Contact Rob Schofield at 919-861-2065 or rob@ncpolicywatch.com