The week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch

In this issue:

1. BREAKING: NC Supreme Court issues much anticipated rulings on education funding, environmental protection

After nearly three decades of litigation, Leandro case finally comes to a head as justices order lawmakers to fund court-approved education improvement plan

By Greg Childress

In a dramatic ruling issued just days before midterm elections, the North Carolina Supreme Court upheld a lower court’s ruling and ordered the transfer of millions of dollars to pay for a school improvement plan designed to provide the state’s school children with the sound basic education guaranteed under the state constitution.


Justices rule chemical giants cannot escape liability for PFAS pollution in southeastern NC

By Lisa Sorg

The North Carolina Supreme Court has upheld a lower court’s finding that “New DuPont” and Corteva are liable for potential legal damages in North Carolina related to PFAS contamination, according to a ruling published today.

[Read more…]

2. Out-of-state patients spur abortion increase in North Carolina

Many more people are seeking abortions in North Carolina since June, when the U.S. Supreme Court rescinded the constitutional right to abortion and neighboring states began outlawing or severely restricting abortions.

Fifty-three percent of the people coming to A Woman’s Choice North Carolina clinics are from out of state, spokeswoman Amber Gavin said in an interview. At least one person has come as far away as Missouri.

Getting to North Carolina from out of state is a “complicated balancing act,” for patients, Gavin said, that depends on whether they are flying in or driving, where they can get an appointment, and where the physicians they need to see are located. “We are really seeing folks from all over the South,” she said.

[Read more…]

**BONUS COMMENTARY: North Carolina physician: Why I’m terrified about the prospect of an abortion ban in our state

Photo: Forward Justice/Unlock the Vote Facebook page

3. PW special report: Restoring hope in the vote among those with felony convictions in North Carolina

More than 50,000 North Carolinians can vote this fall thanks to a court ruling that restored the rights of people on probation and parole. But their gains are precarious.

This article was produced as a collaboration between Bolts and NC Policy Watch.

One hot afternoon in early October, Corey Purdie helped put the finishing touches on the exterior of the 300-square-foot house at Broad and Queen streets in New Bern, North Carolina. He touched up a corner of the building with white paint as other volunteers interrupted him to ask questions, say hello and point out that he was using the wrong paintbrush. Soon, an elderly man would move into the bright blue house, the first place he’d be able to call his own after spending more than eight years in prison and about three in a halfway house.

[Read more…]

**BONUS READ: Concerns grow that voter intimidation could disrupt midterm elections

4. Gov. Cooper’s new commission will study how the UNC System is governed, but change is unlikely

After years of conflict and controversy within the UNC System, a bipartisan commission will study its governance, but without the power to implement changes, it’s unclear what impact the commission’s work will have.

On Tuesday Gov. Roy Cooper announced the Governor’s Commission on the Governance of Public Universities in North Carolina, created by executive order. It will be headed by former UNC System presidents Tom Ross and Margaret Spellings, a prominent Democrat and Republican, respectively.

“North Carolina’s public universities are our most valuable assets,” Cooper said in a statement. “And the key to building a stronger economy with opportunity for everyone and they need serious, diverse leadership committed to working together for the good of our students, faculty, future employers and our state.”

[Read more]

5. Report: Decline in teachers with traditional education degrees linked to growth in charter schools

As charter schools proliferate across America, there has been a corresponding decline in the number of new teachers earning bachelor’s degrees in education from traditional preparation programs, according to a new study from the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH). Researchers Doug Harris, the national director of REACH, and Mary Penn, a research partner at the center, found that for every 10% increase in charter school enrollment, the supply of teachers who earn bachelor’s degrees in traditional educator preparation programs decreases by 13.5% to 15.2% on average.

Between 2007 and 2016, the number of new teachers decreased by about 20%. And roughly one in five classroom teachers now comes from alternative preparation programs; the remainder graduate from traditional programs.

[Read more…]

**BONUS READ: State Board of Education to receive teacher licensure and pay proposal next month

6. Report shows contaminated groundwater is migrating toward Teer Quarry, site of Durham’s future water supply

High levels of several toxic chemicals have been detected in groundwater near Teer Quarry, storage site for Durham’s future water supply, and are migrating toward the pit itself, state documents show.

However, it is still uncertain if these compounds will reach the quarry, and if so, at what concentrations.

The contaminant of greatest concern is 1,4-Dioxane, a likely carcinogen. It was found in more than half of the 26 groundwater monitoring wells at levels 3 to 50 times above the state’s target value for water supplies, according to a consultant’s report filed with the NC Department of Environmental Quality.

[Read more…]

7. The hard truth that no candidate of either party has the courage to speak anymore (Commentary)

To the relief of just about everyone – with the possible exception of advertising sales staff at the nation’s media companies – the 2022 midterms will soon be over.

In just a few days, Americans are likely to know the answers to a host of momentous questions:

  • Will the work that’s finally commenced to address the global environmental crisis proceed or stall?
  • Will the levers of democracy in several states be placed in the hands of politicians who embrace delusional conspiracy theories?
  • Will the nation soon come face-to-face with the real prospect of default on the national debt and a federal government shutdown?
  • Will U.S. opposition to Vladimir Putin’s aggression and its support for democracy in Ukraine continue or be upended?
  • Will abortion rights in states like North Carolina be further eroded?
[Read more…]

8. NC judge orders community services for more people with disabilities. The state objects, saying the deadlines are unrealistic.

Thousands of people with disabilities would receive services to help keep them out of institutions, and a waiting list of more than 16,000 North Carolinians needing direct care would be whittled to zero over 10 years under a sweeping court order issued this week.

Superior Court Judge Allen Baddour’s order follows his 2020 decision that the state is breaking the law by failing to provide needed services that would enable people with intellectual and developmental disabilities to live outside institutions. The order is part of the “Samantha R.” lawsuit Disability Rights NC filed in 2017 on behalf of people who were institutionalized or faced institutionalization.

“It’s a very big deal,” said Tim Rhoney, Samantha’s father.

[Read more…]

9. Weekly Radio Interviews and daily Radio Commentaries:

Click here for the latest radio interviews and commentaries with Policy Watch Director Rob Schofield.



10. Weekly Editorial Cartoon:

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The week’s top stories on NC Policy Watch