Republican attack on public schools

GOP attack on teachers crosses the line

Your First Amendment rights mean nothing to the tyrants:

The majority of the crimes listed in the bill make perfect sense if the goal is – as it should be – to keep our students safe.

But the inclusion of Article 36A, which includes the act of remaining “at the scene of ... disorderly conduct by an assemblage of three or more persons, following a command to disperse,” departs from that sincere desire to protect our children. It means that individuals who have been arrested for protesting the lack of textbooks and toilet paper in North Carolina schools could be denied teaching careers, and those already teaching could potentially have their licenses revoked due to such an arrest.

Again, the stifling of school teachers is a signature trait of authoritarian/totalitarian regimes, and the fact Republicans would so casually include something like this in Legislation proves they simply do not grasp the basic concepts of democracy.

Senate wants tens of millions more for private school vouchers

The exsanguination of public school funding increases:

In their version of the budget, Senate Republicans have a plan to grow a large reserve fund for the Opportunity Scholarship Program. The scholarships, or vouchers, are given to low-income parents so they can pay to send their children to private rather than public schools.

Senators plan to increase the amount of money set aside by $10 million annually, enough to accommodate 2,000 additional students each year. By 2028, the state would be setting aside $145 million. But advocates and critics are divided on whether there’s demand for such an expansion.

Even if the demand was there, and it isn't, funneling these levels of taxpayer dollars into private schools is a mistake. And spending public revenues on religious institutions increases that mistake tenfold. We (through our elected state and local governments) have no way to monitor or regulate how those dollars are spent, what quality of education is received, or whether these children are even safe from potential predators in their midst. And this anecdotal account does not impress me one iota:

Privatization of public school facilities under "leasing" contracts

Janet Cowell cuts loose on General Assembly plotters:

Most consequentially, this legislation allows state student and teacher funding (the average daily membership) and all other state education funding to be used for school facilities, in this case to pay private developers. North Carolina has a long history of supporting state funding for teachers and education staff and county funding for school buildings. This bill would blur that division and could result in the layoff of school personnel to pay private companies.

It would allow sales taxes to go to a private, for-profit company. Specifically, the bill would permit a local unit to refund a private for profit business entity for expenses incurred in operating the building from local sales or use taxes. Sales and use taxes are an important source of local government revenue. This bill assigns away these revenues to the private entity.

This fits a broader pattern Republicans in the Legislature have developed over the last 5 years or so, in which they steadily erode the powers of local governments while also shifting costs down to them. In this case, the GOP is nudging local governments to allow private entities to actually own newly-constructed public schools, and force the local government to pay rent. It's a classic privatization scheme, but this time it's not a parking lot, it's our children's development that is being leveraged. And it's as easy as adding the two words "or other" to the statute in question:

Harsh words for the Senate's Budget proposals

It's a lot more about election season posturing than responsible funding:

That's the thing about Senate budgets: They're as much a statement of ideology as a pragmatic attempt to fund state government. In recent years, budget writers have stripped millions from the funding for books and supplies, from teacher-assistant and teacher funding, even from school-bus replacement budgets. But now Senate leaders see no problem with diverting ever-more money from the public schools to send our kids to private schools.

While we're pleased to see substantial raises proposed for those teachers still standing, it's hard to argue that our legislative leaders are fully committed to our public schools. But looking at the budget overall, we have no doubt that they're committed to getting themselves re-elected.

Every action has an equal reaction. When you cut funding for textbooks and supplies, teachers are forced to create handouts, sometimes to the tune of tens of thousands of mimeographed reproductions in each class, by the end of the school year. Which far exceeds the volume of paper allotted for in the school's budget, so guess who has to go paper-shopping? Even in schools where parents and other supporters donate such things, it's still not enough, and teachers inevitably end up holding the shopping bag. They need a raise, if for no other reason than to cover these additional costs. But that's what happens when you want it to "seem" like you're interested in funding public schools, instead of being that way.

UNC Board of Governors vows to listen, do nothing

Or at least some of them will listen:

A handful of the 32-member governing board's members will listen to up to an hour of public comments following each regular meeting, starting Friday. Speakers will be required to sign in.

"I think it would be an outlet for those people who have been protesting and want to come and have a reasoned comment for us," UNC Board of Governors Chairman Louis Bissette said in a conference call with reporters. "The session is for us to hear from the public, not to respond to demands or engage in any sort of debate. So you will see we will be in full listening mode."

Bolding mine, pretty much all you need to know. It appears logic and reasoning aren't included in Chairman Bissette's repertoire of rhetoric. If they were, he would realize "full listening mode" would require the attendance of all voting members of the Board. Being the top dog in an academic setting is hard work, especially if you'd rather be cooking up ways to entice investors into turning over their cash. Also, isn't he supposed to be skilled at dispute resolution? Apparently those are hidden skills, only to be brought out when profit$ are available.

Tough talk on failed charter schools

But will they put those words into actions?

The draft policy also calls for imposing civil penalties on individual board members when the charter fails to turn over student records to the family’s new school. A penalty of $100 could be issued for each day. The state has had issues with some charter schools turning over student records when they closed.

When PACE Academy in Carrboro was closed by the state in 2015 due to financial issues, parents were clamoring for their children’s records. Adam Levinson, interim director of the state Office of Charter Schools, said the records were only recovered when the landlord for PACE called the state asking about what to do with the abandoned documents.

Here's a radical concept: You use taxpayer funding for your operation, then you should be held accountable when you screw up. And if you're on a board (be it non-profit) that pays you a salary, the taxpayers should be able to recoup some of that money if you fail in your duties to manage the defunct charter school. All that said, the school privateers in the General Assembly will not allow much more than a rap on the knuckles for their heroes, so the state Advisory Board better find a happy medium or risk a Legislative firing squad.

Parents rolling the dice with private schools

When misplaced faith leads to horrific outcomes:

During the school day, the teacher turned to the good book for Bible studies and sometimes, in that same classroom, molested the boy, a vulnerable 13-year-old with braces on his teeth.

Much of the case is outlined in a graphic, six-page confession that Scott penned for investigators, documenting sexual abuse that took place in school, on trips and in Scott’s home. Scott, 66, has been housed for more than a decade in prison, Adonai Christian Academy closed its doors three years ago and the boy is now 27.

I find it extremely ironic that many of the bible-thumpers that support HB2 would rise up in anger if the state government decided to require background checks or other standards to protect children attending private Christian schools. It's a case of faith vs logic; faith tells them God would not allow such things to happen, but logic says sexual predators will follow the path of least resistance. They thrive in unstructured environments, or environments where the structure pays more attention to dogma than data. Even the private schools who *do* background checks often rely on other private sector entities who themselves are not subject to government oversight. But that's okay, if they know the secret handshake proper moral rhetoric to employ. And idiots like Dan Forest perpetuate this double-standard:

Bought and paid for: Rob Bryan's support for school takeovers

When evidence doesn't sway, follow the money:

Despite Tennessee’s results, Representative Rob Bryan says he still finds the idea of an ASD appealing. He says it's a way to attract more charter schools to the state’s low-income communities.

"I would like to create an environment where they [charter management organizations] are interested in coming to North Carolina, whether it’s through an ASD or partnering," Bryan said in an interview after the meeting. "But I think if you don’t get them in here and get them started you won’t have an opportunity to see what they’re able to do."

If you peruse Rep. Bryan's 2015 4th Quarter campaign report, you'll find some very interesting things. Like a check for $7,100 from Oregon's John Bryan (part of which Rob Bryan had to refund because it was over the max), a major player in charter schools NC PolicyWatch exposed five years ago:

Charter takeover of public schools moving forward in NC

Under the seemingly harmless name Achievement School Districts:

Glazer stressed that one of the biggest challenges for ASDs in Tennessee was the fact that they are neighborhood schools. Whatever population the school served before joining the ASD was the same population it served after. Largely, parents didn’t choose the school.

“These are charters that take over neighborhood schools,” he said. “That is not the way that charter schools are meant to operate.”

Despite the rosy presentation by Malika Anderson, there appears to be some serious issues involved with the funding of these takeover projects. She claims the handful of Memphis ASDs secured $100 million in donations from the private sector, but she also says the major capital improvements to the schools will come from the same place they always do, from local school district funding. And I'm assuming the state per-pupil funding will also continue. So where does the $100 million go? These issues come up starting at about the 15:00 mark of this video:

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