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This Week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

durham-protest1. Durham Board of Elections dismisses Republicans’ protest for lack of evidence

In Gov. Pat McCrory’s 52-county strategy to foment doubt in the election results, Durham would have been the Ace in the deck.

Durham County is staunchly Democratic, predominantly urban and historically African-American, a trifecta hostile to North Carolina Republicans. If the state GOP’s election protest could win here, similar tantrums could prevail elsewhere — such as the other 51 counties where McCrory’s operatives have filed largely spurious voter challenges.

But today in Durham, McCrory, via his proxy state Republican Party attorney Thomas Stark, was forced to fold.

The Durham Board of Elections, which like all county election boards in North Carolina, carries a GOP majority, voted unanimously, 3-0, to dismiss Stark’s protest for lack of evidence.

Yes, Stark’s arguments were thin, the testimony of his witnesses anemic. But beneath the masquerade that Stark was merely pursuing the noble ideals of truth and democracy, a more pernicious strategy was at work: To erode confidence in the voting process, particularly in African-American areas, to exact pain on the electorate commensurate with that felt by the loser, and to sow suspicion where there is cause for none. [Continue reading...]

*** Bonus reads:

debateCooper team touts growing lead as McCrory challenges rejected

GOP efforts to block Cooper governorship looking more and more desperate  (commentary)

School desk on top of a dollar bill2. After scathing report, N.C. legislators move to reform state’s system of funding public schools

Following a scathing state report on North Carolina’s method of funding public schools, state lawmakers on Wednesday called for a major overhaul of the system.

“This is going to be tough, really tough,” said Rep. Craig Horn, R-Union, co-chairman of the legislature’s Joint Program Evaluation Oversight Committee, after a report prepared by a nonpartisan legislative office pointed to far-reaching inequities, inconsistencies and flaws in North Carolina’s complicated K-12 funding model.

That model, which hinges on allotments for various components of public education (i.e. textbooks, teachers, school administrators and transportation), is a target for some who would like to see the state transition to a simpler, student-based system of funding in the coming years.[Continue reading…]

Classroom full of students3. New rules to lower class sizes force stark choices, threatening the arts, music and P.E

North Carolina public school leaders say a legislative mandate to decrease class sizes in the early grades may have a devastating impact on school systems across the state, forcing districts to spend millions more hiring teachers or cut scores of positions for those teaching “specialty” subjects such as arts, music and physical education.

“All 115 districts in the state, this is a problem,” says Leanne Winner, director of governmental relations for the N.C. School Boards Association, a group that represents local boards of education at the legislature.

Yet the problem, one spurred by an overhaul to the funding formula for grades K-3 in the state budget, remains something of a secret crisis for North Carolina public schools, at least in terms of public perception.[Continue reading…]

Photo by Phil Fonville4. A lot more passion and a lot more pragmatism
Defeating ignorance, racism and xenophobia will take much more than marches, alliances of convenience and poll-tested candidates

As is almost always the case, last week’s presidential election result is giving rise to lots of soul searching and self-flagellation on the side that lost. All across America, Democrats and progressives (two overlapping, but hardly identical groups) are asking themselves what went wrong and how they can turn things around going forward. Thousands of individuals are taking new vows to become active and engaged in the political process and the effort to combat Trumpism.

That these are positive developments is, of course, beyond dispute. Despite the President-elect’s relatively conciliatory tone in recent days, there can be no doubt that there will be many dark days ahead and it is absolutely essential that caring and thinking people prepare to fight like never before if they are going to mount a successful resistance to the impending conservative onslaught. [Continue reading…]

xgr-mccrory-4005. Glimmers of hope in election include misleading claims about education and HB2

Despite the shock of Donald Trump winning the presidency last week, there are a number of hopeful signs in the election results for progressives, many of which have been pointed out by folks looking for something positive to hold on to in the overall gloomy outcome.

Those include the fact that more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than Donald Trump, Democrats gained seats in the U.S. House and Senate, and four states passed ballot measures to increase the minimum wage including Arizona, a state Donald Trump won.

In North Carolina, there’s more to challenge the notion that this election was a resounding win for the forces on the Right, most notably that Republican Governor Pat McCrory currently trails Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper by roughly 5,000 votes before provisional ballots are reviewed and a likely recount is held. [Continue reading…]

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