Priorities and the Jet that Ate the Budget

Photo by Flickr user Skakerman

A recent article in Raleigh’s News and Observer focused on the F-35 jet. The American Friends Service Committee calls this weapon system the “plane that ate the budget” and puts the lifetime cost at $1.5 trillion. Over the same period of years that Lockheed Martin has encouraged Congress to continue funding the most expensive weapon system ever, we have cut many needed domestic programs that feed our hungry and educate our children. This system isn’t yet working and is way behind schedule. Sen. John McCain said “The (F-35) Joint Strike…

Undocugraduation: Hope to Replace Fear

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By Wayde Marsh, Duke Divinity School Intern On my way to work one day last week, I listened to WUNC as I usually do. I heard a lot about the state legislature during my drive to Raleigh – about how the Senate budget will cut up to 8,500 teaching assistants jobs and the stories of TAs lobbying Senators to rethink the plan, about how the House plan is much different, but both will leave the state with millions of unused funds, and about Moral Monday protesters naming the injustices of…

Revenue Boosts and Tax-cut Boasts

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The rooster crowed. The sun came up. The rooster puffed his feathered chest as he beheld his magnificent handiwork. Phil Berger led the state Senate in cutting taxes. Revenues nudged up, putting the state on course to finish its budget year in the black. Berger proclaimed that the tax cuts had done the trick. One might even say that he crowed. “Two years ago, when the Republican legislature passed the largest tax cut in state history, Chicken Littles on the left loudly cried North Carolina would lose so much tax…

Justice Advocates Convene for the Cause

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The Council of Churches’ Legislative Seminar – its top-profile public event of the year – is meant to inform, and it’s meant to inspire. We’re not too bashful to say that this year’s version, held on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary, succeeded on both counts. With the General Assembly moving into the heart of its biennial “long session” – and with conservative legislators seemingly bent on deepening many of the ill-advised holes they’ve been digging for themselves and the state – the seminar focused on a…

Universities Take a Hit with Loss of Ross

Photo by Dan Sears, UNC-Chapel Hill

Photo by Dan Sears, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill The University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors, in telling system President Tom Ross in January that he could serve one more year but no more, offered no specific reason other than, well, it was time to start planning for a change. By next Jan. 3, when his tenure will end after five years, Ross will have turned 65 – the age at which previous system heads have retired. Ross, however, was hoping to stay on the job….

Council Puts Hot Topics on the Table

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The mission of the NC Council of Churches extends into many areas that highlight the links between faith and public policies. And of the various events and activities sponsored by the Council, none is more closely focused on those links than the Legislative Seminar – giving it a special prominence on the Council calendar. No, it’s not a seminar of the sort familiar on college campuses – a small gathering around a cozy table. This is bigger and broader. It’s meant to be a multifaceted learning experience and strategy session,…

Coming to the Seminar? Bring a Friend!

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The Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar is about a month away, and we have an exciting program of preachers, workshops, and presenters planned. If you’ve already registered to be with us, thank you and we look forward to seeing you on April 14. If you haven’t registered, please do so by April 7 in order to guarantee lunch. Either way, we hope you’ll help us get the word out to other progressive people of faith. You can find a color flyer here or a program and registration form here to print…

Register for 2015 Legislative Seminar — Updated with Workshops and Presenters

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Join us on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary for the Council’s 2015 Legislative Seminar. Held every two years, the Seminar equips people of faith with the information they need to be advocates on issues before the NC General Assembly. Registration with workshop options is below. Please scroll through the registration section for a full list of topics and presenters. The cost is $15 for students, $25 for all others, and that includes a light breakfast underwritten by Partners in Health and Wholeness, and a boxed lunch prepared by the Interfaith…

Doomed UNC Centers Sang the Wrong Songs

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It’s easy to imagine what the conservative Republicans who rule North Carolina’s legislative roost were thinking: “Here we’ve gone to all the trouble to take control of the General Assembly. We appoint the University of North Carolina system’s Board of Governors. We set the system’s budget. “So why should we have to put up with the jibes of an impudent Democrat law professor who uses his university job to accuse us of ignoring poverty? What do he and his liberal pals know about putting more money in poor people’s pockets?…

Time to Uphold UNC’s Anti-Poverty Mission

Photo from the Office of Governor Patrick

One can say this about UNC-Chapel Hill’s Gene Nichol without fear of contradiction: He doesn’t seem to know when to keep his mouth shut or his keyboard quiet. Good for him! Throughout his years in North Carolina, Nichol from his law professor’s perch has been a pugnacious crusader on behalf of the state’s social and economic underdogs. And when it comes to criticizing the governmental chiefs whose conservative policies have hurt those underdogs’ interests, Nichol hasn’t been shy about calling them out – even when it became obvious that the…

Gene Nichol Won’t Let Us Ignore Poverty

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Gene Nichol was the recipient of the Council’s 2013 Faith Active in Public Life Award. (To see his keynote address at our 2013 Legislative Seminar, “It’s Better Not to Be Poor in North Carolina,” click here.) Gene’s upbringing and education in Catholic circles have led him to a special concern for the most vulnerable people in our midst. Gene is a law professor, former UNC Law dean, and the director of the Center for Poverty, Work, and Opportunity, an important part of the work of the UNC Law School. His…

Grading the Schools: The Poverty Link

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The scheme ordered up by the conservatives who hold power in the NC General Assembly to assign a single letter grade to each of the state’s public schools – ostensibly as a quality signal so simple that even a caveman could get it – has proved, well, unhelpful. Given the way the grades were figured, it’s hardly a surprise to find that schools where most of the students come from relatively well-off families scored on average pretty well. To find schools that rated A’s, just look in the upper-middle class…

What Frightens Civitas?

Marc Mullinax from HKonJ

Apparently I scare Civitas. Maybe it’s my upbringing. I was raised by a single mom (my parents divorced when I was a toddler) who was fortunate to have a solid job with the federal government and a supportive family who were the safety net between us and poverty. We were lucky. Maybe it was my education. I came up through the Virginia public schools, Kindergarten through college (Wahoowa, y’all!). I attended U.Va. on a partial scholarship from a corporation that thought supporting young people of color through higher education was…

Welcome EdNC to the Conversation

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Education has been of central importance to the NC Council of Churches throughout our history. Part of our opposition to segregation was support for a fully integrated public school system. When it seemed that too many voices of faith were bashing public schools, the Council’s Public Education Committee was created to provide an alternate voice. Public education is probably our society’s greatest equalizer, opening opportunities to people of all backgrounds, incomes, and abilities. Now there’s a new news service to help North Carolinians be better informed about what is going…

Conservatives, Riding High, Can Heed Cooler Heads

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There’s no getting around the fact that when North Carolinians went to the polls on Nov. 5, they gave a thumbs-up to the conservatives who’ve been in charge at the General Assembly for the last four years – doing damage that calls to mind the proverbial elephant in a china shop. Republican victories might not all have been overwhelming (putting aside those districts rendered virtually immune from competition by GOP gerrymandering), and in a handful of cases Democratic challengers emerged on top. But when the dust settled, the rightward tilt…