News

While same-sex couples finally won the right to marry last week in North Carolina, a Catawba County school decided to cancel a student theater club’s production of the romantic comedy Almost, Maine, which has a scene in which two male characters fall in love.

Principal Rob Bliss of Maiden High School issued a statement on the matter. From WSOC:

“Our faculty and staff are still in review of potential performances to be conducted by our students this fall. At this time, no final decision has been made regarding whether and what drama performances are to be presented this fall. In regards to the request for students to perform the play “Almost Maine,” careful review and consideration was given to the contents of this play. The play contained sexually-explicit overtones and multiple sexual innuendos that are not aligned with our mission and educational objectives.

“As principal of Maiden High School, I have an obligation to ensure that all material, including drama performances is appropriate and educationally sound for students of all ages.”

However, Conner Baker, a junior and the student director for Main Street Players, the school’s theater club, told ThinkProgess that both Bliss and Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman had previously given permission for the production. ThinkProgress reports:

Baker told ThinkProgress that the Players had sought approval for Almost, Maine earlier in the school year, receiving it from both Principal Bliss and Catawba County Schools Superintendent Dan Brigman. Brigman and Bliss stipulated, however, that every student wishing to audition or assist with the production must receive parental permission to do so. The club then spent over $300 to reserve the rights and rent the scripts for the show, and followed through on this requirement. Only one student was prevented from auditioning by the permission-slip process. Baker said that the show had already been cast and was beginning rehearsals when the production was canceled last Thursday. She did not personally know who in the community objected to the play’s content.

An online petition started by the students in hopes of convincing the school to let the show go on has already garnered over 1000 signatures.

Is the scene involving the two male characters falling in love inappropriate? Here’s a clip from youtube of the play performed by a school in Florida:

2015 Fiscal Year State Budget, NC Budget and Tax Center

North Carolina is among 14 states that have cut per-student state funding by more than 10 percent for the current school year compared to before the Great Recession, a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) highlights. This waning commitment to public education by state lawmakers in recent years has heightened the challenge of public schools having to do more with fewer resources.

K12_CBPP Ed Report 2014

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Commentary

Judy WaxmanPlease join us for a very special Crucial Conversation — Breakfast with Judy Waxman, Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights at the National Women’s Law Center

Click here to register

Why are Americans still fighting for basic freedoms like access to birth control? What is the latest on the effort to secure full implementation of the Affordable Care Act? How can average North Carolinians help turn the tide so that we’re moving forward instead of just barely hanging on to previous victories in these and related areas?

Please join us at next Tuesday as we tackle these topics with one of America’s leading advocates for women’s health, Judy Waxman.

Cosponsored by: North Carolina Women United, the North Carolina National Organization for Women and Women AdvaNCe.

When: Tuesday, October 21, at 8:15 a.m. — Breakfast will be available at 8:00 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 – pre-registration required.

Cost: $5, admission includes light breakfast.

Click here to register

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

Commentary

In an opinion piece published this morning by the News and Observer, Hendersonville high school English teacher Chris Gilbert acknowledges the recent pay raise bestowed upon teachers by state lawmakers (significant for some and minuscule for others), but says he believes it is not demonstrative of politicians’ renewed commitment to public education.

Now, certain politicians can claim [the teacher pay raise of 2014] represents a renewed commitment to public education, and they secretly hope the pay increase will distract us from recent events that challenge this false narrative and reveal their true intentions.

We, however, have not forgotten the recent past.

We remember the recent plan to “reward” the top 25 percent of a district’s educators with small raises in exchange for relinquishing due process rights.

We remember that North Carolina’s teachers were recently among the lowest paid in the country.

We remember the passing of a state budget that led various districts to cut teacher assistants.

We remember a damaging bill passed last year that eliminated class size caps in early grades.

We remember the reduction of textbook funding from over $111 million in 2009 to $23.3 million in 2014.

We remember the implementation of the unconstitutional voucher program that siphons funds from public education to private schools.

We remember changes to the tax structure that have decreased revenue and threatened sustainable funding for teacher pay, our education system and other essential services.

This list could certainly continue, but the point should be clear: Recent state history reveals serious intent, and multiple attempts, to dismantle public education in order to justify privatization and create profit opportunities in the public sector.
Commentary

One of the most interesting parts of the Pro Publica report  in the News & Observer today about the huge profits from taxpayer money made by charter school operator Baker Mitchell is the story of how Mitchell lobbied the General Assembly for a tax break for himself and then denied it.

Mitchell was intimately involved in seeing the bill through as chairman of a pro-charter lobbying group, the NC Alliance for Public Charter Schools. Asked about the tax break and whether he had pushed for provisions that would directly benefit him, Mitchell told ProPublica, “There was another group that pushed that through. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”

But a lobbyist for Mitchell’s group, Debbie Clary, said, “It was our bill. I was the only lobbyist working on it.” Clary added, “The person most engaged was Baker (Mitchell).”

Whoops. It’s bad enough that Mitchell is raking in millions in taxpayer money with his questionable operation and apparently violating the law by not releasing financial details about his schools.

He at least ought to own up to his role in passing the legislation that is helping make him a wealthy man.