Archive for Education

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.

Read More→

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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During the post-September 11 panic, the radical right-wing pundits like Mark Steyn peddled fears that Muslims with their high birthrate might overrun western civilization and forcibly convert America to Islam. Now that they’ve gained the upper hand in the North Carolina General Assembly (NCGA), radical right legislators (and their oligarch backers) are determined to forcibly convert state property and services purchased with public money into private profit. (Remember Russia?) For a quick buck, carpetbagging worshipers of the Golden Calf are flexing their muscles in Raleigh to demolish what North Carolinians built over the last half century.

For all their contempt for “the 47 percent” and “makers and takers” framing, Michael Lind explains that rent-seeking monopolists in the private sector are the real parasites:

In today’s rentier-friendly conservative ideology, somebody who makes payday loans at usurious interest rates, gouges businesses with high insurance rates, or gets paid tolls from a privatized toll road is as much a “maker” and an “entrepreneur” and a “capitalist” as someone who puts together a team of inventors, engineers, workers and investors to apply 3-D printing to printing replacement body parts. All money-making enterprises are supposed to be equally productive and socially useful, for no other reason than they make somebody rich.

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Mar
21

Let me tell you how it will be — BANKMAN!!

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Suze Orman discusses student debt at the Remaking America Panel recorded January 12, 2012.

(Cuz I got nothin’.)

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[h/t Upworthy]

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Picture 2Casey Blake at the Asheville Citizen-Times did a great job going through the candidates for Asheville’s City School Board. That article is here. This is an amazingly accomplished set of candidates. Any of them would do an excellent job, but it’s up to City Council to select those candidates who will be the right people at this time. Go have a look, and please let me know your thoughts.

The process is this: Anyone could apply up until the deadline last month. Thirteen people did. City Council composed five essay questions, and eleven of the candidates responded. Council members are reviewing the essay responses, and we will each choose five candidates to interview. School Board Member Peggy Dalman gets an automatic interview as she is applying for a second term, and at least five others will be interviewed based on which candidates receive the most nods from Council members. School Board candidate interviews will take place Tuesday, March 12 from 10am-Noon in Council Chambers in City Hall. That night we’ll vote on who ought to occupy the three available seats.

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Feb
14

Do You Detect A Pattern?

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TN mapIs it just me, or does it seem the GOP has an agenda to weaken the political influence of large cities where people tend to vote Democrat? No, I’m not just talking about North Carolina.

Charter school bill passes first test in Nashville

A bill allowing charter school applicants to apply directly to the state passed its first hurdle in Nashville Tuesday, potentially setting up a way for the suburbs here to have charter schools outside the control of the Unified Shelby County School Board.

The bill would allow charter school operators in Shelby and Davidson counties freedom to apply to the state to approve their charter applications instead of the local school board.

[...]

Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Chattanooga, challenged White on why the law should apply only to Memphis and Nashville.

“That’s where the activity in charters is going on. We thought it best to start the discussion there,” White said.

Would that would be a discussion like the “negotiations” over Asheville’s water supply or over Charlotte’s airport?

I just spoke with a town clerk on the other end of the state. When I told her about the NC Senate and the House bills aimed at placing the Charlotte airport under state control, she gasped, “That’s just not right.”

Feb
07

Against Pre-K, In Charge of Pre-K

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UPDATE: Loretta Boniti of News14 is reporting via Twitter: “Dianna Lightfoot, DHHS appointee, has informed Sect. Wos she will NOT take this position.”

Laura Leslie:

Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Aldona Wos announced Tuesday that Dianna Lightfoot has been appointed the state’s new director of Child Development and Early Education.

The Division of Child Development and Early Education, or DCDEE, oversees the state’s child-care program as well as NC Pre-K, which was moved into Health and Human Services from the Department of Public Instruction last session.
[...]
The National Physicians Center for Family Resources, which Lightfoot founded in 2001, advocates against “institutional” preschool programs.

“In the case of early childhood education programs, available research suggests they may actually be inferior to early learning opportunities at home. In addition, it appears the demand for out of home childcare is not as prevalent as many advocates claim,” says an open letter signed by Lightfoot on the group’s website.

The letter also warns that “There is great potential for early learning institutions to foster more dependency on the government (i.e. taxpayer) and more of an entitlement mentality.”

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