NC Policy Watch Policy Prescription #4: Promoting racial equity in education

During this week and next, as state lawmakers return to Raleigh for the 2018 legislative session, we hope you will continue reading our special series “Policy Prescriptions” researched and written by A. J. Fletcher Foundation Fellow Samone Oates-Bullock. Prescription #1 addressed food insecurity in North Carolina. Prescription #2 took on the issue of early childhood investments. Prescription #3 analyzed the challenge of funding school adequately and fairly.

This is from today’s installment, “Breaking down barriers: promoting racial equity in education”:

“Despite progress on some fronts, questions of race and racism remain front and center in the debate over education in North Carolina. Nearly two decades into the 21st Century, inequity and lack of access continue to serve as debilitating roadblocks to many students of color. Compared to white students, students of color are more likely to attend schools that are underfunded and overcrowded, that have fewer up-to-date materials, less technology and a lower percentage of highly qualified teachers. And while racial equity is often a topic that goes unaddressed due to fear of controversy, it must be at the forefront of the conversation if our state hopes to create meaningful progress in this vitally important arena….”

Read the full report here.

Commentary, Defending Democracy

Come on, Senator Tillis, do the right thing on this one

The Right’s ongoing judicial coup d’é·tat will sink to a remarkable low today when the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee — including, by all indications, one of its most loyal champions of reaction, Senator Thom Tillis — is expected to advance three extreme Trump nominees to serve lifetime appointments as federal judges. And while that may sound like just a normal day in Washington during these dark times, there is another aspect to the story that makes it even more outrageous and maddening: the votes will take place on the anniversary of the historic Supreme Court school desegregation ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education and — get this — the would-be judges in question refuse to endorse the landmark decision.

This is from a post yesterday from national civil rights leader Vanita Gupta:

“In response to a straightforward question from Sen. Richard Blumenthal last month, Louisiana district court nominee Wendy Vitter refused to say whether the Supreme Court correctly decided Brown v. Board of Education. It was a stunning moment caught on video.

Given that millions of people watched this video, one would imagine the coaching sessions for Trump’s nominees would have prepared them for the question to be asked again, but just two weeks later, Trump’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals nominee, Andrew Oldham, joined four White male district court nominees, including Eastern District of Texas nominee Michael Truncale, in also refusing to say whether Brown v. Board was correctly decided.

It wasn’t a trick question. Current Supreme Court justices—including Justices Thomas and Gorsuch—supported Brown at their nominations hearings.

Considering that the Senate Judiciary Committee stands poised to vote on their nominations this Thursday—64 years following the groundbreaking and unanimous Brown decision—their refusal to agree with this landmark ruling should serve as a wake-up call for what President Trump is trying to do to our independent courts.”

Gupta concludes this way:

“Beyond their disqualifying refusal to answer this question, these nominees have records that are deeply concerning to the civil and human rights community. In addition to a history of hostility to immigrant rights, Vitter has embraced fringe and discredited views about contraception?—?views that she failed to disclose to the Senate. Thirty-nine-year-old Oldham has worked to restrict voting rights, immigrant rights and women’s health—as well as seeking to undermine environmental protection and gun safety. He has even questioned the very existence of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Michael Truncale has echoed Trump’s fear-mongering about the Mexican border and has called for the abolition of the U.S. Department of Education.

By voting to advance Vitter, Oldham, and Truncale to the Senate floor on Thursday, senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee will be affirming that these nominees’ extreme views are now acceptable, that people in America do not deserve fair-minded jurists on the federal bench, and that Brown v. Board of Education was not correctly decided. All committee members must stand on the side of justice and protect our federal courts by voting to reject these three extreme judicial nominees.”

Come on Senator Tillis, do the right thing.


NC Policy Watch Policy Prescription #3: Funding schools fairly and adequately

During this week and next, as state lawmakers return to Raleigh for the 2018 legislative session, we hope you will continue reading our special series “Policy Prescriptions” researched and written by A. J. Fletcher Foundation Fellow Samone Oates-Bullock. Prescription #1 addressed food insecurity in North Carolina. Prescription #2 took on the issue of early childhood investments.

This is from today’s installment, “Show us the money: Funding schools fairly and adequately.”

“While money alone is not enough to solve the issues of adequacy and equity in education, it still plays a critical role in moving the needle. Today, there remain huge gaps in public school funding between North Carolina’s wealthiest and most vulnerable counties. As a result, children attending schools in wealthier counties often have access to better facilities and instructional materials, more experienced teachers, and a variety of other critical resources. Addressing funding disparities would be another big step in improving educational outcomes for all of North Carolina’s students….”

Read the full piece here.


Fuzzy math exposed: Experts debunk GOP teacher pay “facts” (infographic)

At a press conference yesterday, Republican state lawmakers used the visual below in an effort to defend their education funding decisions of recent years. It was almost enough to make a skeptic think that maybe things aren’t so bad for the state’s teachers. But only almost. As the “real facts” visual right below from the experts the NC Justice Center demonstrates, the GOP “facts” come up a little short on being right.


Commentary, News

As teachers gather in Raleigh, Council of Churches lends support by forming “Faith Leaders for NC Children”

The movement to support today’s mass education rally in Raleigh and its goal of reversing a decade of regressive public education policy continues to grow rapidly. This is from the good people at the NC Council of Churches:

Faith Leaders for North Carolina Children (FLFNCC)

Ready to sign up and have your faith community or organization join FLFNCC? Click here to fill out a quick form and we will be in touch with you shortly.

The NC Council of Churches has a long history of supporting public education and recently recommitted to both support and advocacy for the state system of public schools. (See statement by clicking here)

This year, we join the North Carolina Association of Educators and other public school advocates in broadly advocating for five things from our elected leaders:

  1. Significant investment in per-pupil spending (just over $11,000/student) so our students have the resources to be successful.
  2. A multi-year professional pay plan for educators, education support professionals, administrators and all other school personnel. This plan must include restoration of compensation for advanced degrees and longevity. The plan must also stop the flat-lining of experienced educator’s pay.
  3. Investment in the health and well-being of our students with an education that focuses on the whole child, making each school a model that promotes resilience and improves the overall health of our communities.
  4. Passage of a Statewide School Construction Bond to fix our crumbling schools and large class sizes.
  5. Prioritize public education by aligning our tax code with our economic capacity.

To articulate and achieve these goals, the NC Council of Churches has created Faith Leaders for NC Children. This is a coordinated group of ministers, pastors, rabbis, and other leaders in faith communities who are willing to help educate the broader public about educational issues and to use their leadership positions in communities across our state to advocate for public schools.  FLFNCC seeks to build a deep and wide legion of supporters who are willing and able to act when the need arises. Members will commit to contacting elected officials when asked to take a stand on issues related to public education that fit into the scope outlined above.

In addition to being advocates, FLFNCC seeks to create a system of partnerships for congregations and schools systems that incorporates existing mission work with advocacy.  The Council will use its network and reputation to partner with superintendents and school boards to clear the way for schools and faith groups to form community partnerships.  FLFNCC Members agree to have their names added to the public members list and agree to the terms of membership, which include not using the opportunity to proselytize or form prayer groups in public schools.

Please join us by signing up here.

Our partners:  North Carolina Association of Educators, Public Schools First NC

PLEASE JOIN the Council at 1 p.m. on May 16 at First Baptist Church (99 North Salisbury Street, Raleigh) for a teach-in on advocating for and supporting our public schools. Unfortunately, parking will not be available at the church that day. Click here for more event information.