education

UNC BOG Series Part III: Lack of communication on million-dollar ad campaign raises questions about its motive

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.

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Rep. Ross misrepresented his record on education, clean water and taxes in an ad where he tried to run away from his three-time incumbency

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.

Claim 1: “He fought to boost teacher pay.”
Claim 2: “He fought to safeguard our schools.”
Claim 3: “He fought to protect our water.”
Claim 4: “He fought to cut income taxes for 99 percent of North Carolina’s families.”  
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North Carolina Legislator Profile: Rep. Jon Hardister (R-Guilford)

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.

Photo: Greensboro News & Record
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UNC BOG Series Part II: Financial contributions to lawmakers play a role in UNC System policy

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.

Source: NCSBE
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UNC BOG Series Part 1: State lawmakers are fundamentally altering higher education in North Carolina, but it’s not clear who requested the changes

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.

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Mark Johnson uses NC public schools email list as his personal blog

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.

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North Carolina Legislator Profile update: Larry Yarborough (R-Person, Granville)

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…

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Top 10 issues at stake when you head to the ballot box

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!

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North Carolina Legislator Profile Update: Andy Dulin (R-Mecklenburg)

Dulin places his own advancement above the wants and needs of his constituents. Dulin has called himself a “constituent services guru;” however, he has voted against the desires of those he represents, preferring to ignore constituents in favor of campaign contributions from corporations. He won a seat in the NC House in 2016 following unsuccessful runs for the Republican nomination in the 9th congressional district, NC Senate District 39 against Bob Rucho, and the Mecklenburg County Board of Commissioners. He has been noted for his confidence and calls his political skills “The Dulin Factor.”

Instead of standing up for the needs of his constituents, Dulin consistently played follow-the-leader with his Republican colleagues in Raleigh.

Republicans in the General Assembly have repeatedly denied North Carolinians affordable healthcare. Dulin and his party used a procedural vote to block Medicaid expansion to rural North Carolina. Dulin also voted to pass an amended bill originally touted as school safety legislation after Senate Republicans added provisions that would drive up insurance premiums and allow providers to price out preexisting conditions. 

Dulin voted for the 2017 Republican budget that prioritized tax cuts over funding public education and has always advocated for cutting funding from public schools. In 2004 he said CMS can do with what they are given, and “what they're given [,,,] is enough. Meanwhile, per pupil spending remains below pre-recession levels in North Carolina. The 2017 budget also allocated $45 million to private school voucher programs, siphoning money from public education.

Following the school shooting in Parkland, FL, Dulin sponsored a “school safety” bill that included no provisions on gun safety or mental health. Republican leadership blocked gun debate, pushing the narrative that guns are irrelevant to school safety. Dulin does not own a gun, but has said, “By golly, that second amendment is there for a reason.”

Continue reading to learn more about Dulin.

Source: Charlotte Observer

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North Carolina Legislator Profile Update: Jonathan Jordan (R-Ashe, Watauga)

Jonathan Jordan was elected in 2010 and has served four terms. Previously working for the right-wing John Locke Foundation, Jordan has maintained his strong relationship with the group’s founder, Art Pope. Since being in office, he has accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from associated groups and consistently voted for legislation in line with Pope’s radical right-wing vision for North Carolina. North Carolina deserves a legislator that will put the needs of North Carolina first, not wealthy benefactors.

Jordan has spent his eight years in the legislature undermining education in NC. Because of Jordan’s votes, education remains insufficiently funded. North Carolina teacher pay has not meaningfully increased during Jordan’s time in office. Jordan has supported legislation that takes money away from public education and diverts it to private schools, prioritizing his private interests over the wellbeing of students across the state. To make it even worse, Jordan has accepted campaign contributions from groups who do not care about North Carolina’s future for education. Jordan cares more about his own pocket than our teachers and students.

Jordan voted against expanding Medicaid to North Carolinians, causing costs to skyrocket for all North Carolinians and especially those who need it the most – it’s a big part of why we have the 3rd most expensive health care in the country. Clearly in line with Art Pope’s agenda, Jordan’s vote against Medicaid expansion actively hurts North Carolinians and limits access to healthcare.

Jordan, having received donations from Duke Energy, chose to not hold them accountable after their coal ash spill in 2016 and to pass the cost onto the ratepayers. After the spill, legislation was introduced that would free Duke Energy from the responsibility of cleaning up the disaster they caused. This ultimately saved Duke Energy billions of dollars, at the expense of North Carolinians and the environment.

Read on for more about Jordan’s record of placing his relationships.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source: WataugaWatch

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