Sen. Phil Berger

Cronyism and nepotism driving the charter school bus

The invisible hand picking the public's pocket:

But here’s another happy charter story. The president pro tem of the State Senate is Phil Berger Sr., who is responsible for legislation authorizing charters, vouchers, and the virulent anti-teacher legislation that is causing many veteran teachers to leave the state. You might call him North Carolina’s one-man wrecking crew of public education, except he has plenty of helpers in the legislature.

So who do you think is opening charters and getting in on the ground floor of the biggest new education industry opportunity in North Carolina? Phil Berger, Jr. No conflict there. Daddy passes the law, and junior cashes in.

But they don't see a conflict, because "ethics" is not in their dictionary. And of course the propaganda mill known as the John Locke Foundation is neck-deep in this story:

Berger's cold-blooded approach to Medicaid

Putting the health and safety of NC citizens at risk:

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger told WRAL-TV that any budget deal must not only include the Senate’s estimates of Medicaid costs but must also reduce the number of people who are covered by the program. Berger said the Senate wanted “reductions in the welfare spending that is ongoing at the present time.” Medicaid, the health care safety net for the most vulnerable people in North Carolina, is now welfare in Berger’s far-right view of the world.

The budget the Senate passed earlier this session would kick at least 5,200 aged, blind and disabled people off of Medicaid. More than 1,600 of them have Alzheimer’s or dementia and are in special care units, which to Berger must be a new fancy way of saying welfare.

Bolding mine. As the rollout of the ACA has shown, our current level of engagement in Medicaid is going to cost lives for the 500,000 or so folks who fall into the donut hole with no coverage. What Berger is trying to do will amp that number up significantly, costing even more lives. He's been out of control for some time, but now he's endangering people. Taking back the Senate is not just a political goal for the Democratic Party, it's a moral imperative.

Berger tries (and fails) to justify his tenure blackmail scheme

Not much of a salesman, frankly:

Building on feedback from educators, the Senate proposal would repeal the law that automatically eliminates tenure in 2018 and instead offer teachers a choice. Teachers who decide to work on annual contracts would move to the new pay scale and receive the substantial salary increase. Those who decide they value tenure more would remain on the current pay schedule.

Now, some liberal special interests and columnists demagogue and diminish the opportunity for teachers to receive a generous 11 percent raise in exchange for signing an annual contract. But bear in mind that most North Carolinians - save for a few rare cases like professional athletes, celebrities and CEOs - work "at will" with no problem.

You really are one arrogant son of a bitch, aren't you? To be clear, the imbalance of power between employee and employer in NC is nothing to brag about. That most people can be terminated without cause, many kept from receiving a decent severance, and in some cases denied their rightful unemployment benefits, is shameful and hearkens back to the late 19th Century before the labor movement. In other words, a Republican paradise. And the longer we let Phil Berger run the show, the farther back in time we will travel.

Guilford School Board to sue state over law abolishing teacher tenure

The Greensboro News and Record has the details.

The school board voted unanimously Tuesday to challenge the law and ask for relief from laws requiring it to offer contracts to certain teachers in exchange for their tenure. Board members said the law is unconstitutional, and its wording unclear. The board said the law “represents yet another thinly veiled attack on public education and educators.”

Phil Berger sent a letter to the Board earlier in the day, saying their action ignoring part of the law was "illegal".

The Board's attorney argues that the law changes teacher salary and status without due process.

Is there a significant law passed by this Tea Bagger legislature that isn't getting challenged in court?

Republicans continue to spin teacher walk-in

Trying to use it as a weapon against Roy Cooper:

Both lawmakers called on state Attorney General Roy Cooper to investigate the situation. “Schools have a duty to educate and protect our children, not serve as marching grounds for political protests orchestrated by unions,” Berger and Hunt said in a joint statement Wednesday. “We are deeply disturbed the NCAE is encouraging teachers to turn their backs on their classrooms and leave their students in the care of strangers who may lack formal training and background checks.”

“If the Senate was so concerned about students they wouldn’t have drastically shortchanged our public schools,” Cooper said in a written statement. “I can understand why teachers are beyond frustrated, but I don’t think they should leave the classroom.”

When I read that tripe from Berger and Hunt I almost fell over in my chair. But I will let one of the commenters on this article explain why:

ProgressNC runs ad against Berger for appointing Card

Which may be the only way to fully inform his constituents of his shenanigans:

ProgressNC wants you to encourage Berger to withdraw Card's appointment to the UNC-TV board because of the Hitler comparison. Card's words on the topic are quoted accurately in the ad. They were excerpted from a long essay in which Card imagined a world where Obama has become dictator. I read the entire essay back in May and scanned it again this week. (I saved a copy of the Rhino. Sorry, I can't link to Card's essay; it disappeared when the Rhino folded and its website went dark.) Card presents a thought exercise, of interest if you like Card and dislike Obama, but also way long, as long as a chapter or two in one of Card's books.

I'll let you and others decide whether the Hitler comparisons should disqualify Card from the board.

The fact that Card's appointment will allow him to exert influence over the state's public television programming rises to the level that you (and your editorial staff) can't just stand on the sidelines, Jeff. It's wrong, you know it's wrong, and you need to say it's wrong. Taking that principled stand will definitely tick off former Rhino readers you've been hoping to attract, but it might bring some others back who have become disgusted with the N&R. And it's the right thing to do.

Is Berger hinting at U.S. Senate bid?

2014 Republican Primary

By Reid Wilson, Published: September 6 Washington Post

North Carolina Senate President Phil Berger (R) is coming off a legislative session that cemented him as one of the dominant forces in state politics, if not the only one. But he’s hinting he might have a grander stage in mind.

Berger’s campaign will launch a statewide advertisement next week touting an election reform bill that earned conservative praise and liberal outrage after the legislature passed it earlier this year. The ad, which Berger aides said they would spend more than $100,000 to air, will run in the Greensboro media market...

DAG McCrory and the Bergermeister at odds over Veto overrides

Serious conflict or Kabuki theater?

"All governors, without regard to party, swear an oath to uphold the Constitution," Berger said. "We expect Gov. McCrory to perform his constitutional duty to enforce the law."

McCrory said he would not enforce the new law requiring drug testing of some welfare recipients until the legislature finds the money to pay for it. And he said there would be additional legal scrutiny of the new law making it easier to hire immigrant employees.

At first glance this might appear to be nothing more than a minor tiff between power-hungry Republicans. But there could be some deeper roots, related to some previous power struggles in the NC GOP.

The truth about NC's education spending

Lining the pockets of the wealthy at the expense of teachers:

Senate leader Phil Berger, an Eden Republican, said teacher raises weren’t possible because the legislature had to commit an additional $1.5 billion over two years to pay for Medicaid. But Berger also backed major tax cuts signed by the governor that will cost the state $500 million over the first two years and more than $2 billion in lost tax revenue over the next five years.

The truthful answer isn’t that North Carolina couldn’t afford to give money. It just couldn’t afford to give it to teachers.

Not only does a big chunk of that money go into the pockets of a handful of already wealthy scions like Art Pope (Estate Tax), a lot of the others won't have a skin in the education game:

Dueling editorials on the GOP's education policies

Fact and propaganda are the weapons of choice:

With close to the lowest pay in the nation, no money for advanced degrees and 75 percent of teachers operating with less than two years of job security, why would they remain in the profession? Again, the question begs to be asked, do we value the profession of teaching? What is the message we are sending to our teachers, including those who might consider moving here?

It's not just the teachers being disregarded, it's the bulk of the information they are trying to impart on their students. From history to science, and all points in between, that information doesn't fit the narrative that Republicans want people to work from. And a well-educated populace is far less likely to swallow the propaganda they throw out:

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