Capital Clash over Education, Health

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North Carolina legislators faced with vexing conflicts over a new state budget spent a solid week pawing and snorting at each other without a lot of movement on the main sticking points. Another case of partisan gridlock? Well, one could say so – except this is a standoff between members of the same party. The stakes are so big, in terms of both policy and politics, that Gov. Pat McCrory has joined the fray, siding with one set of his fellow Republicans against the other. Here, then, are the contending…

Twists, Turns on Teacher Pay

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If this year’s session of the N.C. General Assembly were a work of drama for stage or screen, the plot would be coming to a head. And we in the audience would be perched on the edge of our seats as the actors resolved the mystery: Will the state’s public school teachers get a raise, and if so, how big? There’s little doubt that the state capital powers-that-be – Gov. Pat McCrory and his Republican allies who control the House and Senate – have decided teacher pay is an issue…

Protesters’ Last ‘Salute’ as Legislators Wrangle

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With one final gathering that on June 25 drew more than 1,000 people to the heart of North Carolina’s state government, the NC NAACP and its allies say they have concluded the latest round of Moral Monday protests that focused national attention on policies of the General Assembly and Gov. Pat McCrory. With rare exception, leaders of the Republican-controlled legislature outwardly paid little heed to the protests, which peaked last summer with crowds that could fairly be described as massive. Still, in keeping with the old rule of watching what they…

Council Spotlights Education, Opportunity

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The NC Council of Churches aims to exert a positive influence on public policies that have implications for what is commonly known as social justice. What this often boils down to is spotlighting areas of decision-making in which the interests of ordinary residents – people hoping to live healthy, productive, fulfilling lives, sometimes against the odds – hang in the balance. At this moment in North Carolina’s history, could there be any such area more important than the state’s commitment to its public schools, its community colleges, its public universities?…

Two New Resources on Public Education

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The Council has published two new resources for people of faith interested in supporting North Carolina’s public schools. One is an abbreviated version of the Council’s materials for holding a public education Sabbath. It was compiled by Lauren Chesson, a recent graduate of the MSW program at N.C. State who will enter the MDiv program at Duke in the fall. The other provides an overview of public education in North Carolina, its benefits, the threats it faces, and a call to action for people of faith. It was written as a Capstone…

Choices, Conflicts Amid Budget Squeeze

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First it was Gov. Pat McCrory who tried to fashion a state budget giving teachers a badly needed raise while hamstrung by large tax cuts. Then the N.C. Senate took its turn. Yes, teachers willing to give up their job security could get a pay boost. But the proposed Senate budget fails tests of fairness and adequacy. Now along comes the state House to take still another whack at the budget challenge. While its plan drops a couple of the Senate’s most dubious ideas, when it comes to teacher pay…

Video from June 9 Moral Monday

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The June 9 Moral Monday sent a powerful message to state leaders about the value North Carolinians place on strong public schools. If you couldn’t be there, our friends at the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina have shared some video with us. June 9 Moral Monday on Education Bishop Michael Curry’s Remarks And if you’d like additional ways to engage as a person of faith in supporting our public schools, you are welcome to attend the Council’s Critical Issues Seminar on June 16 at United Church of Chapel Hill. Registration has…

Full Program Available for Critical Issues Seminar on Public Education

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The full program for the our 2014 Critical Issues Seminar on Public Education is now available on the website. It includes registration information, the schedule for the day, and a complete list of workshops and presenters. We are really excited about all the wonderful speakers and presenters who will be joining us to share their knowledge about public education in North Carolina. It should  be a great day full of interesting information. And after we’re done in Chapel Hill, all are encourage to attend Moral Monday in Raleigh. To register, please…

Health Crunch for the Vulnerable

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For most North Carolinians, the myriad choices that comprise the state budget may affect the quality of their children’s education, or whether their favorite state park is kept in good shape, or whether the DMV has enough employees to keep wait times to a minimum. Then there are our neighbors for whom budget decisions can bear directly on their personal well-being. Case in point: people who, if the state Senate has its way, would lose their health insurance coverage under Medicaid. And it’s not as if this group of people…

Senate Budget, Fracking Roar Through

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Say this much for the leaders of the North Carolina Senate and House: When they make up their minds on a course of action, they don’t mess around. The General Assembly was in only the second full week of its 2014 session. But already the Senate, marching quick-time to the cadence set by President Pro Tem Phil Berger, Republican of Eden, was passing its version of a state budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. It’s a budget that significantly raises the stakes in the debate over teacher pay,…

Tax Cuts’ Sour Notes

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If a session of the NC General Assembly can be compared to an opera — comedy, farce or tragedy yet to be determined – then the governor’s recommended budget might amount to the overture. It introduces main themes and sets a mood. But there’s no guarantee that the governor and the legislators who are the opera’s singers will end up making music together. As the 2014 legislative session gets under way in Raleigh, the overture is finished and the curtain is rising to reveal a bevy of performers. As usual,…

From Superior Court to Supreme Court, Education in the News

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Education figured prominently in the news over the past few days, both nationally and locally. As a country, we marked the 60th anniversary of Brown vs. Board of Education, the landmark ruling that separate was inherently unequal in education and which set American schools on the path to integration and parity. At least, that was how it was supposed to work. As we also heard repeatedly this weekend, the legacy of Brown has yet to be fulfilled. Here are reports from Policy Watch and from NPR, but there are plenty…

Looming Battles Over the Schools

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North Carolina legislators may think they have their hands full trying to defuse the hot political issue of the moment – the state’s woeful pay levels for its public school teachers, now averaging 46th in the nation – while also closing budget shortfalls aggravated by unwise tax cuts. Gov. Pat McCrory wants his Republican allies who control the General Assembly to raise teachers’ salaries, but finding the money while keeping budgets in balance won’t be easy without admitting that the tax cuts went too far. That’s the immediate dilemma facing…

Food Drive at Critical Issues Seminar for Backpack Buddies

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In conjunction with the Critical Issues Seminar on Public Education in June, the NC Council of Churches will be collecting non-perishable items to support Inter-Faith Food Shuttle’s Backpack Buddies program. In addition, Catering with a Cause, an IFFS job-training program, is providing the lunch for seminar participants. According to Feeding America, North Carolina ranks in the ten worst state in the percentage of children under 18 who are lacking food on a regular basis. Children need basic sustenance and adequate nutrients to perform well in school. In the past year, Partners in Health…

Education Events on Tap

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The turmoil in North Carolina’s public schools, caused by budget cuts and ill-advised policy choices, has gotten people’s attention. On Saturday, May 3, there’ll be an opportunity to take a closer look at where things stand and what the stakes are for all involved – which, when we’re talking about the schools, means everyone who wants to see young people succeed and the state prosper. The group Public Schools First NC will hold its first statewide forum May 3 at N.C. State University’s McKimmon Center. The forum, “Keeping NC Public…