Original Commentary

Original Commentary

Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Amid the budget showmanship, North Carolina’s budget will surely suffer

North Carolina’s legislative leaders have finally – in one big, bursting feat of Houdini-like showmanship – liberated themselves from truth and context. Their mastery of the mummers play was a revelation Tuesday, in their ruefully insincere keening that we, at this late budgetary hour, have arrived without input from Gov. Roy Cooper –

...
Read more 0
Progressive Voices Top Story

After outcry, Superintendent Mark Johnson tries to put a lid on reading program controversy

Last week I published a blog post detailing how NC Superintendent Mark Johnson ignored the recommendation of a committee of educators and made the unilateral decision to award the contract for a K-3 reading screener to a company called Istation. According former DPI employee Amy Jablonski, who headed the evaluation committee, Johnson’s selection of Istation disregarded the Request for Purchase (RFP) evaluation team’s advice that North Carolina schools should continue using the mClass screener which has been in place since 2013.  The change means moving from a model in which children read one-on-one with their teacher to one where their interaction is with a computer.

...
Read more 0
Top Story Weekly Briefing

Trump-inspired anti-immigrant bill poses a grave threat to crime victims and public safety

It’s back…and, tragically, worse than ever. After fading from view back in April upon winning approval by the state House of Representatives, a Trump Administration-inspired bill to force North Carolina sheriffs to become accessories to federal immigration enforcement operations is moving quickly and could be on Gov. Cooper’s desk later this week.

...
Read more 0
Billy Ball Commentary Original Commentary Top Story

Dear North Carolina lawmakers, can the budget theatrics

There’s a scene in “The West Wing” – liberals’ sweaty, Emmy-hording ode to progressivism – in which President Bartlett, facing a budget bait-and-switch from his erstwhile Republican nemeses, shuts down the government. Bartlett – a hopelessly fictional hero, ...
Read more 0
Progressive Voices Top Story

How N.C. lawmakers spin local teacher supplements to pad teacher pay

This simple graphic is proudly shown on the Sen. Phil Berger-enabled propaganda website www.ncteacherraise.com. There are a lot of “spun” numbers and claims on this website that are easily debunked with more context and clarity. That figure as it stands...

...
Read more 0
Top Story Weekly Briefing

Budget advice for NC progressives: “Yes” to negotiation, “hell no” to surrender

It’s crunch time in Raleigh. The end of the state fiscal year is just 12 days away and Republican legislative leaders have been secreted away, putting the final touches on a state budget bill that they will likely deign to share with Democratic members and the public sometime in this week.    As is always the case, the arrival of this moment is spurring all manner of fretting, speculation and bluster from people in and around the state policy world.

...
Read more 0
Progressive Voices Top Story

How North Carolina budget proposals undercut “Raise the Age” reforms

North Carolina was the last state in the U.S. to end the automatic prosecution of juveniles of 16 or older as adults when in 2017 the NC General Assembly passed the Juvenile Justice Reinvestment Act (JJRA). As a result, 16 and 17 year olds charged with non-violent crimes on or after December 1, 2019 will be considered to be under the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system, pursuant only to specific exceptions.

...
Read more 0
Billy Ball Commentary Defending Democracy Top Story

The case of the vanishing budget: How N.C.’s secretive budget “process” is bad for the public good

If, in this precise moment, you’re wondering where North Carolina’s multi-billion dollar budget is, the same one that sets crucial policy and spending parameters for state agencies, that dictates classroom funding levels for 1.5 million schoolchildren, that sets pay levels for thousands of state employees, retirees and teachers, it’s in the same place it’s always been.

...
Read more 0
Progressive Voices Top Story

State budget negotiators can and should choose a better path

The recent proposal from state Senate leaders for the next two-year state budget compromises North Carolina’s future by underinvesting in our communities while prioritizing the special interests of a select few. As House and Senate leaders confer on the final budget, let’s be clear that a different path — one that involves smart investments and better outcomes — is possible.

...
Read more 0
Progressive Voices Top Story

Nine ways in which “school choice” and its overzealous backers are harmful to NC public schools

At a recent Civitas Institute panel discussion, former state senator Joel Ford lamented that – because he supports charter schools – he gets labeled as “anti-public school.” Ford, now a board member of school choice propaganda mill Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina (PEFNC), appeared confused as to why critics throw that label at him.

...
Read more 0
Top Story Weekly Briefing

Refusal to close the Medicaid coverage gap echoes a dark era from the South’s past

In his recent “must read” book on the history of Jim Crow and how it shaped (and was itself shaped) by a typical town of the deep South (“Hattiesburg: An American City in Black and White,” Harvard University Press), UNC Chapel Hill historian Prof. William Sturkey provides numerous illuminating and, often, maddening details of the harsh realities of the racial apartheid that was conjured up and enforced by the white supremacists who dominated so much of southern society for so long.

...
Read more 0
Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

A eulogy: For the abortion bill whose supporters dared not speak its name

Sometime in the latter hours of debate over an abortion bill that North Carolina Republicans insisted was not about abortion – even as the words “abortion” and “abortion victims” were uttered some fourteen-thousand times Wednesday – Speaker Tim Moore descended from his perch at the forefront of the state House chamber to debate.

...
Read more 0
Progressive Voices Top Story

Proposed state budget would deal new blows to the First Amendment’s Establishment Clause

In 1971, U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger wrote an opinion in the landmark case Lemon v. Kurtzman that set forth a the three-pronged test lawmakers should use to avoid violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, which states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” The three prongs of the test were these:

...
Read more 0

Send this to a friend