Ahead of court ordered deadline, Dems, education advocates press for full funding of Leandro education plan

North Carolina legislators face a Monday deadline to tell Superior Court Judge David Lee how they will fully fund the Leandro plan for improving public education.

On Wednesday, House Democrats and education advocates urged leaders of the Republican-controlled General Assembly to find the funding in their final budget negotiations with Gov. Roy Cooper.

Rep. Julie von Haefen said every North Carolina child deserves a high-quality education regardless of their zip code.

Rep. Julie von Haefen

“Investing in the Leandro plan would mean investing in North Carolina children from birth to career, which is in turn an investment in our state’s future and in our economy,” said von Haefen.

“We all want to see North Carolina’s children be cared for, be educated, and be provided a sound foundation for their futures.”

The Leandro plan calls for $427 million in new state education funding this year, which would be just the first phase of an eight-year plan.

The comprehensive plan would fully fund early childhood education, help lower childcare cost, provide a high-quality teacher in every classroom as well as a supportive principal in every school, according to Rep. von Haefen.

Jenice Ramirez

Jenice Ramirez, executive director of ISLA NC, believes the prospect of legislators dismissing the remedial plan and Lee’s court order would seriously shortchange the state’s low-income and Latino students.

“North Carolina is a state with a growing English-language learner population, however we’re also a state that puts a cap on the amount of funding schools can get for these students. That means that some districts regardless of student need do not receive the adequate funding to provide English learner students with the appropriate resources.”

Ramirez said the state’s public schools need better funding for ESL services, more bilingual staff and trained interpreters.

Rev. Paul Ford

Rev. Paul Ford of Action4Equity in Winston-Salem said equitable funding of the pubic schools should be a divine imperative for elected officials.

“We need a biblical flood of resources in order to make things right for all of our children, so many of whom have been robbed of this basic sound education,” Ford told reporters.

House Minority Leader Robert Reives would not venture whether a failure to fully funding Leandro would prompt some Democrats to reject a final state budget deal this fall.

Instead he said legislative leaders negotiating the budget with the governor should look back over the past 30 years, and understand how important this investment could be to the state’s future.

“We got RTP, UNC, State, Duke, Wake, all these places because we did it correctly,” explained Reives. “What they invested in then, made it possible for us to be here today, and to to have the amount of growth and wealth we have in North Carolina.”

For more on what’s included in the comprehensive court-ordered Leandro plan, read this piece by Policy Watch education reporter Greg Childress.

“A giant step forward.” Wake County advances nondiscrimination ordinance.

Formal vote now set for October 18th session.

Matt Calabria, chairman of the Wake County Board of Commissioners

Wake County Commissioners voiced strong support Monday for expanding the county’s nondiscrimination ordinance, offering greater protections to the LGBTQ community and others.

“This will really ensure that all businesses are prohibited from discriminating, including and especially in the context of employment and public accommodations,” explained Board of Commissioners Chairman Matt Calabria.

“There’s a simple underlying principle here. No one should be discriminated against because of who they are. That’s it.”

Calabria said making North Carolina’s cities and the counties more inclusive and welcoming is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do.

He noted that many of the very businesses Wake County would like to recruit are looking for policies that will enable them to attract the best talent, not deter prospective employees from wanting to move to the region.

Vice Chair Vickie Adamson

Wake County’s proposed policy will cover a broad base of characteristics, prohibiting discrimination based on race, sex, pregnancy, marital or familial status, LGBTQ status, disability, natural hair or hairstyles, and a number of other factors.

The ordinance will also require that anyone wishing to do business with the county certify that they don’t discriminate as a condition of winning a future contract or bid.

Wake County Vice Chair Vickie Adamson echoed Calabria’s support for the ordinance, offering a personal story.

“As a family member of quite a few people in the LGBTQ community, I worry about them. Are they going to be heard? Are people going to hurt their feelings? Hopefully when they chose to come to Wake County they’ll be safer,” she explained. “I think we’re making a giant step forward for Wake County.”

Studies have shown that 1 in 3 LGBTQ people have experienced discrimination in the past year.

Commissioner Maria Cervania

Commissioner Maria Cervania joined Adamson in offering her colleagues an emotional word of thanks.

“I am so happy to be part of a group of people that actually has a commitment towards showing that we are all in this to see each other for who we are as people…to be fair and respectful.”

Wake County Commissioners will formally vote on the nondiscrimination resolution at their October 18th meeting.

If approved it will take effect February 1, 2022.

Raleigh City Council is slated to take up their own nondiscrimination ordinance when they meet Tuesday at 4:00pm.

NC Senator calls for resignation of Lt. Governor for homophobic remarks

Sen. Jeff Jackson

State Senator Jeff Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) is calling for the resignation of Lt. Governor Mark Robinson after a video surfaced Thursday in which Robinson refers to homosexuality and transgenderism as “filth.”

The video clip shared on Twitter by Right Wing Watch appears to be part of a longer address Robinson, a Republican, delivered June 6 at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove, NC.

Robinson, who is widely expected to run for governor in 2024, blasted public schools for their focus on equity, saying it was time for the church to “wrestle this away from those folks.”

“There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” said Robinson. “And yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you.”

Sen. Jackson, a candidate for U.S. Senate, said the remarks were open discrimination and unacceptable.

The Mecklenburg County Democrat noted that no members of Robinson’s party have condemned the remarks:

Earlier this week, Jackson’s home county took steps to approve LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.

On Friday, Robinson refused to walk back his comments.

In response, Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue said the hateful stance is exactly what the state doesn’t need.

Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue

“At best, Robinson’s comments reinforce the need to better fund our schools so that we can ensure that students are not taught to hate each other for their differences.

“Robinson’s recent comments about the LGBTQ community do not represent the beliefs of theSenate Democratic Caucus. It is our hope that no educator would ever teach their students to consider another person to be ‘filth’.

“Lieutenant Governor Robinson’s comments are hateful and serve to divide North Carolina. That’s not the kind of leader this state deserves.”

 

Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who like Jackson is vying for the U.S. Senate, offered her own condemnation of Robinson’s anti-LGBTQ remarks on Friday:

Read more about Lt. Gov. Robinson’s mix of politics and religion in this piece by Policy Watch’s Joe Killian.

GOP pols Robinson, Walker, Cawthorn align themselves with movement seeking to end to separation of church and state

“This is about dignity.” Mecklenburg County advances non-discrimination ordinances protecting LGBTQ people

With Tuesday’s unanimous vote, Mecklenburg County is poised to become the 13th local government in North Carolina to approve LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections.

The ordinances ensure protections in private employment and places of public accommodations – such as restaurants and businesses – from discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and natural hairstyle.

Commissioner Leigh Altman told her colleagues on the board it was time to listen to the concerns of the LGBTQ community.

“We are all God’s children, and we are entitled to live in peace and dignity. But that doesn’t happen by well wishes alone,” said Altman in her prepared remarks.

Commissioner Pat Cotham also spoke passionately about the need to embrace this change.

Commissioner Pat Cotham

“This is about dignity. But you don’t have dignity, unless you have strength. And this ordinance is the strength. Because otherwise you can say ‘Here’s your dignity’ but if you can’t do anything about it, you really don’t have dignity,” Cotham explained.

The amended ordinance include all employers.

While the move by the county commissioners will require one more vote to become law, the action is drawing praise from advocacy organizations across the state.

“Measures like these will make Mecklenburg County a better place, especially for people with multiple layers of marginalization,” said Kendra R. Johnson, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina. “We applaud the Commissioners for taking this action, and we encourage them to pass this NDO swiftly.”

“Now Commissioners must finalize the vote and join 12 other communities across North Carolina with strong nondiscrimination ordinances on the books. It’s time to ensure that no one is left vulnerable to discrimination in our state,” said the Campaign for Southern Equality’s Allison Scott.

With the sunset of HB142, numerous municipalities have passed nondiscrimination ordinances this year including: Apex, Asheville, Buncombe County, Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Durham, Greensboro, Hillsborough, and Orange County.

Click below to hear Commissioner Leigh Altman’s remarks:

The week’s top stories on Policy Watch

1. Push to comply with Leandro mandate for state‘s schools gains momentum

Showdown with resistant General Assembly looms as gubernatorial commission urges implementation of court-approved plan

Flush with cash, the state of North Carolina owes its children “nothing less” than a fully funded Leandro Comprehensive Remedial Plan, the Governor’s Commission on Access to a Sound Basic Education unanimously agreed Tuesday.

The commission made its statement in a resolution urging “state bodies, entities, and agencies to take all necessary actions” to implement the plan which  outlines steps the state must take to meet its constitutional obligation to ensure students have access to sound basic education.

“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use our state’s resources to truly transform and strengthen our public schools,” said Gov. Roy Cooper, who attended the early part of the commission’s virtual meeting. “Our state has the resources to live up to our constitutional obligation to our children and now is the time to do it.”  [Read more…]

2. Increased demand for COVID-19 testing swamps NC pediatricians

The medical team at Goldsboro Pediatrics sees a steady stream of patients from 8 a.m. to 5:00 or 6:00 in the evening, their appointment schedules swelled by parents seeking COVID-19 tests for their children.

Slots for the walk-in hour of 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. are usually filled by 8:30, said Dr. Teague Horton, a partner in the practice.

Some children exposed to COVID-19 at school must be quarantined. They need to test negative for COVID-19 to shorten their quarantine from 10 days to seven days if they have no symptoms.

“The poor parents are like, ‘help me out so I can get my kid back into school,’” Horton said in a recent interview. [Read more…]

3. ‘Their tank is empty’: Local public health officials combat staff burnout, low pay, harassment

6. The sound of crickets chirping: The discouraging response of NC conservatives to new Trump coup attempt revelations(Commentary)

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The United States of America will celebrate the 250th anniversary as a free and democratic republic in less than five years on July 4, 2026.

At least that’s the plan.

Amazingly, however, this event appears no longer to be a sure thing. As a growing body of evidence has made clear in recent days, our nation came much closer than most of us had realized to experiencing a right-wing coup d’état in the aftermath of the 2020 presidential election. What’s more, the would-be traitors behind the effort remain on the scene and, by all indications, actively engaged in renewing their efforts.

Meanwhile, the people and organizations with the greatest power to help expose this criminality and stop it – Republican politicians and their allies in national and state conservative think tanks – remain worrisomely muted or even complicit in the scheme. [Read more…]

7. NC schoolchildren deserve better than childish excuses  (Commentary)

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