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Updated: 2 hours 39 min ago

The Constitutional Challenge to School Vouchers (full video)

Wed, 02/11/2015 - 05:56
On Tuesday,February 17th, lawyers on both sides of the school voucher argument will appear before the state Supreme Court to make their respective cases. NC Justice Center staff attorney Christine Bischoff shares the background and current status of the constitutional challenge. Former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Mike Ward, a lead plaintiff in the case ...

Politico: Education behemoth Pearson reaps millions from no-bid public education contracts (including NC)

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 16:17
Politico’s Stephanie Simon published an investigative report today looking into the business dealings of British education giant Pearson, finding that the company’s success is due in part to negotiating lucrative no-bid contracts with public education agencies around the country — including one with North Carolina. The investigation found that public officials often commit to buying from ...

ICYMI: SEANC’s Dana Cope facing tough questions from N&O about purchases (Update, with Cope resignation)

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 11:56
UPDATE, 2:20 p.m.: Dana Cope resigned Tuesday afternoon from his position with SEANC, saying he had “blurred the lines between my personal life and my professional life,” according to WRAL. For those who may have missed it, the News & Observer published an investigation this weekend detailing some questionable spending that’s gone at the State ...

As committees heat up, General Assembly website goes dark

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 09:51
One hopes and presumes it’s a coincidence, but it sure is strange that the longtime General Assembly website (www.ncleg.net) disappeared this morning just as legislative committees started to meet. For some weird reason, the General Assembly is now back at it’s old and rather archaic address www.ncga.state.nc.us. In addition, some of the links on the ...

Public school teacher explains why he’ll be marching this Saturday

Tue, 02/10/2015 - 08:05
With the ninth annual Moral March on Raleigh/HK on J set for this Saturday, this morning’s Weekly Briefing attempts to remind readers of the enormous similarities between the civil rights movement of the 20th Century and today’s movement for justice in North Carolina. If you’re wavering on whether to attend, the piece may provide an ...

What North Carolina could be doing to ensure jobless North Carolinians get back to work

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 13:49
There is a lot more that North Carolina policymakers could be doing to ensure that the state’s jobless workers get back to work. Despite the improving economy there remain too few people employed across the country and in North Carolina relative to pre-recession levels. And the changing nature of work characterized most clearly by the ...

Dean Smith: Another reason why inclusion in the Pope-Civitas “Map of the Left” is a badge of honor

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 13:31
I didn’t attend UNC and had only lived in North Carolina for a year when Coach Dean Smith won his final NCAA championship in 1993. I do have two daughters who are both Chapel Hill grads, but save for that and my admiration/appreciation for the school, any connections to Coach Smith that I have ever ...

Tipping their hands on same-sex marriage?

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 12:38
This morning, a majority of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court refused to block same-sex marriages in Alabama pending the high court’s decision on the constitutionality of similar marriage bans in other states — making Alabama the 37th state in which such marriages are permitted. The court is scheduled to hear cases out of Michigan, ...

Teach for America now has a recruitment problem

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 11:40
Fewer college grads are flocking to Teach for America. The New York Times reported last week that the embattled teacher training program, to which the North Carolina General Assembly has chosen to funnel millions of taxpayer dollars at great expense of the soon-to-be-defunct yet highly praised N.C. Teaching Fellows program, saw a ten percent drop in ...

Rep. Stam admits he doesn’t understand Medicaid expansion that he opposes

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 09:30
Rep. Paul Stam was bellowing about the evils of expanding Medicaid on WRAL-TV’s On the Record this weekend. He claimed that every dollar the federal government spends on expansion is being borrowed from the Chinese, which a WRAL fact check story showed to be ridiculous. He also said that we don’t need to expand the ...

Senator Phil Berger: Taking hypocrisy to new levels

Mon, 02/09/2015 - 07:50
In case you missed it over the weekend, Charlotte Observer editorial page editor had a scathing and excellent essay taking Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger to task for his downright embarrassing hypocrisy on the issue of redistricting reform. As Batten points out, Berger was sponsored at least five reform bills over a period of eight ...

North Carolinians honor the legacy of Dean Smith

Sun, 02/08/2015 - 20:40
North Carolinians are remembering the life and legacy of former University of North Carolina men’s basketball coach Dean Smith, who died Saturday evening in Chapel Hill at the age of 83.  A small sampling of those statements are listed below. For more on Smith as an advocate for social justice, click here. “Over the next ...

Reaction to A-F school grades: “you’re just grading poverty.”

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 16:03
Cabarrus County Schools’ Deputy Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction, Dr. Jason VanHeukelum, is not happy with the state’s new A-F school grading system. “More than 90 percent of our teachers met or exceeded growth targets in 2013—yet 20 percent of our schools received Ds,” said VanHeukelum in an interview with N.C. Policy Watch. “Those figures just don’t ...

Pew Report Highlights Importance of Evaluating Tax Code Spending for Economic Development

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 15:40
A report released this week by Pew Charitable Trust provides new insights into how states can regularly evaluate their use of economic development tax expenditures to ensure that the intended outcomes are being achieved and inform decisions about ongoing commitment of public dollars to those efforts. Just this week the Budget & Tax Center highlighted ...

Nearly 480,000 North Carolinians sign up for coverage through HealthCare.gov

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 14:46
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that 479,748 North Carolina consumers have selected a health insurance plan (or were automatically re-enrolled) through the HealthCare.gov website. With just a handful of days left in this year’s open enrollment period, HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell visited Raleigh Friday to promote the affordability of marketplace ...

State dollars to teach creationism? Luncheon to explore whether State Supreme Court will give its approval

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 13:55
If it strikes you as odd and troubling that North Carolina has started bestowing “failing” grades on public schools even as it writes checks to unaccountable private schools which teach that humans and dinosaurs coexisted on the planet at the same time, you’re not alone. The idea of school vouchers remains enormously controversial in our ...

The REAL worker’s compensation fraud Gov. McCrory should be worried about

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 11:07
Employers reduce labor costs by misclassifying workers who should be on their payroll as employees, and instead calling them independent contractors. This employer payroll fraud was exhaustively documented by Mandy Locke and her team of reporters in the News & Observer’s series “Contract to Cheat” last fall. It costs the state millions of dollars in ...

Was this the most offensive part of the State of the State speech?

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 10:47
As we noted in this space yesterday morning, there were some things to like in Gov. Pat McCrory’s State of the State speech Wednesday evening. For the most part, the Governor sounded more like good ol’ Moderate Mayor Pat rather than the champion of reactionary change who signed some of the nation’s most extreme legislation ...

Why one A-F grade for a school makes about as much sense as one A-F grade for your child

Fri, 02/06/2015 - 07:23
Yesterday, North Carolina took the latest in an series of steps cooked up by conservative advocates and ideologues to demoralize and depopulate our public education system (what they call “government schools”) — the release of the  much ballyhooed A-F grades for individual schools. As we’ve quickly learned — surprise!! — schools with lots of poor ...

Tom Ross’ inbox the day he parted ways with UNC

Thu, 02/05/2015 - 16:00
The Chronicle of Higher Education recently requested and reviewed hundreds of emails that UNC President Tom Ross received Jan. 16, the day he was forced out of his job by the UNC Board of Governors. Ross, who had been the head of the UNC system since 2011, has said he hoped to stay on with ...

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