Archive for Education

North Carolina educators angry at recent legislation that phases out tenure, cuts extra pay for advanced teaching degrees, cuts teacher assistant jobs, and cuts money for instructional supplies and more planned to send Gov. Pat McCrory a sack of coal for Christmas. In August, when women’s health advocates angry over new abortion restriction protested in front of the governor’s mansion, McCrory tried to placate them with a plate of cookies.

Despite recent attempts by the state of North Carolina to marginalize them, Moral Monday protests will continue into 2014. Over 930 people volunteered to be arrested in civil disobedience against extreme legislation passed by the GOP-led legislature in 2013. New voting restrictions have been described as the most restrictive in the nation.

The Nation‘s John Nichols declared the 10,000-strong Mountain Moral Monday protest in Asheville, NC on August 5 the Most Valuable Protest of 2013.

On Christmas, the Associated Press reported that Moral Monday protests will spread across the South in 2014: Read More→

Wisconsin and Minnesota provide a nice side-by-side comparison of Republican and Democratic economic policies in action. They’re next door to each other and share similar demographics.

Three years into [GOP Gov. Scott] Walker’s term, Wisconsin lags behind Minnesota in job creation and economic growth. As a candidate, Mr. Walker promised to produce 250,000 private-sector jobs in his first term, but a year before the next election that number is less than 90,000. Wisconsin ranks 34th for job growth. Mr. Walker’s defenders blame the higher spending and taxes of his Democratic predecessor for these disappointments, but according to Forbes’s annual list of best states for business, Wisconsin continues to rank in the bottom half.

Along with California, Minnesota is the fifth fastest growing state economy, with private-sector job growth exceeding pre-recession levels. Forbes rates Minnesota as the eighth best state for business. Republicans deserve some of the credit, particularly for their commitment to education reform. They also argue that Minnesota’s new growth stems from the low taxes and reduced spending under Mr. Dayton’s Republican predecessor, [GOP Gov. Tim] Pawlenty. But Minnesota’s job growth was subpar during Mr. Pawlenty’s eight-year tenure and recovered only under [Democratic Gov. Mark] Dayton.

It is a little early to assess NC Gov. Pat McCrory. In spite of McCrory’s and the NCGOP’s refrain that the state is “broken” owing to one hundred years of Democratic dominance, North Caroilna consistently ranks as one of the top ten best states to do business. But it has lost ground since last year on one survery, falling from first place to second behind Georgia. This, of course, leaves McCrory with not much of anywhere to go except down.

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The education reform industry is hungry for a bite of “the Big Enchilada,” the trillion dollars in public money spent in this country each year on public education. The charter, voucher and online schools reformers promote have been plagued by financial scandals and a checkered achievement record. Lack of academic and state oversight, coupled with reduced teacher standards have shown that leaving our children’s education to the Wild West of corporate capitalism is no way to guarantee our children’s or our country’s future.

David Sheriff and his daughter found out just how wild school choice has become when she tried to use her diploma from Wisconsin Career Academy, a Milwaukee Public Schools charter school, to get into college.

David’s daughter Amanda enrolled and attended all four years of high school. She graduated, and got her diploma in 2009. After working for a few years she decided this summer she’d like to apply to college, so she says she looked into the medical assistant program at the Milwaukee Career College.

Surprise.

The Admissions Director said she’d have to get her GED because the charter school she attended wasn’t accredited. Amanda says she was shocked.

“I’m like, so basically you telling me that I have a 8th grade education, right now?”

Luckily for Amanda, there was a mix up on dates. She’d graduated before the school lost its accreditation. But David is not exactly sanguine about the outcome and took her cautionary tale of school choice to the local news. It’s buyer beware. Voters, too.

Under the rubric of freedom, choice, competition and reform — even after disastrous the Crash of 2008 — voters are being offered more chances to be played by sharks in the Finance, Insurance, and Real Estate industries by public officials elected to protect the interests and futures of people like Amanda. But even record profits are not enough. Parents with children in primary and secondary education are now targets as well. And why? What is the largest portion of the annual budget in all 50 states?

(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)

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In a letter to the News & Observer, Karen Lewis slams North Carolina House Majority Leader Paul “Skip” Stam for condescending and sexist remarks about June Atkinson, the superintendent of public instruction for North Carolina.

Atkinson said private schools funded under the new voucher program should be evaluated using the same tests as public schools so parents can compare apples to apples. “The public needs a consistent measure of reading achievement in particular,” Atkinson said. New legislation allows private schools to select which national tests to us and allows some to opt out of reporting results.

Stam suggested that Atkinson “stick to her own knitting.”

Lewis responds:

Setting aside for the moment the appallingly condescending and sexist rhetoric Stam chose, I propose that he do the same thing he calls on Atkinson to do. Voters elected him and his cohorts to create jobs and restore economic prosperity to North Carolina, but they’ve instead rolled back personal freedoms, voting rights, access to medical care and, yes, funding of the very public schools Atkinson has been elected to lead.

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With the North Carolina state legislature in recess, Moral Mondays – the Forward Together Movement – began a march across the state, starting in Asheville on August 5 with the largest protest yet. The crowd “well exceeded” the 5,000 the Asheville police department had prepared for, with early police estimates to 10,000.

“You can’t do wrong in Raleigh and then hide back home,” said NC NAACP president the Rev. William Barber. Firing up the crowd as he has in Raleigh, Barber condemned the actions of the state legislature as “constitutionally inconsistent, morally indefensible and economically insane.” Barber and other speakers called out local and state legislators by name, some of whom were in the crowd.

“From the mountains to the coast, we’re sick of this mess,” Barber declared. “This is no momentary hyperventilation or liberal screaming match; this is a movement. We have a governor that has decided to be on the wrong side of history. We have a legislature that is bragging and boasting about its power and is legislating on the basis of lies and discrimination. Though they have temporary power, the future does not belong to them.”

Barber and other speakers addressed education, labor, LGBT rights and a bill seizing the local water system. Asheville local, Heather Rayburn, spoke surrounded with a group of other civil disobedience protestors arrested in Raleigh. Keeping with the moral theme, Rayburn reminded the crowd, “This group of jailbirds and I believe in the Golden Rule. That we should treat people the way we would want to be treated. And politicians should live by the Golden rule too.”

(Cross-posted from Crooks and Liars.)

Jun
29

Assault On Public Education

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What have I been telling you?

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“Public Education is the heart of democracy” http://goingpublic.org/documentary

Going Public explores the privatization of public education, who’s profiting… and why now?

We’re currently raising funds to finish production. If you’d like to get involved or donate, please visit: http://goingpublic.org/documentary

This is what the GOP in Raleigh has in store for North Carolina’s schools.

It’s an assault on the very idea of public education branded as “reform” because “profit” — the truth — wouldn’t sell. Because like Benedict Arnold multinationals, some of these “patriots” object to paying taxes that don’t redound to their personal and corporate coffers.

Besides, how much education do waiters and gardeners really need anyway?

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Jun
03

Moral Monday

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Growing numbers of people are gathering on Mondays in Raleigh to voice their strong support for the things that keep our society and economy ticking – Education, Health Care, and Voting Rights among them. The weekly gatherings are called Moral Mondays. Supporters have gathered outside and inside, and many have been arrested for refusing to end their peaceful occupation of public buildings. NC Policy Watch has a statistical list up today regarding the NC Senate budget. Excerpt:

Thousands and thousands – Number of low-income, pregnant women who will be kicked off of the state Medicaid plan and forced into the private insurance market under the Senate budget plan (“Senate budget plan kicks pregnant women off of Medicaid,” The Progressive Pulse, May 23, 2013)

25 – Years since former Republican Governor Jim Martin helped launch a major statewide effort to reduce North Carolina’s infant mortality rate (which was then highest in the nation) by expanding eligibility to Medicaid for low-income pregnant women (Ibid)

185% of the federal poverty level (or about $20,000 per year for a single person) – Income eligibility threshold for Medicaid health insurance for pregnant women that was ultimately enacted as part of that successful effort (Ibid)

From 13 per 1,000 to 7.2 per 1,000 – Amount infant mortality rate has fallen in North Carolina during that period (Tom Vitaglione, Senior Fellow for Health and Safety at Action for Children N.C)

133% of the federal poverty level (or about $15,000 per year for a single person) – Income threshold under the budget adopted by the North Carolina Senate (The Progressive Pulse, May 23, 2013)

It’s this kind of thing that has prompted the Moral Monday demonstrations that have grown week after week. Below you’ll find a video with lots of excerpts from previous events. There’s a big demonstration scheduled for today.

May
20

NC Senate Budget Proposal

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Use this thread for all things budgety. The proposed Senate Budget does not include any tax reform details. Rumor has it that the poor and middle class will be paying more under the coming tax shift, while big corporations and the wealthiest pay less. Keep that context in mind as you read all of the spin. Also bear in mind that education and health care are two of the primary pathways out of poverty and for staying in the middle class. The Legislature will deal with raising taxes on the poor a little further down the road. Here are some bulleted budget points from various sources.

WRAL:
– Senate leaders released a $20.6 billion budget Sunday night

– overall education spending dropping when compared to the current year.

– paves the way for an effort to privatize [Medicaid], something the governor is already studying.

– Among the other proposed changes the Senate budget would make to Medicaid and health services are:
— cuts covered doctor visits on Medicaid from 22 per year to 10.
— raises co-pays for services.
— cuts private nursing services by $5 million.
— cuts mental health drugs by $5 million.
— cuts aids drug assistance by 25 percent, or $2 million. The budget also contains a provisions that would direct the state prisons to seek to use ADAP funding to pay for HIV drugs for those in the state prison system.
— closes the state’s three alcohol and drug abuse treatment centers, saving $37 million. In turn, the budget sets aside $10 million to pay for drug treatment services provided through regional mental health care agencies.

– includes a controversial provision that would require applicants for certain welfare programs to undergo drug testing.

– remove class-size caps for elementary school grades.

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May
18

Tax Shift NC

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Y’all know that your North Carolina state government is about to lower taxes for the wealthy and big corporate interests while raising taxes for the poor and middle class, right? They’re also going to privatize Medicaid, which will reduce services for the poor. They’re also slashing child care - 31,000 kids are expected to be cut. They’re also doing away with environmental protections. They’re also savaging voting rights. Both the Senate and House versions of the budget are a move towards regressive taxation and underfunded services.

More info to come, but know that the folks at the General Assembly are about to send you the bill for their ALEC ambitions. North Carolina is their new laboratory, and we’re the lab rats.

May
10

The Math

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AC-T:

F to the N.C. House for moving to continuing to move to tighten eligibility rules for N.C. Pre-K, the state’s free program for at-risk 4-year-olds. House Bill 935 changes the definition of “at-risk’’ children eligible for the program to families of three making about $39,000 a year down to $19,000. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Justin Burr, R-Stanley, said, “Eligibility is up here, and funding is down here. We’re making an effort to bring this eligibility down to something we can fund.”

Currently about 60,000 children are eligible under the definition, a number that could drop to 31,000. At the same time, the House was also moving on a proposal to end North Carolina’s estate tax, which sent $50 million to state coffers last year. Only 23 families paid the tax. Twenty-three families vs. 29,000 kids. The math does not reflect well on this legislature.

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