Have you talked to a teacher in North Carolina recently? Or, more importantly, have you really listened to one? If you know or care about any teachers in this state, you most likely have witnessed their struggle to make ends meet under salaries that do not reflect their unremitting workload.Read More
A few days ago, Superintendent of public instruction Mark Johnson sent out the mailer below on school nutrition. School nutrition remains a critical battleground as students and families battle food insecurity amidst stagnating wages and continual budget cuts in North Carolina.
Real Facts previously documented how Johnson used the NC public schools email list as his personal blog. Now, it seems that Johnson has moved to glossy mailers as a medium for his vacuous nutrition advice. Below, find an annotated version of Johnson’s note.Read More
At the beginning of October, coinciding with the opening of FASFA applications for 2019, the NC Promise program launched an ad campaign to promote the new plan. “We Promise” aims to raise awareness amongst North Carolinians about the opportunity to utilize NC Promise, which UNC claims will make higher education more affordable for students, yet has many low-income students paying more out-of-pocket costs. The marketing campaign comes with a $1 million price tag.
The News & Observer reported that the legislature funded the marketing push but did not specify who requested the funding. A public records request for any correspondence between Margaret Spellings, President of the UNC System, Drew Moretz, Vice President for State Government Relations for the UNC System, Timothy Minor, Vice President for University Advancement for the UNC System, Andrew P. Kelly, Senior Vice President for Strategy and Policy for the UNC System, Camille Barkley, Associate Vice President for Media Relations for the UNC System, Josh Ellis, Associate Vice President for Media Relations for the UNC System, Clayton Somers, Vice Chancellor for Public Affairs and Secretary to UNC-Chapel Hill, Amy Auth, Director of State Affairs at UNC-Chapel Hill, and the North Carolina General Assembly turned up no communication. According to this, there was absolutely no communication about a $1 million ad campaign between any members of the UNC System’s senior staff.Read More
Rep. Steve Ross (R-Alamance) is running for a fourth term in the North Carolina House of Representatives.
In a new ad, Ross claims he’s made several legislative decisions that help Alamance County: boosting teacher pay, safeguarding schools, protecting clean water and cutting income tax for 99 percent of families. His record proves otherwise.
Jon Hardister, the House Majority Whip and close ally of Speaker Tim Moore, was elected to represent Guilford County in 2012.
Since his election to the General Assembly, Hardister supported Republican budgets that shortchange public education by failing to meaningfully raise teacher salaries or fund classrooms.In 2017, the Republican budget gave no raises to beginning teachers and a 0.6 percent raise to experienced teachers— the equivalent of “just a tank of gas.” He has also supported moves to end tenure while asserting that having an advanced degree “does not necessarily make a teacher more effective.” Hardister called the 2017 budget “a commitment to public education.” This “commitment to public education” did not include a stipend to aid teachers with out-of-pocket expenses. After voting to pass the 2013 budget—which similarly failed to adequately fund schools— Hardister said he came to regret his vote after “experiencing firsthand how hard the teachers work.”
Hardister voted to deny affordable insurance to thousands.In 2013, he and the Republicans voted to block a fully-funded Medicaid expansion that covered half a million North Carolinians. Studies said this failure to expand affordable healthcare would cost the state $15 billion in new economic activity and 455 to 1,145 lives per year. Hardister later said it would be “unwise” to expand Medicaid and that we need to be “cautious about expanding the role of government in healthcare.” In 2018, Hardister and House Republicans used a loophole on a non-controversial bill to attempt to dismantle coverage for pre-existing conditions. By adding an amendment to an unrelated school psychologist licensure bill, Republicans tried to pass a statute that would discriminate against those with pre-existing health conditions, offer skimpy benefits, and come with few or no consumer protections.
Hardister likes to harp on redistricting reform as a talking point but chose to repeatedly support unconstitutional districts that suppress voters’ electoral power. He has sponsored three independent redistricting bills, but they all stalled in committee. To avoid “double-bunking” with incumbent Guilford representative John Faircloth, Hardister moved, even though he says he believes the “seats don’t belong to us, they belong to the people.” After both the 2011 and 2017 legislative maps were struck down by the courts, Hardister said he believed the maps were “in compliance with the law.” He also helped draw the 2016 congressional maps that were later thrown out in court. When Sen. Trudy Wade tried to pass a Greensboro City Council redistricting bill, Hardister said he would oppose the bill. He “caved when it counted,” changing his vote at the last minute.
Read more here.
One of the largest concerns for current students, prospective students, faculty, and staff in the UNC system is how the state legislature, which controls nearly all of the system’s overall budget, selects and interacts with the System’s leadership. Looking at political contributions made by the Board of Governors, the governing body of the UNC system, and to NC lawmakers who make the appointments brings to light how budgetary and other crucial decisions about the UNC System are made.
Sen. Wesley Meredith (R-Cumberland) was the only original NC Promise Plan sponsor to receive contributions from current members of the BOG. His biggest contributor is Michael Williford, who contributed a total of $24,700 to Meredith between 2012 and 2018. Williford was appointed to the Board in 2015, and received his JD from NCCU, another HBCU within the system that is not slated to be deeply impacted by the Promise Plan, but is currently facing criticism for erasing the culture of the university.
The 2017-2018 Budget made waves amongst affiliates and community members of the UNC system when it became clear that significant budget cuts would impact several colleges and universities, especially the system’s five HBCUs.
Since 2011 the UNC system has dealt with cuts,including $414 million in 2011 after Republicans gained control of the legislature. The system faced financial aid tuition revenue caps and the consolidation of 46 degree programs. The original version of the 2017 Budget included a $4 million cut to the UNC School of Law that was reduced to $500,000 in compromises before the budget’s final passage. Senate Bill 99, the 2018 Budget, included new changes to create the NC Promise Plan.
The NC Promise Plan was sold as an attempt to address the growing college affordability crisis. Claims of enrollment increases at impacted universities have sparked celebrations of the renewed accessibility of higher education in NC. However, the budget language about NC Promise is cause for concern about the longevity of the universities impacted
Section 10.5 G.S. 116-143.11 says “the State shall ‘buy down’ the amount of any financial obligation resulting from the established tuition rate that may be incurred by Elizabeth City State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, and Western Carolina…” A buy down is a mortgage-financing technique where the buyer attempts to obtain a lower interest rate. According to Business Insider, buy downs usually cause the property seller to raise the purchase price to compensate for the costs of the buy down.Read More
On Thursday morning North Carolina parents and caretakers with a child in NC public schools opened their inboxes to find an email about school safety from Superintendent Mark Johnson with the subject line “School Safety: A Message from NC Superintendent Mark Johnson.”
This message would alarm most parents, perhaps expecting an update about threats to school safety or specific action steps the school plans to take. Instead, Johnson offered tepid commitments in a form email that one expects to receive in campaign correspondence, not an educational necessity. Johnson, with likely 2020 aspirations, may be testing the waters of the DPI listserv as a way to get his name out.
It is not as if Mark Johnson has been free from scandal. In September 2018, Johnson appointed Joe Maimone as his chief of staff, the same man who once claimed that public schools were “milking” federal free and reduced lunch dollars. Moreover, Johnson and Maimone are not so far separated from the Charter School Industrial Complex™, or TeamCFA and Achievement for All Children, a network of charter schools funded by the religious right.
Yarborough simply follows his Republican colleagues lead and votes in line with his party, which has resulted in a lack of public education funding in North Carolina. Yarborough voted for multiple Republican budgets, all of which failed to meaningfully increase teacher pay and left NC nearly…Read More
The wait is over- early voting began today.
For the past eight years a Republican supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly has delivered crushing blows to the health, economic security, and safety of the people in the state. Beginning with then-House Speaker and now North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis’ “Divide and Conquer” approach to the most vulnerable populations in the state, Republican leadership has entrenched an institutional disdain for anyone who is not at the top of the economic ladder.
Here are ten issues at stake in this year’s election to think about when you approach the ballot box! Happy voting!Read More