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Art Pope 3The North Carolina NAACP and other activist groups will commence a series of informational pickets today to shine more light on the rather amazing breadth and depth of the influence of state budget director, Art Pope. The pickets will take place today at 4:00 p.m. outside two of the chain stores owned by Pope’s Variety Wholesalers, Maxway and Rose’s.

The Maxway event will take place at 1905 Poole Rd. in Raleigh. The Rose’s event will take place  at University Mall, 201-C36 Estes Dr. Chapel Hill.

According to an announcement:

“The informational picket campaign is a statewide effort to raise awareness and demand that Budget Director Pope call for a reversal of extremist laws and policies passed in the 2013 Legislative Session and support the request for a Special Redemption Session of the North Carolina General Assembly to reverse course on two extremist policies, the denial of Medicaid and emergency unemployment benefits that will harm the most vulnerable members of our state.”

Learn more at the event’s Facebook page by clicking here.

This school year, approximately 56 percent of all students in North Carolina public schools come from families with incomes low enough to qualify for free and reduced lunch (up from 48 percent in 2008). Many students within this new majority require extra learning supports, as they lag their peers in core learning areas such as reading, math, and English.

The budget signed by Governor McCrory cuts funding in many areas that help boost student achievement. For the 2013-14 school year, these funding cuts have meant fewer classroom teachers, teacher assistants, instructional support, and instructional supplies. This raises concerns about what the failure to invest in public education means for future student performance. Read More

Bathroom cartoonThis week’s nominee for weirdest press release of the weekend has to be Governor McCrory’s official Saturday statement (see below) that “not one penny” of public money will be used to fix up the bathrooms in the executive mansion.

Frankly, though the price tag does sound a tad steep (nearly a quarter-million bucks) I don’t have a big problem with keeping such an important public building in working order — especially if it has been decades since the bathrooms were last renovated.   

What’s absurd, of course, is not that we (or someone) would invest in maintaining the mansion; it’s that McCrory, Pope et al. refuse to acknowledge that we also need to invest in other critical public structures. Let’s hope the Guv ponders this reality the next time he’s spending time in the mansion water closet.

Press Release

Statement from the Office of Governor Pat McCrory Read More

An editorial in the Asheville Citizen-Times provides new and damning evidence about the real world impact of the state’s FY 2014 budget for public schools.

As the editorial explains, local PTO’s and PTA’s have resorted to passing the hat in order to fund vital instructional positions in their public schools that Gov. McCrory and the General Assembly left unfunded.  

“Parent-teacher groups are caught between increased demands and reduced resources. The demands will continue to increase as long as the state abdicates its responsibility to fund the public schools properly. Read More

Dan ForestApparently sensing the political vulnerability of Gov. McCrory, North Carolina’s ambitious Lt. Governor, Dan Forest engaged in a little gratuitous headline grabbing last week by making the rather stunning/bizarre statement that he wanted North Carolina’s public school teachers to be the highest paid in the country and that there is “plenty of money in government” to effect such a change without raising taxes.

Yesterday, in response, veteran Raleigh journalist Scott Mooneyham of The Insider provided Forest with a crash course in Public Finance 101:

“Let’s dig down into the nitty-gritty of what it would take to make North Carolina public school teachers the highest-paid in the country. Read More