Friday News: Virtual failure

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NC SENATE SET TO BOOST ENROLLMENT OF VIRTUAL CHARTERS DESPITE "D" GRADES: The Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would, among other things, get rid of the enrollment cap on one of the state’s two virtual charter schools and allow it to grow its population by 20 percent annually if it so chose. While there was no debate on the Senate floor Tuesday, legislative proponents of the bill have said that the schools attract “struggling students” and shouldn’t have a cap that artificially cuts off the number of such students who can use the resource. Opponents, however, point to the schools’ poor performance and trouble with virtual charter schools in other states as reasons not to let the schools grow easily. The North Carolina Association of Educators and the NC Justice Center sent a letter to Gov. Roy Cooper Tuesday asking him to veto the legislation.
https://www.wral.com/virtual-charter-school-gets-legislative-approval-to-grow-but-opponents-push-for...

TRUMP'S "BLASPHEMY" DURING NC SPEECH GETS SOME CHRISTIANS RILED: Among the two instances Trump used the the term, according to RawStory, was an anecdote the president told of a meeting with a disliked business competitor who Trump says admitted to prospering under the Trump administration. “If you don’t support me, you are going to be so Goddamn poor, you are not going to believe it’,” Trump quoted himself telling the man. The president used “goddamn” a second time in a reference to how hard the nation’s armed forces might strike Iran, should it come to a military conflict. Other critics of the president’s language have been less polite than Hardesty. A commenter on FreeRepublic.com accused the president of “blaspheming” and “mocking” God and warned of sure retribution. “It will not matter if you are a street sweeper or the leader of the greatest Republic on earth......GOD will drop you like a stone,” the commenter warned.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/state/north-carolina/article232848697.html

DUKE ENERGY STILL IN TROUBLE OVER 2014 DAN RIVER SPILL: The federal, North Carolina and Virginia governments asked a court Thursday to declare the country's largest electricity company liable for environmental damage from a leak five years ago that left miles of a river shared by the two states coated in hazardous coal ash. Government lawyers sought to have Charlotte-based Duke Energy declared responsible for harming fish, birds, amphibians and the Dan River bottom. Hazardous substances like arsenic and selenium poured into the river at levels high enough to harm aquatic life, according to a complaint filed in the North Carolina federal court district near the site of the 2014 disaster. The leak of waste Duke Energy stored after burning coal for power coated about 70 miles (110 kilometers) of the river from a power plant near Eden, renewing national attention on the risks posed by similar storage pits across the country.
https://www.wral.com/duke-energy-sued-for-2014-coal-ash-spill-environmental-harm/18518677/

U.S. HOUSE PASSES $15 MINIMUM WAGE BILL, EVEN IF IT'S DOA IN THE SENATE: House Democrats approved legislation Thursday to raise the federal minimum wage for the first time in a decade, to $15 an hour, showcasing the progress and challenge of a signature issue for the party ahead of the 2020 election. The increase, which would boost pay for some 30 million low-wage workers, is intended as one answer to income inequality. A longshot project of liberal advocates just a few years ago, the $15 minimum is standard practice at some leading U.S. corporations. But passage was assured only after centrist Democrats, reluctant to embrace the party’s left flank, won adjustments, including a slower six-year phase-in of the wage. It was just the latest reminder of the sway moderates hold over the party’s policy decisions. Even though the bill’s chances in the Republican-controlled Senate are slim, and President Donald Trump is unlikely to sign it into law, the outcome is important because it puts $15 into the campaigns as the new benchmark for debate.
https://www.thetimesnews.com/zz/news/20190718/house-oks-15-minimum-wage-setting-marker-for-2020-camp...

DOCUMENTS REVEAL TRUMP WAS (OF COURSE) DIRECTLY INVOLVED WITH HUSH MONEY SCHEME: Newly unsealed court documents show that then-candidate Donald Trump communicated repeatedly with his lawyer Michael Cohen amid the election year scramble to keep quiet allegations that Trump previously had an affair with an adult-film actress. The documents were released Thursday at the direction of a federal judge in New York, who disclosed a day before that an investigation into suspected campaign finance violations had ended. Trump and those close to him long said they were unaware that Cohen had bought the women’s silence, but phone calls and text messages documented by the FBI suggest they were closely involved. Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, said the documents show “Donald Trump was intimately involved in devising and executing a corrupt scheme to prevent his affair with Stormy Daniels from being revealed in the final weeks of the 2016 election.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/trump-communicated-repeatedly-with-cohen-aides-amid...

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More on virtual charters,

from Billy Ball at NC Policy Watch:

Since their launch in 2015, these two schools have never risen above a “D” school performance grade. They have never met pre-set student growth goals. And not a single shred of that is surprising.

In April, Education Week reported that nearly three-quarters of students enrolled in virtual charters nationwide attended a high school where less than half graduated in four years. Their graduation woes are anything but atypical. In state after state, virtual charters have struggled mightily, lagging on test scores, academic growth and attendance, Education Week found.

In 2015, a much-publicized report by Stanford researchers went spelunking in virtual charters’ deepest recesses, finding that math students were so delayed, it was as if they did not attend school – at all – for an entire year.

Virtual charter experiments in other states ended in bitter, expensive lawsuits. In 2016, K12 Inc., which runs N.C. Virtual Academy, settled a lawsuit with then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris, agreeing to dispense millions in payments and debt relief over claims that they’d inflated test scores and attendance to bilk public money from the state, something they’d wholly denied.

Something else we've learned from this debacle: Republicans apparently don't understand (or refuse to) what the definition of a "Pilot" program is. It is a trial program, a testing program, to see if an idea has any merit before it is merged with other established programs into the whole. By all measurements, virtual charters have failed to meet those requirements, but that doesn't seem to matter to the rabid Choicers.

Charlotte City Council Having Regrets about RNC Convention

After Trump's "send her back" display and grossly racist tweets, the Charlotte City Council is "grabbling" with their decision to host the 2020 RNC convention.

I still say that the civil disturbances by white supremicists and Neo-Nazis, just itching for another deadly Charlottesville, combined with the huge increase in hate crimes that has been documented in every county were Trump has had a rally will offset any economic benefits to the city.

Trump and the leadership of the GOP - including Berger and Moore - learned nothing from Charlottesville and keep stoking racial and religious-based violence. The potential for civil disturbances and years of expensive city litigation about security around the event and the resulting fallout are just too great to host RNC HateFest 2020.