In this issue:
Big hike would come at same time traditional public schools are grappling with funding challenges and staffing shortfalls
State lawmakers may regret the decision to stuff millions of additional dollars into the state’s underutilized school voucher program, Rep. Rachel Hunt warned last week.
The Mecklenburg County Democrat said the feeling of remorse will likely come over them in August when school districts across the state are scrambling to fill what some experts believe will be a record number of teacher vacancies across North Carolina.
“When we come up next year with a huge depletion of teachers and our children do not have teachers in their classrooms, I want us to think about how we chose not to spend the money on those issues, and we instead spent more money on a program that is not being used completely,” Hunt said.
About 7.2 % of the state’s teachers and professional support staff such as social workers, school counselors and psychologists who responded to the North Carolina Teaching Working Conditions Survey in the spring said they plan to change professions this year. That’s almost twice the 4% that generally say they plan to quit each year.[Read more…]
Last week, the General Assembly passed a budget that provides teachers with an average nominal raise of a little over 4%. When adjusted for inflation, the average teacher will actually experience a pay cut of about 3.9%. Somehow, this plan earned bipartisan support, with 32 Democrats joining their Republican colleagues to deliver the Governor a proposal to cut North Carolina teachers’ pay.
If only North Carolina’s legislators were replaced by a bunch of Republicans from Alabama.
In April, Alabama’s legislators passed a new teacher pay plan that is far more generous than North Carolina’s. Alabama’s teacher salary schedule for the 22-23 school year is far more generous than North Carolina’s salary schedule at every experience level. Alabama’s beginning teachers earn 17% more than their North Carolina counterparts, while teachers with 35 years or more of experience earn 23% more than their North Carolina counterparts.[Read more…]
3. The legislature heads home – now what?(Commentary)
The North Carolina General Assembly brought its 2022 “short session” to a close last week. Well, at least, it kinda, sorta did.
Unlike in decades gone by in which the legislature generally adjourned in early summer, not to return until the following year, the current leadership on Jones Street prefers to keep the state’s supposedly part-time lawmakers yo-yoing back and forth to the state capital. And so it is that the adjournment resolution approved by both houses last week calls for senators and representatives to return to Raleigh for a series of mini-sessions that will take up at least part of each of the six months remaining in the year.
As for what legislators will do during those half dozen forays back into the Legislative Building, the resolution lists a number of possibilities, including consideration of gubernatorial vetoes, so-called “conference reports” on bills that have been at issue between the two houses, and rather ominously, “any bills relating to election laws.” Those who have followed the General Assembly in recent years are well aware that resolutions like this serve more as guideposts than hard and fast restrictions. [Read more…]
Thousands of people currently cycling in and out of jails and prisons are among the roughly 600,000 who would get health coverage under Medicaid expansion, potentially transforming North Carolina’s justice system.
Dorel Clayton became unmoored after his mother died of ovarian cancer, in 2001. He went from caring for her in the hospital and at her home to self-medicating, as tried to mask his trauma and numb the pain after she passed. By the end of that year, his downward spiral would land him behind bars for a decade.
“My way of coping and grieving was to get high, get drunk, and just try not to think about it,” Clayton said recently. “And so, I found myself with the wrong group of guys. And we ended up getting these robbery charges.”
But if Clayton’s grief led him down a path of self-destruction, it also brought him to his salvation: working for the Durham County Department of Public Health and helping people return home from prison or jail.
That kind of reentry support could go a lot further, Clayton and other advocates contend, if North Carolina would expand Medicaid — which lawmakers considered before the legislature adjourned last week. The House and Senate were divided over whether to expand Medicaid or study what expansion would look like. Neither proposal made it to the governor’s desk. [Read more…]
In the waning hours of the 2022 summer legislative session, two of North Carolina’s most conservative House members took to the floor to speak out against government overreach.
“We should not have a government tracking people,” said Rep. Keith Kidwell, the House deputy majority whip.
The Beaufort County Republican was not addressing privacy concerns that have been raised since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, ending the constitutional right to an abortion.
Rather Kidwell was angry about a provision tucked inside Senate Bill 201, legislation that would make a number of changes to North Carolina’s motor vehicle and transportation laws.
The objectionable section would allow the state Department of Transportation to enter into agreements with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation for the placement and use of automatic license plate reader systems within land or right-of-way owned by the DOT as part of a pilot program.
The cameras provide real-time data for law enforcement and could be useful in the case of a stolen vehicle or an Amber alert.
But Rep. Kidwell was unwavering. [Read more...]
Relentless heat — Raleigh is running well ahead of the 30-year average in the number of 90-degree days. The city has already recorded 24 days that hit 90 or above, on pace to blow past the average of 43 days — and there are still two months until meteorological fall.
Persistent drought — 99 of North Carolina’s 100 counties are classified as experiencing some level of drought, as of June 28.
Tropical Storm Colin, the third named storm in the Atlantic, formed off the coast of the Carolinas over the weekend. Although it only brushed the North Carolina coast and caused no damage, it arrived a month ahead of schedule. Atlantic hurricane data from the National Weather Service shows that third such storms usually arrive Aug. 3.
This is climate change.[Read more…]
This week marks one year since acclaimed journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones turned down a tenure offer from UNC-Chapel Hill, choosing to instead start a new Center for Journalism and Democracy at Howard University.
Policy Watch broke the story of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees initially denying Hannah-Jones a vote on tenure, and deeply reported the political and donor pressure over the hire and how faculty, staff, students and alumni rallied to force the board to take an up-or-down vote on the issue.
But one key player in the saga — conservative mega-donor Walter Hussman — is still denying the role he played, despite the publication of emails that detail his lobbying against Hannah-Jones at multiple levels. [Read more…]
The Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit that promotes high-quality health systems, publishes a scorecard each year that ranks states on 56 benchmarks, such as healthcare access, health disparities, and quality. The nonprofit added seven benchmarks related to COVID-19 to this year’s scorecard, including “excess deaths.”
Overall, North Carolina ranked 34th of 51. (The District of Columbia is included in the rankings with the 50 states.) North Carolina ranked better than most states in the Southeast, but lagged behind neighboring Virginia, which came in 20th. Hawaii was No. 1 and Mississippi was 51st.
Most of the state with the highest number of uninsured adults have not expanded Medicaid. North Carolina is among those non-expansion states, and 15.7% of adults were uninsured in 2020, placing the state near the bottom.[Read more…]
Moore v. Harper case could upend decades of established constitutional law and endanger democracy
The U.S. Supreme Court, as if rushing to settle old grievances, in recent weeks has thrashed about in a virtual frenzy of “originalism” – never mind the consequences for America’s civic well-being.
Our federal Constitution neglects to confer a woman’s explicit right to have an abortion? Then states must be free to impose abortion bans going so far as to require victims of rape and incest to bear the children of their predators – unless they can afford to have the procedure done in jurisdictions where such women (or girls) aren’t doubly victimized.[Read more…]