1. In North Carolina, the conservative war on academia merges with its war on the poor and vulnerable
Right launches new attack on UNC legal centers that serve people in need
For several years now, North Carolina conservatives have been waging a war on the poor, the vulnerable and people of color. From the evisceration of the economic safety net and the refusal to expand Medicaid, to the “surgically precise” attack on minority voting rights and the repeal of the Racial Justice Act, the attacks have been regular, coordinated and destructive.
Sadly, a similar pattern has been evident in the world of academics too. From Pat McCrory’s absurd attacks on liberal arts education to the decision to forcibly remove the highly respected former President of the University of North Carolina, Tom Ross, to the sustained under-investment in community colleges and universities, the Right has treated academia as an enemy to be starved, tamed and conquered. [Read more…]
With the one-year anniversary of the passage of the sweeping anti-LGBTQ law HB2 rapidly approaching and the NCAA poised to lock North Carolina out of hosting dozens of championship events for the next six years, legislative leaders and Gov. Roy Cooper are scrambling to find a way to repeal the law and remove the stain on North Carolina’s reputation around the world and end the second class treatment of thousands of people in the state.
There have been proposals and counter proposals in the last few day and a spate of news conferences, video statements, and press releases but the law remains on the books. Here are seven things you need to know about HB2, the current impasse and the misleading spin about who is to blame for the lack of action.
1) HB2 has been a disaster for North Carolina.
Conservative estimates show that it has cost the state $650 million dollars and tens of thousands of jobs. Charlotte alone has lost 2,500 jobs. [Read more…]
3. School choice advocates push to rebrand vouchers, virtual charters for legislators
Public school supporters call the tactics misleading
North Carolina public education backers are fired up this week over a new round of advocacy at the N.C. General Assembly that seems geared toward rebranding for-profit virtual charters and private school recipients of taxpayer-backed vouchers as public schools.
The controversy comes after a gaggle of school choice supporters clad in “I Trust Parents” t-shirts descended on the legislative building in recent days.
They brought with them pro-school choice literature that—while paid for by a little-known, at least in North Carolina, nonprofit called Public School Options—almost exclusively plugs the controversial N.C. Virtual Academy, an online school run by for-profit operator K12 Inc. that’s been troubled by high dropout rates and flagging academic numbers in its first two years of operation. [Read more…]
At one point in his press conference, Gov. Roy Cooper grabbed a copy of his 161-page budget booklet from a nearby table, and pointed to its cover for emphasis. “This is a balanced budget” he told a group of reporters, who had gathered at Durham Technical Community College for the announcement. “We did it without raising taxes or fees, cutting services or dipping into special funds.”
Released at 10:30 this morning, the $23.4 billion budget will require more analysis to learn what’s been nipped and tucked to achieve that goal. But Cooper’s first foray into a state budget as governor focuses on education, emblematic of his vision of propelling North Carolina into the top 10 educated states by 2025:
- new programs for continuing education students and community colleges to increase the number of adults with a higher education degree from 38 percent to 55 percent;
- an increase in the number of pre-K slots to eliminate the 4,700-child waiting list; [Read more…]
*** Bonus video: Budget’s NC Best & Brightest initiative will help attract, retain talented educators
5. As bipartisan support for redistricting grows, community rallies around issue in effort to get lawmakers’ attention
When the Democrats were the majority party at the North Carolina General Assembly, Republicans wanted redistricting reform. Now that the Republicans are at the helm of power, Democrats want redistricting reform.
But advocates say gerrymandering is not a partisan issue, and if redistricting reform isn’t passed soon, it will permanently corrode the public’s confidence in elections.
Gerrymandering is the manipulation of electoral boundaries to favor one party or class — it’s often discussed in the context of lawmakers using race or politics to draw maps that ensure their election. There are currently five pending cases in the courts that involve allegations of racial and partisan gerrymandering in North Carolina.
“I believe this is the critical issue of our time,” said Ira Botvinick, an independent Raleigh voter.
“You’re riding high now but you can fall off the horse and be on the short end again. It’s not partisan to have competitive districts, and being an advocate for maximizing competition is in everyone’s best interest.” [Read more…]