Commentary, News

This week’s top five on NC Policy Watch

McCrory ASD1. Governor McCrory needs to realize that putting ideology over evidence won’t help struggling students

Legislative leaders say they care about helping struggling schools in North Carolina and the students who attend them—but they don’t act much like they do.

Imagine going to the doctor for an ear infection and the doctor tells you that she’s going to prescribe a drug that hasn’t worked very well in treating other patients with similar infections.

That in essence is what the General Assembly did this session by approving legislation to put five low-performing schools in something called an achievement school district (ASD) that may be run by an out of state for profit charter school company.

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McCrory body cams2. Missing a chance to send a message at a time of national crisis:
Governor McCrory swings and misses on the police violence issue

The phenomenon of brutality and misconduct by law enforcement officers toward average Americans (especially young African-American men) is, of course, nothing new in the United States. For a tragically high percentage of people of color, regular confrontations with police are a regular and often terrifying fact of life. In some large American cities, there are so many cases of police misconduct that some lawyers devote their entire practices to representing victims or defending police. And needless to say, the phenomenon of law officers being targeted by criminals goes back to the beginning of civilization.

In recent years, however, two developments – one negative and one positive – have elevated these issues significantly.

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k12-virtual3. Accountability for NC virtual charter operators back in the spotlight after California forces K12 Inc. to pay $168.5 million settlement

Bill Cobey, chairman of North Carolina’s State Board of Education, has heard all about K12 Inc.’s California settlement, a purported $168.5 million pact with the state’s attorney general amid long-running allegations that the for-profit virtual charter school operator inflated student test scores and attendance to drain more cash from public coffers.

It’s of import to Cobey because K12, of course, is one of two companies operating similar, publicly-funded virtual charters in North Carolina, both of which experienced soaring dropout rates this year in their first eight months of operation while taking in more than $14 million in state funds this year

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Money-eyes-4004. Is this as good as it gets for North Carolina?

Over the next year North Carolinians will find out the results of an experiment that began July 1. On that date, a new state budget took effect that is based, not on the level of public investment needed to help communities thrive, but on a formula divorced from the reality of everyday lives.to help to help communities thrive, but on a formula divorced from the reality of everyday lives. The formula is rigid, if nothing else. It says public spending growth can’t exceed the percentage growth in population and inflation. Period.

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Lead poisoning5. North Carolina is headed backwards on childhood lead poisoning  

When the NC legislature adjourned last week, they left behind some unfinished business. One bill left hanging, House Bill 1074, would have required (and paid for) lead testing in the drinking water of every school and child care center in North Carolina. We applaud Rep. Mike Hager (R-Burke) for his leadership on this issue, and sincerely hope that he will continue to push for lead testing in the 2017 session.

We absolutely support the legislature’s effort to ensure that children’s drinking water in schools and child care centers is free from toxic lead – but it’s important to keep in mind that only about 20 percent of children’s lead exposures actually come from drinking water. The vast majority come from their homes, where particles of lead from older house paint break down and become part of the house dust that is inhaled and ingested by small children, irreversibly damaging the developing brain. Soil in backyards and playgrounds can also be contaminated with lead from older sources, and that becomes part of the house dust lead mix, too.

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Also, don’t miss our next N.C. Policy Watch Crucial Conversation luncheon:

Predatory payday lenders: Is North Carolina rid of them for good or will they make a comeback?
Featuring our special guest, Tom Feltner of the Consumer Federation of America

When: Wednesday July 27 at 12 noon

Where: The Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (at the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets).

Click here to learn more.

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