Wednesday, April 10, 2013 - 9:16pm

What are the best educational systems doing? A 2011 study by a consortium of educators in Europe, the U.S., and Asia identified the top performers,the top five nations in Europe whose culture is closest to our own.

1. Finland
2. Germany
3. Austria
4. Sweden
5. Switzerland

The five are joined by S.Korea, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore,and Canada in the top 10. The U.S. is 19.

Common elements of the top rated:

  1. Equitable funding for all schools set by national standards
  2. National, stable curriculum standards mixing subject mastery and learning skills with creative/independent thinking in flexible school day structures.
  3. Individualized instruction/learning using the most up to date computer tutoring, record keeping,communication between teacher/student/home,with teachers as coaches,educational plan creators, and evaluators/assessors.
Thursday, March 28, 2013 - 1:28pm

In 1996 NC passed HB 955, also known as the Charter School Act. In January 2011 the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools ranked NC 32nd out of 41 states with charter school laws with poor marks in accountability, equity of funding, and the low cap of 100 schools for the state.

The NAPCS is billed as a non-profit headed by former Bush administration official Nina Rees, the reality is that it is a powerful, well connected lobbying group with deep pockets and wealthy benefactors, which isn't unusual. What is unusual is the amount of success it's had influencing the decisions of NC GOP legislators and the banquet of taxpayer dollars they've established for hedge fund managers, Wall St. banks, big banks, and wealthy investors to gorge upon.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 - 1:15pm

In last Friday's Charlotte Observer, Republican Rep. and ALEC Task force member Ruth Samuelson said, "There's a natural sense of urgency," in regards to a new tax plan to fund a new stadium for the Panthers. And by that she means one of her largest donors is calling his marker.

Saturday, March 23, 2013 - 4:06pm

Conservatives, especially the true believers that now populate the NC General Assembly, are fond of quoting Adam Smith, the 18th century Scottish moral philosopher and political economist. They love the quotes, but the content escapes them.

Smith wrote in "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations",
"People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices." Smith went on to observe, "But though the law cannot hinder people of the same trade from sometimes assembling together, it ought to do nothing to facilitate such assemblies, much less render them necessary."

Every time one of our Republican legislators goes to an ALEC seminar or meets behind closed doors with ALEC representatives to write laws, they are conspiring against the public ... and corporations are always the direct beneficiaries.

Sunday, March 17, 2013 - 1:03pm

The ALEC inspired assault on public education continued in earnest last week. On March 12th Guilford County Teabagger darling and ultra-con Sen. Trudy Wade introduced SB 317, a bill that would redraw school districts along party lines, reduce terms from two to four years, inject political partisanship where it's unwanted,and make it easier for conservatives to take over and control local school boards.

When asked what he thought of the bill by the News and Record, High Point realtor and school board member Ed Price, who is a friend of mine, responded, "Don't they have better things to do down there." Indeed they do Ed, unemployment is 9.6% and rising, but addressing it doesn't fit the agenda in Wingnut Land.

Monday, March 11, 2013 - 3:16pm

I don't know what the hell is in the water down in Cabarrus County, but apparently it makes folks vote for people who are corrupt(Fletcher Hartsell), or just bat shit crazy, GOP Rep. and misogynistic minister Larry Pittman.

This week Larry introduced legislation aimed at the nullification crowd, those who believe they can ignore federal laws completely if the law doesn't fit their agenda. HB 246, the "Gun Rights Amendment", will allow people with a valid conceal carry permit to tote their piece wherever they feel threatened.

Thursday, March 7, 2013 - 12:13pm

Wikipedia defines exceptionalism as," The perception that a country,society, institution,movement, or time period is "exceptional"(i.e. unusual or extraordinary)in some way and thus does not need to conform to normal rules or general principles."

The state's GOP leadership have decided that their exceptionalism allows them to abandon the ethic of responsibility, thinking, and behavior that historically defined the rules of good governance.

The "exceptionalism" of the NC GOP has been on display for several weeks, most recently yesterday, when the coward Pat McCrory signed legislation behind closed doors rejecting the expansion of Medicaid that would help 500,000 NC ctizens.

DAG McCrory
Sunday, March 3, 2013 - 6:16pm

My NC GOP sociopath of the week is none other than Cabarrus County's own Fletcher Hartsell. Mr. K-12 Inc. himself.

If acting as a paid lobbyist for K-12 Inc. while actively serving in the NC Senate wasn't enough of a conflict of interest, apparently Fletcher and his equally slimy brother Thomas enjoy tag teaming and fleecing the elderly in their spare time.

A recent News and Observer article outlined a bit of a sticky wicket Fletcher has found himself in. It's one thing to use $100,000 in campaign contributions to pay off your personal credit cards, but it's absolutely reprehensible to use the multi-million dollar estate of elderly Alzheimer victims as your personal feeding trough.

This is why Hartsell gets my nod for NC GOP sociopath of the week.

Friday, March 1, 2013 - 7:16am

A new report from the Institute on Taxation Policy shoots holes through DAG McCrory's desire to abolish the state's income tax as a means to boost the states economy.

The report found that the nine states that currently do not have income tax grew 37% slower per capita than states with high state income taxes.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 2:11pm

On Monday a three judge panel convened here in the Triad to decide whether the new gerrymandered redistricting maps drawn by Art Pope are legal under Section 5 of the 1965 Voting Rights Act.

The Republican State Leadership Committee pumped tens of millions of dollars into the RSLC's Redistricting Map Project (REDMAP), with great success. The agressive gerrymandering project allowed the GOP to control the House, while garnering fewer overall votes.

This should be of particular interest to those of us who reside in NC, where millions of dollars in GOP dark money, money funneled from shady non-profits set up by people like Karl Rove, Sheldon Adelson, and the Koch brothers, tobacco giants Altria,Reynolds and into the grubby little hands of Art Pope and his Real Jobs NC.

1965 VRA