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Law and the Courts Top Story

Environmental advocates, fossil fuel industry debate Atlantic Coast Pipeline at the U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Where does a trail end and the land beneath it begin? That’s just one of the thorny questions the Supreme Court grappled with Monday morning during a one-hour hearing on a U.S. Forest Service permit for the controversial Atlantic Coast Pipeline. The hearing has been hotly anticipated by both the gas and oil industry, which supports the pipeline, and the environmental advocacy community, which opposes the project.

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Education Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at disparities in school funding

It's no secret that certain school districts are better funded than others in North Carolina. But new figures released by the Public School Forum of North Carolina highlight troubling disparities in the educational investment made for students across our state’s 100 counties. The new Local School Finance Study notes an ever-widening gap between wealthier counties and those with lower levels of wealth, deepening educational inequities across districts .

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Environment Top Story

A Superfund cleanup in Jacksonville failed. Without federal funding for a fix, contamination is spreading.

Beset by budget cuts, bankruptcies, legal disputes and broken equipment, the cleanup of the ABC Cleaners property has been further delayed. ABC Cleaners, a jumble of buildings with a warped vinyl facade and an American flag above the front door, sat across the boulevard from the Camp Lejeune, in Jacksonville, for nearly 50 years. In its heyday, in the 1960s and '70s, ABC did a bustling business. Its main clientele were Marines whose uniforms —black, gold-buttoned coats, azure trousers with a scarlet stripe on the outer seam — needed cleaning and pressing.

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

ECU trustees: Speaker Tim Moore seeking chancellor’s post

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) is seeking the open chancellor’s position at East Carolina University, two members of the ECU Board of Trustees confirmed to Policy Watch this week. “He is interested, he is pursuing it and there’s a lot of conversation about it,” one of the board members said in an interview with Policy Watch.

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Education Top Story

School advocacy group: N.C. must meet Leandro requirement of “sound, basic education”

A public schools advocacy group is calling on North Carolina leaders to take “immediate and intentional action” to meet the state’s constitutional obligation to provide children with a "sound, basic education."  That was the clear message delivered Tuesday by the nonpartisan Public School Forum of North Carolina, which released its annual list of education priorities to inform state lawmakers and educators as they consider K-12 policy decisions this year. 

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

As 2020 election approaches, “fake news” goes viral in North Carolina

"Satirical" Facebook site seeks to promote Trump's re-election When Jonathan Jones saw a Facebook post about a bodybuilder befriending a man with Down syndrome, it caught his attention because it purportedly happened at the north Durham gym he frequents. “It said it came from ‘North Carolina Breaking News,'" Jones said. “And I’d never heard of that.”

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Greensboro event fuels movement to reform criminal justice fines and fees

Not everyone in North Carolina understands the implications of court fines and fees and how expenses from minor traffic violations and criminal charges can cause a person’s life to spiral out of control. The North Carolina Fines and Fees Coalition and the Aspen Institute Financial Security Program kicked off a campaign last week at Bennett College in Greensboro to change how people think about the burden court debt can pose, particularly to people who are poor.

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Environment Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the huge cuts Trump proposes for the Environmental Protection Agency

A government budget not only details a state or nation’s financial priorities, but also serves as a moral compass. It reflects the budget-writers’ vision of equity and justice, of a fiduciary duty to all residents, not merely those with political, social and economic power. In the case of Trump administration, which last week released its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021, the environmental message was clear...

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Law and the Courts Top Story

PW profile: Deputy Juvenile Justice Secretary draws from painful personal past to help kids in the system succeed

When Billy Lassiter was 12 years old, he sat in the front row of one of his seventh grade classes surrounded by about 30 students who had their sights set on picking apart their substitute teacher’s strange dialect.

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News Top Story

N.C. is home to most conservative U.S. House lawmaker, new rankings show

WASHINGTON — North Carolina is home to the nation’s most conservative member of the U.S. House, according to a recent ranking of lawmakers’ 2019 legislative records. GOP Rep. Mark Meadows of the 11th district in the western tip of the state earned a perfect score on the conservative-to-liberal scale, which was compiled by GovTrack.us, a nonpartisan organization that tracks government data and statistics.

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Education Top Story

Struggling NC charter school on ‘life support’; state officials could soon pull the plug

A troubled North Carolina charter school is essentially on “life support’ and its leaders should pull the plug, or face the prospect of state officials doing so, if it can’t remedy acute academic, financial and management ills, the Charter School Advisory Board (CSAB) advised this week.  That assessment was directed at leaders of Essie Mae Foxx Charter School in the Rowan County town of East Spencer. The school has struggled on all fronts since it opened in August 2018. 

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

NC judge scraps UNC’s controversial “Silent Sam” settlement

An Orange County Superior Court Judge effectively scrapped the UNC System’s legal settlement with the NC Sons of Confederate Veterans Wednesday, saying the group had no legal standing to sue for ownership of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument and $2.5 million for its care. Judge Allen Baddour initially signed off on the consent judgement in the case, but when the agreement was challenged by students, faculty and alumni he said he would take another look at the details of the case.

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Environment Top Story

Duke Energy says it will fully excavate coal ash from unlined ponds, but that won’t fix the legacy of contamination

Tonight is the first public meeting on historic closure plans of Duke Energy's unlined coal ash basins. The modern history of Duke Energy in North Carolina pivots on a single day: Feb. 2, 2014. On that Sunday afternoon, a pipe collapsed at the utility's coal-fired power plant in Eden...

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News Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at North Carolina’s infant mortality rates

African American babies were nearly three times as likely to die in 2018 in North Carolina than white babies. The state can do better, but to address the issue, it must know the extent of the crisis. Below are just a few of the numbers to reflect how big the problem is in this state.  

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Education Top Story

State legislative committee takes up teacher prep, but remains mostly silent on blockbuster Leandro report

Should North Carolina lawmakers explicitly address the recommendations contained in a detailed new report urging billions more in spending on public education? That's a question that seems sure to arise in the coming weeks and months, in light of that report's conclusion that the state is failing to meet its constitutional obligation to provide all North Carolina schoolchildren with the opportunity to receive a "sound, basic education." The report was prepared by the nonprofit research firm WestEd for the state Superior Court judge overseeing the landmark Leandro lawsuit.

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Higher Ed Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Trustees express concern at being “drafted” by UNC Board of Governors to support GOP state budget

Fear of political retribution drives some campus leaders to play ball, keep mum When the UNC Board of Governors weighed in on the state budget stalemate last month, it didn’t just take a side in a partisan political fight between a Democratic governor and the Republican majority in the legislature. It asked the individual boards of trustees of all 16 UNC universities and the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics to follow suit. This week a half-dozen trustees from those schools told Policy Watch they are uncomfortable wading into the partisan fight, but fear Republican legislative leaders will remove or fail to re-appoint them if they don’t follow orders.

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