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Law and the Courts Top Story

U.S. Supreme Court to revisit challenge to NC’s “monster” voting law Friday

Conference comes a day after new report lauds benefits of same-day registration

The new line-up for the U.S. Supreme Court will meet tomorrow to decide what’s next for the constitutional challenge to North Carolina’s controversial voting rights law.

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Education Top Story

Local school districts prepare for “enormous disruptions” as Senate refuses to ease class size requirements

North Carolina’s largest public school system may be warning of “enormous disruptions” without speedy action from state lawmakers on a looming class size funding crisis, but key education leaders in Raleigh tell Policy Watch there’s little sign Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly will act soon.

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Policy Watch Investigates

Elections watchdog calls for criminal investigation of NCGOP over baseless voter fraud claims

Carol Turner hadn’t lived in North Carolina long before last November’s election. A retired nurse, she had recently moved from Maryland with her son Mark, a Naval officer, and his wife to help take care of their baby.

But Turner had done everything necessary to vote here in the general election.

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Must Reads News

Class-size chaos

Controversy over class-size requirements in early grades has emerged as the biggest issue facing North Carolina’s public schools in the 2017 legislative session. Current law requires school districts (also known as local education agencies, or LEAs) to reduce class sizes in grades K-3 in the upcoming 2017-18 school year. However, the General Assembly has failed to provide the funding necessary to allow districts to meet the class size goals. Absent General Assembly action, districts are scrambling to meet the requirements by initiating layoffs and eliminating enhancement teaching positions in subjects like art, physical education, and music.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

Full speed ahead: GOP lawmakers plow ahead with plans to remake the state court system

It’s starting to look like “court-packing” may not be as dead in the water as some Republican lawmakers said it was in December.

The General Assembly passed House Bill 239 this week, which would reduce the Court of Appeals from 15 judges to 12 and add more than 100 cases per year to the state Supreme Court’s workload. Gov. Roy Cooper plans to veto the legislation.

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Education Top Story

Competing bills would alter method for funding charter schools

For the better part of a decade, charter and traditional school advocates have bickered over charters’ share of North Carolina dollars.

But two bills drafted by influential state Senate leaders in recent days want to settle the issue this session. One, Senate Bill 562, has the blessing of public school advocates; the other, not so much.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Local officials breathe sigh of relief as federal court strikes down legislature’s Greensboro redistricting plan

When a federal judge ruled last week against a state law that reconfigured and redistricted the Greensboro City Council, it was celebrated in the Gate City. But the larger implications of the ruling weren’t widely discussed.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

What does subdividing court districts have to do with voters? Everything.

With the exception of authoring formal opinions and issuing court rulings, it’s not often that judges step into the spotlight to make their voices heard.

Judges work for an independent branch of government and must remain neutral to keep the public’s trust. They take an oath to be impartial and deliver equal justice for all.

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Environment Top Story

DEQ Secretary Regan sails through Senate confirmation hearing

Today’s Senate committee hearing for NC DEQ Secretary Michael Regan felt like a softball game, and not even fast-pitch. Instead, lawmakers tossed questions at the nominee — some that Regan had seen in advance — which were ready for him to hit.

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Education

School officials preparing to fire thousands of specialty teachers in order to meet K-3 classroom mandate

For Linda Welborn, the impending crisis over North Carolina classroom size cannot be overstated.

Welborn, a Republican member of the Guilford County Board of Education, says her district—the third largest in the state—will need to find an additional $16.6 million and 242 new teaching positions to meet the state’s legislative mandate to cut class sizes for kindergarten through third grade beginning next school year.

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Environment Top Story

Duke researchers warn of methane’s dangers, while the university presses for a new natural gas plant

The scientists who work on climate issues at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University belong to an esteemed crowd. Their studies on the environmental, economic and public health perils of fracked natural gas have been featured in major peer-reviewed journals. Their findings on the role of methane leaks from natural gas in harming human health and driving climate change have earned the school scientific renown.

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Education Top Story

New data highlight troubling racial disparities in Wake County school discipline

Nearly 70 percent of law enforcement referrals made in Wake County schools over the last two years involved African American students.

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Education

Serious questions arise for state’s largest voucher school

Embezzlement trial, incomplete financial statements cloud future of school that has received $1.2M in state funds

North Carolina’s largest recipient of private school vouchers has filed a financial review that lacked basic information consistent with “generally accepted accounting principles,” according to the agency overseeing the taxpayer-funded program.

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Law and the Courts Top Story

High Court ruling raises the bar, ensuring disabled students receive a meaningful education

The U.S. Supreme Court delivered a ruling last week that will empower parents of disabled students to make sure their children are getting a meaningful education and hold public schools accountable if not.

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Education Featured Articles

Q & A with the new head of NC’s controversial Achievement School District

Eric Hall says he has education in his blood.

The soon-to-be superintendent of North Carolina’s controversial achievement school district says both of his parents were educators. His wife, meanwhile, is a public school social worker.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

One year in, LGBT lawmakers address HB2

Thursday marks one year since HB2 was signed into law, setting off a firestorm of controversy that led to statewide boycotts, mass protests and contributed to the downfall of the governor who supported it.

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