Archives by: Billy Ball

Billy Ball

About the author

Billy Ball, worked at NC Policy Watch from 2016 to 2020 — first as an education reporter and later as managing editor.

Billy Ball's articles and posts

Defending Democracy Original Commentary Other Voices Top Story

New voter suppression proposals echo North Carolina’s dark past

Would that North Carolina lawmakers had been so direct as “Pitchfork Ben” Tillman, a virulent white supremacist from South Carolina who, in February 1900, told his colleagues on the U.S. Senate floor that the South’s methodical disenfranchisement of African Americans was, in fact, some sort of triumph.

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Defending Democracy Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Allegations of sexism, partisanship follow local election board’s disqualification of Berger challenger

On May 25, the news headlines read that Democratic state Senate candidate Jen Mangrum had been disqualified from her bid to unseat Sen. Phil Berger, arguably the most powerful state lawmaker in North Carolina. Republicans had challenged Mangrum’s residency in Berger’s district near the Virginia line, and a panel of election officials from Berger’s Senate District 30 voted on party lines to oust Mangrum...

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Original Commentary Top Story

GOP leaders seek to poison school safety bill with partisan attack on the Affordable Care Act

The practice of loading down noncontroversial legislation with divisive and partisan provisions is an all-too-common phenomenon at the modern North Carolina General Assembly. When former North Carolina senator Angela Bryant unloaded on this year’s class-size funding ceasefire, the characteristically blunt Democrat...

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Education Top Story

Bill to allow municipal charters becomes law despite bipartisan opposition, specter of resegregation

On Wednesday, members of the N.C. House of Representatives were prepared to cast a vote on town-run charter schools with major ramifications for the future of public education, but Rep. Kelly Alexander’s mind was on the past. In the late 1950s, as Alexander explained, some North Carolinians were urging state lawmakers to pursue predominantly white sub-districts, an attempt to assuage the budding uproar over the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1954 order to desegregate public schools in Brown v. Board of Education.

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Original Commentary Top Story

Wedding cake ruling is more likely a detour than a roadblock in fight for equality

The U.S. Supreme Court, it seems, is not without a sense of cruel irony.

Surely, we can find a better way to ring in Pride Month than Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission: a decision from the nation’s high court Monday that found a Colorado commission erred...

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Education Top Story

Education budget shocker could alter the fundamentals of NC school funding

When GOP leaders in the General Assembly unveiled their privately-crafted $23.9 billion budget Monday night, the biggest surprise wasn’t its proposals for teacher pay or another round of tax cuts.

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Defending Democracy News Top Story

Democrats: Berger-Moore budget process may quash debate, amendments

When N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger addressed reporters last week, they boasted that negotiations on the state’s estimated $24 billion budget were “far ahead” of years past. According to top Democrats who spoke to Policy Watch this week, that may be because Republican lawmakers are considering a maneuver that would all but quash debate on the privately negotiated spending plan in the coming days.

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Education Top Story

Teachers demand policy changes, cheer Cooper at unprecedented education rally

On Tuesday, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger—one of the state’s most powerful Republican politicians—told North Carolina’s teachers they’d soon be receiving their fifth consecutive round of raises. Emily Rex heard Berger’s promise. But the fifth-year, special education teacher—who lives in Berger’s state Senate district in Guilford County—points out she’s received raises in four of the last five years, not that she could much tell after soaring health premiums took their toll.

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Education Top Story

Teachers, advocates: May 16th shaping up as an “historic day” for public education in NC

In the 11 years since she became a North Carolina teacher, Fayetteville’s Tamika Walker Kelly has seen more than a few changes in the state’s public schools. In 2009, she watched North Carolina, then under the control of a Democratic General Assembly and governor, push sweeping cuts and pay freezes in the midst of an economic recession. And she’s seen a new legislative majority—seized by Republicans in 2010...

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Education Top Story

DPI veterans question cost, speed, and value of latest agency audit

The longtime leaders of North Carolina’s top public school agency are questioning the depth and the cost of a newly-released organizational review that calls for a “transformation” in the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. Consultants with Ernst & Young conducted the agency review over a period of 12 weeks this year, after state Superintendent Mark Johnson asked for and received a $1 million budget allocation from state legislators last year to audit DPI.

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