State lawmaker says he expects House education committee to mull discrimination policy for voucher schools

N.C. Rep. Ed Hanes Jr., D-Forsyth

N.C. Rep. Ed Hanes Jr., D-Forsyth

One day after N.C. Policy Watch reported the story of a voucher-eligible Lee County private school’s arguably discriminatory admissions policy, N.C. Rep. Ed Hanes Jr., D-Forsyth, says he expects the state House education committee to address the topic when the legislature reconvenes in April.

Hanes, who sits as vice chair on the committee, says public funds should not be dispensed to any private school “with discriminatory intentions.”

The “lifestyle statements and covenant” issued by Lee Christian School, which requires signature by parents, employees and students grades 6-12, includes explicit denunciations of homosexuality and adultery.

According to the document, provided to Policy Watch by Lee County news blog The Rant, the school reserves the right to deny admission or expel students should the “atmosphere or conduct within” the student’s home contrast with the school’s anti-gay policy.

From the school’s agreement:

“Sexual relationships outside of marriage and sexual relationships between persons of the same sex are immoral and sinful. The depth of the sinfulness of homosexual practice is recognized, and yet we believe the grace of God sufficient to overcome both the practice of such activity and the perversion leading to its practice.”

Hanes, who was one of a handful of Democrats who originally supported the legislature’s controversial plan to funnel public funds into vouchers for private schools, says he has a record of supporting the LGBT community.

“I would not be in agreement with discriminating against anyone based on their sexual orientation,” Hanes said.

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N.C. House Speaker watches a teacher assistant at work

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore

Legislators visit schools all the time, and as a longtime reporter, I can tell you that it’s typically uneventful stuff.

But here’s a fairly interesting report from Wednesday’s Wilkes Journal-Patriot of N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore’s visit this week to an elementary school in Wilkes County, during which the speaker apparently got a chance to view a teacher assistant lead the classroom.

Given the job scares TAs have withstood in recent years, including last year’s hotly contested Senate proposal to ax 8,500 TA jobs, Moore’s visit is relevant.

According to the Journal-Patriot, Moore, a Republican from Cleveland County, was visiting the school as part of a tour to assess the value of North Carolina’s new letter grading system for assessing school performance.

Locals hoped to make the case for amending the grading system, claiming it focuses too much on testing performance and not on student growth. We can expect this will be a topic of interest when the General Assembly reconvenes in April.

However, according to the paper, one of the tour’s most interesting moments came when Moore watched a TA at work. Education advocates often tout the value of teacher assistants, employees who often juggle multiple classrooms tasks for very moderate pay, yet TA positions are often on the cutting block during budget negotiations.

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NC Budget and Tax Center

Hypotheticals continue to trump reality for some state lawmakers

Today the General Assembly’s Revenue Laws Committee held its first meeting for 2016. The meeting’s agenda included presentations to state lawmakers on the committee from state officials regarding tax changes passed last year as well as proposed tax changes that state leaders would like to pass this year. Also included on the agenda was a presentation from a representative of the Tax Foundation (TF), tax policy research organization that favors tax cuts for profitable corporations and the wealthy, and recently released analysis that fails to acknowledge the cost of such an approach to North Carolina’s ability to fund public schools, infrastructure like roads and water/sewer, state parks or public health initiatives.

Here are three takeaways from today’s meeting.

  • Despite the TF spokesman informing that his organization’s assessment of the impact of tax reform in North Carolina uses hypothetical (a.k.a. made up) taxpayer scenarios, some lawmakers still pointed to these scenarios during the meeting to support their claim that the tax changes benefit all North Carolinians. This is not true. The TF spokesman even acknowledged during his presentation that all NC taxpayers do not come out ahead under tax changes since 2013.

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A teacher runs for the N.C. General Assembly

3002776434_643d076694_z-300x225Mr. Nixon goes to Raleigh, perhaps.

In yesterday’s Washington Post, there was an interesting feature on Rich Nixon, a Clayton history teacher who, this fall, will be challenging for the District 26 seat in the N.C. House of Representatives.

Nixon, a Democrat, will be seeking the seat long held by powerful Johnston County Republican Leo Daughtry, a 12-term member of the House who ranks among the most senior members of the General Assembly. Daughtry, however, announced last October that he would not be seeking re-election this fall, leaving the seat relatively wide open.

Of course, Johnston County is, traditionally, a very conservative county, but Nixon, according to the Post, will be pushing the narrative of North Carolina’s struggling teachers.

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