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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.

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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.

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Environment Top Story

After contamination found in groundwater, DEQ orders full investigation of Chatham County coal ash site

Groundwater near a coal ash repository in Chatham County has again tested high for contaminants, prompting state environmental officials to require a full assessment of the site. A former clay mine, Brickhaven lies four miles southeast of Moncure near the Lee County line.

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Environment News Top Story

Monday numbers: Climate change likely to cost NC $34.8 billion – and that’s just for seawalls

In 2016, Hurricane Florence moved so slowly – more like a mosey, instead of a sprint – that it emptied trillions of gallons of rain over the same places for hours, even days. "At times I could have outrun" the storm, said scientist  Jessica Whitehead, chief resilience officer for the state's Office of Resilience and Recovery, at a climate change summit in Havelock earlier this month.

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Environment Top Story

Lawsuit challenges constitutionality of NC laws protecting hog industry from nuisance actions

State lawmakers allegedly violated the North Carolina constitution when they passed legislation that stripped residents of their right to sue industrialized hog operations for nuisance, according to a legal complaint filed this week. 

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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, ...
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Law and the Courts Top Story

Sheriffs and lawmakers clash as immigration bill passes Senate panel

Don’t call them urban sheriffs. Don’t refer to them as sanctuary sheriffs. And don’t identify them as super minority-majority sheriffs.

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Higher Ed Top Story

In a tense political climate, UNC students reporting mental health struggles

Tamia Sanders’ voice trembled as she looked out on a large rally crowd from the steps of UNC-Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library in April. She was there to talk about the ongoing opposition to the return of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument and the mistreatment of student activists by the campus police.

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News Top Story

North Carolina Dems back U.S. House effort to study reparations

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. House is slated to hold a hearing Wednesday on legislation that would establish a commission to consider reparations for the descendants of slaves. Two North Carolina Democrats -- Reps. G.K. Butterfield (1st) and Alma Adams (12th) -- are among the bill’s 57 co-sponsors.

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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...

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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.

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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.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Monday numbers: In Pride Month, a closer look at LGBTQ mental health

June is Pride Month – a time to celebrate of LGBTQ equality and remember the origins of the ongoing struggle for it. This year it is being declared and celebrated in North Carolina from the capital to our smaller towns. But it is worth remembering: while today’s LGBTQ youth live in a world much more accepting than the one that sparked the Stonewall riot, many are still struggling.

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Environment Top Story

PW exclusive: Moore County locates new elementary school near pollution, hazardous waste sites in Aberdeen

Racial, economic composition of school contributes to environmental justice concerns On the edge of Aberdeen lay a lovely tract of land that was easy to miss while speeding down Highway 5. Stippled with young to middle-aged pine trees, it historically had been used for timbering, but now the landowner, BVM Properties, was ready to sell.

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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.

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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.

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