Original Commentary

Original Commentary

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.

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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:

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Defending Democracy Top Story Weekly Briefing

“Gerrymander” is much too polite a word for what Trump and the GOP are trying to do

For some time now, it has seemed that the widespread and growing use of the words “gerrymander” and “gerrymandering” was a good thing for our state and nation. A decade ago, these words were insider terms used only by campaign consultants and politics wonks. In recent years, however, as the public has finally started to grasp the reality of how electoral districts have come to be drawn and manipulated...

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Trump administration proposal to alter federal poverty guidelines could cause big problems for struggling North Carolinians

Federal poverty levels have been around since the 1960s and they are one of main drivers of whether a household is eligible for certain federal programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as “SNAP” and “food stamps”), Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Head Start, the National School Lunch Program, and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

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Original Commentary Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at some key facts about the state budget

The North Carolina state Senate passed its version of a new two-year budget last week and is now in negotiations with the House in anticipation of sending a final version to Gov. Cooper in the near future. The Governor will have 10 days to approve or reject the proposal. If, as expected, Cooper vetoes the bill...

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Ten reasons our families refuse to participate in NC’s End of Grade testing

The North Carolina public school end-of-year testing window is now officially open. With this season, comes dozens of hours of children sitting, practice-testing, reviewing, and re-testing. Children as young as eight years old will test for 3-4 hours with no break on consecutive days; Some students with an extended time accommodation will test even longer. This reality calls to question the efficacy and developmental appropriateness of our state’s testing practices. Prior to End Of Grade testing (EOG), classroom teachers already have plenty of indicators for each student’s proficiency in reading and math. Yet, children are tested at the end of the school year, when it’s no longer possible to correct the course.

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

Five basic truths to remember this week about the state budget

It’s one of the great and maddening ironies of the state lawmaking process in North Carolina that the single most important piece of legislation each year is perhaps the most poorly reported and one of the least well-understood. Every year, as the fiscal year winds down toward its June 30 conclusion, state lawmakers birth a new state budget bill that runs to hundreds of pages and includes all sorts of fundamental decisions about state funding priorities and tax policy...

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Original Commentary Top Story

Monday Numbers: Memorial Day 2019

Memorial Day, or Decoration Day as it was originally dubbed, began as a tribute to those killed in the Civil War, still the bloodiest conflict – by far – in U.S. history. Its annual decoration of Civil War graves grew in communities across the country, eventually evolving to commemorate all American conflicts following the grisly toll taken in World War I.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

NC is making a big mistake by failing to prepare for the next recession

We aren’t in an economic downturn yet, but economists who find themselves marveling at the historic duration of the current national expansion are urging policymakers to prepare for one now. Key to that preparation will be smart public investments that minimize the harm to communities and families and, in turn, the long-term growth trajectory of the economy.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

Gentrification: What it really means and how we must respond

Downtown Raleigh recently made the front page of the New York Times as an exemplar of gentrification – the process that dislocates traditional low-income residents, typically people of color, and changes the social fabric of a neighborhood. South Park, the historically Black Raleigh neighborhood near Shaw University...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

The General Assembly’s obsolete press rules are limiting public access to information

Just under sixteen months ago in an essay entitled “Darkness descends on the General Assembly,” I explored and lamented the shroud of secrecy that had overtaken the state legislature in recent years. Things haven’t gotten much better in 2019 and this situation hasn’t been helped – either symbolically or practically – by the decision of state Legislative Services Officer Paul Coble...

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Billy Ball Commentary Top Story

Lawmakers misfire with plan to expand NC’s ill-conceived voucher program

“Governor Cooper is failing when it comes to helping minority students. Don’t let him take away your Opportunity Scholarships,” reads the Raleigh billboard, the latest conservative spittooning of the Democratic governor. Sounds heinous, if true, but the truth is truly, extraordinarily, squishy in this instance.

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Original Commentary Top Story

Monday numbers: A closer look at the rising tide of school segregation

Last Friday was the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Brown v. Board of Education – the decision that struck down the noxious “separate but equal” concept that had undergirded America’s legally segregated public schools. Most of us are familiar with the foot-dragging and obstructionism with which that ruling has been met down through the decades...

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