Republican attack on public education

NC Pre-K floundering: Time for Leandro III lawsuit

Where's the bond to strengthen our human infrastructure?

That’s of concern. But what’s even more concerning is that, as of last month, there’s a waiting list, 500 or 600 deep in Forsyth County alone, of parents who want their children to be in Head Start or N.C. Pre-K, and it can’t go unsaid that the reason they’re not enrolled is the cuts to these programs enacted by the state legislature.

Here are children who want to learn, and parents who want their children to learn. Here’s a state that is traditionally dedicated to quality education for all. And here’s a state legislature that’s more interested in giving raises to UNC chancellors than providing preschool for 4-year-olds in working families. These priorities are skewed.

Their priorities are skewed, and as they've proven numerous times in the past, the GOP leadership will not follow the law unless and until a court decision requires them to. Republicans have made several legal arguments over the last few years in an effort to abandon these children, but the core requirements of Leandro are still in place:

Outrage, pushback on UNC System Chancellor raises

Golden parachutes will be handed out as soon as the hydraulics begin to fail:

At Appalachian State University on Tuesday, protesters asked Chancellor Sheri Everts to give up her 17.5 percent increase, which boosts her annual pay to $335,000. The same day, the East Carolina University Faculty Senate passed a resolution expressing “disapproval of the taxpayer-funded pay raises for top management at a time of stagnant taxpayer-funded wages for the rank-and-file who are major contributors to the work of the university.”

On Friday, the UNC board, in a closed-session vote, gave raises to 12 of 17 UNC system chancellors, ranging from 8 percent to 19 percent. In the recently passed state budget, university employees and faculty got $750 one-time bonuses but no salary increase.

Just an observation without commentary, lest I be accused of playing the Race Card: Of the five Chancellors who did *not* receive a raise Friday, three (3) were African-American, one was a Latino, and one was a Lumbee.

A swing and a miss in defense of Spellings' appointment

How to lose an argument before it even starts:

As a former journalism teacher and newspaper reporter, I understand why the media are adamant that searches be conducted in the open. I respectfully disagree. I commend Chairman John Fennebresque and the search committee for its outstanding work as they spent hundreds of hours in reviewing qualified applicants from around the world and in interviewing and seriously considering more than a dozen candidates.

To have involved all 32 members of the UNC Board of Governors, faculty, staff and students would have indeed created a circus atmosphere. Thank goodness the majority on the Board of Governors did not succumb to the pressure to open the process.

And just exactly who were those "more than a dozen candidates" of which you speak? And what were the criteria used in that "hundreds of hours in reviewing" you claim took place? The truth is, you don't know if any of that is accurate, you're just regurgitating happy talk from press releases. A journalism teacher? What the hell did you teach them, the fewer the questions the better? Write about what you *don't* know?

Christensen on Spellings: "Nothing to see here, folks."

Another round of false equivalencies and historic rationalizations:

But if you look at the backgrounds of past UNC presidents, you will find they are diverse lot – businessmen and college administrators, liberals and conservatives. None have had a Ph.D. Several have been deeply involved in politics. Few had any classroom teaching experience.

When the UNC Board of Governors or their predecessors have searched for a new president, they have not looked for one particular model. Undoubtedly some of the skepticism about Spellings is political. Much of the left feels about George W. Bush about the way the right feels about Barack Obama. Anybody closely associated with either man is immediately suspect by those who hold opposing views.

Once again, Rob puts forward the theory that public opinion is based mostly on a "shallow" analysis of a person or policy, and if only we had his vast experience keeping score in the political arena we could grasp the truths that elude us. And once again, he fails to mention the most damning characteristics of the subject in question: Her history of leading the largest and most disreputable conglomeration of for-profit online universities in the country, which have bilked students and parents out of billions in tuition over the years, and her openly bigoted stance dealing with LGBT rights. Both of those characteristics set her widely apart from previous Presidents of the UNC System, and both should have been dis-qualifiers for the job. Once again, Rob, politics is not a sport, where you compare earned run averages or free-throw percentages. It has a real-world impact on the lives of the people of our state, and Margaret Spellings has the potential to do great harm to the tens of thousands trying to reach their potential via the UNC System. They are the ones who need to be given a chance, not her.

Art Pope's continuing attempts to manipulate UNC's curriculum

And he's not above deploying a trouble-making college student to get what he wants:

Alec Dent, an incoming freshman at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, made headlines recently for an article he wrote for the conservative website The College Fix in which he claimed the school was offering a seminar titled "The Literature of 9/11" that "sympathizes with terrorists" and "paints [the] U.S. as imperialistic." Dent apparently did not take the course or read the books but appears to have based his opinion on Amazon book descriptions for a limited selection of its readings.

The younger Dent penned a blog post for the Pope Center back in July titled "Freshman orientation: conform or be cast out" about an interactive theater experience that addressed diversity and inclusivity. He describes the skit's topics – racism, sexism, heterosexism, and classism – as "cardinal sin(s) of the liberal perspective" and takes a potshot at affirmative action while portraying white men as victims.

Pope's obsession with steering more courses (and maybe even an entire school) to the admiration and perhaps glorification of Western Civilization is nothing more than White Supremacy, albeit with a scholarly and intellectual flavoring. The truth is, Western Europe was rather late to the civilization game, and its respect for the arts and sciences could never compete with its bloodlust and unquenchable thirst for hegemony. And it appears Pope and many of his GOP buddies are still stricken with the horrific lack of vision that plagued their medieval heroes.

Message traffic related to Tom Ross dismissal

"You have four hundred twenty seven messages waiting for your attention":

UNC alumna and parent, Maureen Anne Costello Dwyer, to board members, Jan. 26: “On our family’s behalf, I am writing to express our extreme concern and confusion regarding the UNC Board of Governor’s recent actions regarding UNC President Tom Ross. As supporters of UNC and taxpayers in NC, we feel we, and everyone else in this state, deserves to know more specifically the reasons for the Board’s decision. Given the extremely limited and evasive information provided by Mr. Fennebresque in the news conference, it is incredibly difficult not to conclude that it is due primarily to politics and party affiliations.”

UNC supporter Patrick Walters to Fennebresque, Feb. 20: “I’m concerned (as are many others) about the abrupt dismissal of Tom Ross. From all indications he was doing a great job. Can you please explain in plain, simple, and honest terms why he was dismissed? If it’s because of differences in political ideology, then please just tell us.”

While Fennebresque freely admits there were more messages opposing the firing of Tom Ross, it's evident that many well-heeled Conservatives view it as an opportunity to reshape the ideology of the UNC System:

The fallacy of cutting teacher assistants in K-3

Sliding back into mediocrity:

It is instructive to understand how teacher assistants came about in the first place. The position was first created and funded by the state as part of the 1975 Primary Reading Program. The goal of the program was to improve literacy among children in early grades. My mother was among the first group of teacher assistants hired in the state.

Significantly improved student achievement scores followed. It makes sense – adding another instructor immediately cut the ratio of student-to-educator in half, which gave more time for individualized attention to struggling students.

That student-to-educator ratio is the key, not only to better learning outcomes, but to basic issues dealing with health and safety, too. For the last couple of hours, I've been perusing child-to-caregiver ratios from various states for the licensing of day cares, and the ratio for children aged 6-12 varies between 1:15 and 1:19 or so. When you increase the ratio beyond these levels, significant safety issues emerge, even with children in the upper age range. If you don't believe that, volunteer as a chaperone on a school field trip for 2nd or 3rd graders. I dare you.

With Cope gone, SEANC wakes from its slumber

Only to find itself in an anti-government nightmare:

Buried deep in the Senate budget proposal that lawmakers passed last week is a provision that would eliminate state-paid health retirement benefits for teachers and state employees who are hired after January 1, 2016. “This puts the state at a major disadvantage in the recruitment and retention of state employees, teachers, and university faculty compared to other states,” said Chuck Stone, director of operations for the State Employees Association of NC (SEANC), of the Senate’s push to jettison the health retirement benefit.

Dana Cope always prided himself on knowing what Legislators were planning to do, and working his little back-room deals that (supposedly) benefited his members. But aside from throwing NCAE under the bus over the paycheck dues issue, the rest appears to have been smoke and mirrors:

The GOP's targeting of UNC System institutes and centers

Ideology hiding under the cloak of efficiency:

Supporters of the review say the process is a responsible and long-overdue look at how universities spend state money.

Critics charge the Board of Governors, now dominated by Republican appointees, with political bias. The UNC centers on the Board of Governors’ short list include ones that advocate for civil rights, women’s issues and the Cherokee people. One center is named for former Gov. Jim Hunt, a Democrat. Another, a poverty center, is led by Gene Nichol, a UNC-Chapel Hill law professor whose public comments about state government have angered conservatives.

Typical behavior of a tyrannical regime cementing its rule. Get rid of college professors and the research they were working on, especially if that research could/would demonstrate the negative effects of your policy approaches. And for Art Pope and his minions, it has the added benefit of clearing the field so their propaganda will get more exposure and less criticism.

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