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Opinion roundup: A sort-of class size fix and more, some fair elections, enough school nurses and more

Posted February 9, 2018 8:23 a.m. EST
Updated February 9, 2018 8:24 a.m. EST

Classroom generic

Friday, Feb. 9, 2018 -- Fixing school class size while creating problems elsewhere, some fair elections, not enough school nurses and are zip-lines safe?


TRAVIS FAIN: Republicans blast Cooper aide over pipeline 'slush fund' (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Legislators grill newest Cooper hire over $57.8 million tied to Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, now plan to send the money to rural schools.

KRIS NORDSTROM: Class-size “fix” is a mixed bag (N.C. Policy Watch analysis) -- The General Assembly has finally revealed its plan for addressing the unfunded class-size mandate. The proposed solution is a significant improvement over the status quo, but doesn’t appear to fully address the concerns of public school districts. Additionally, the bill has been paired with several non-education provisions related to the use of Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) mitigation funds and the composition of the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

LAURA LESLIE & MATTHEW BURNS: Lawmakers to delay, phase in class-size caps (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Republican legislative leaders announced they've reached an agreement on a fix to problems created by capping class sizes in early grades, but they've attached it to provisions Democrats are calling a poison pill.

GARY ROBERTSON: Bill fixing North Carolina's class-size challenge loaded up (AP news analysis) -- North Carolina Republicans offered wide-ranging legislation Thursday that fixes anticipated class-size challenges in the public schools next fall, but includes other provisions that give Gov. Roy Cooper and other Democrats heartburn.

ALEX GRANADOS: Fix for K-3 class size issue heading to House and Senate floors (EdNC analysis) A bill that includes a plan to fix the state’s K-3 class-size issue got an OK at the joint appropriations committee, clearing the way for votes in the full House and Senate. The education portion of the proposed legislation would phase in the much-debated class-size requirements over the next four years and spend about $60 million in additional funds for “enhancement” teachers next year. Henceforth, “enhancement” teachers will be funded by a separate allotment from classroom teachers.

GREG BARNES: Gov. Cooper: Smaller class sizes without more funding will ‘cause chaos’ (Fayetteville Observer analysis) -- The governor toured Hope Mills’ Ed V. Baldwin Elementary School and spoke about the law that reduces K-3 class sizes.

SUSAN LADD: Guilford County voters have reason to celebrate (Greensboro News & Record column) -- A fair election. After six long years and three election cycles, the people of Guilford County will actually be voting in fair elections — or at least fairer ones — in this year’s legislative races.

The Great Republican Power Grab (New York Times) -- In the next few months, the Supreme Court is expected to rule, at last, on one of the most corrosive practices in modern American democracy — the drawing of legislative district maps to entrench the party in power, no matter how many voters might want a different result. Even as this behavior, known as partisan gerrymandering, has gotten out of control in recent decades, the court has refused to rein it in because, the claim goes, any possible fix lies with the political branches and not the courts. That’s bunk.

MATTHEW BURNS: Durham's Michaux, longest-serving legislator, to retire (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Rep. Mickey Michaux, D-Durham, the longest-tenured member of the General Assembly, announced he plans to retire.

GARY ROBERTSON: Longtime North Carolina Rep. Michaux won't seek re-election (AP news analysis) -- Democratic Rep. Mickey Michaux, currently North Carolina's longest-serving state legislator and a fixture at the General Assembly in the fight for voting rights and funding historically black colleges, said Thursday he won't seek re-election.

Final compensation check sent to NC sterilization victims (AP news analysis) -- The third and final compensation payment has been mailed to sterilization victims, marking the end of a 15-year pursuit of financial help for people who suffered under North Carolina's eugenics program.

JEFF TIBERII: Four Women Kick Off Campaigns For NC Senate (WUNC-FM analysis) -- Four candidates for the North Carolina Senate kick off their campaigns today. They are all Democrats challenging Republican incumbents and they are all white women, none of whom have ever held elected office.

JOE KILLIAN: Elections/Ethics board still silent on Hise investigation (N.C.Policy Watch analysis) -- Nearly a year after the Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement began a probe into alleged campaign finance violations by State Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell), the investigation continues.

STEPHANIE CARSON: Raleigh Businesses Help Fight Bill Seen as Anti-Immigrant (Public News Service) -- The state Senate is pushing ahead with legislation to give state patrol officers the right to enforce federal immigration laws, but not without opposition. Senate Bill 145 also threatens loss of funding to force the UNC system and local governments to provide a person's legal status to authorities. Some Raleigh businesses hosted letter-writing stations for customers to share their views about the bill with lawmakers.

N.C. voting rights hearings (YouTube video) -- Watch Videos of Recent Hearings on Voting Rights in North Carolina from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

COREY FRIEDMAN: Bibbs indicted in lobbying fraud investigation (Wilson Times analysis) -- Attorney and former Wilson politician Mark Bibbs is accused of lying to state officials who were investigating claims that he broke the law by working as an unregistered lobbyist.

BYRON TAU: Senate Intelligence Committee Writing Report on Election Vulnerabilities Ahead of Midterms (Wall Street Journal analysis) -- The Senate Intelligence Committee is drafting a report on vulnerabilities in the U.S. election system that is expected to be released in the coming weeks, according to lawmakers and aides, in what will be the first product of a yearlong investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. “This is just to put a marker down,” said Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. His Republican counterpart, committee chairman Richard Burr (R, N.C.), said the report would “hopefully” be released before the beginning of primary season.

NC-based gunmaker Remington seeks financing to file for bankruptcy (Reuters analysis) -- Remington Outdoor Company Inc, one of the largest U.S. makers of firearms, has reached out to banks and credit investment funds in search of financing that will allow it to file for bankruptcy, people familiar with the matter. The Madison, N.C.-based gun manufacturer faces a maturity of an approximately $550 million term loan in 2019.

Keith v. State of N.C. (Greensboro News & Record) -- The veteran Triad prosecutor who came out of retirement to undo the jangled jumble in the Rockingham County DA’s office won’t be around to finish what he has begun.

EDUCATION
ROSE HOBAN: School Nurses’ New Roles Reflect Complex Health Needs of N.C.’s Students (N.C. Health News) -- The role of the school nurse has changed as kids' needs have evolved. A recent legislative study points to a need for funding more of them across the state.

ASHLEY A. SMITH: Dropping the D (Inside Higher Ed analysis) -- Transfer rates at North Carolina's Stanly Community College increased after the college made the simple grading change of no longer awarding D's.

JIM HUNT: NC is No. 1 in top teachers, but it needs more of them (EdNC column) -- There’s another place where North Carolina is first. We are the first state in having the largest number of teachers who have achieved National Board Certification since it was created – 21,460 of them. Still, our neediest schools and districts need more of them. How do we get them there? We can grow them within those schools and districts. Our legislators might consider paying the application fee for teachers who agree to go through the process and remain in that high-needs school or district for a specified length of time. We might pay the fee for teachers to seek Certification in areas of high need – reading, math, science, exceptional needs. We might provide stipends to NBCTs who will support Certification candidates in districts that need more mentors.

Effective sex ed keeps kids safe (Fayetteville Observer) -- It’s no surprise that some parents would raise a ruckus over the Cumberland County school system’s sex education curriculum. Sex education is guaranteed to raise controversy and disagreement, and it’s impossible to satisfy all parents, let alone all the people who live in a school district. In this county, we’re talking about the extended families of more than 51,000 students, spanning every conceivable race, color, creed and culture.

ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY
KIP TABB: Our Coast’s History: Drawing The Va-NC Line (Coastal Review column) -- The border between North Carolina and Virginia was delineated by an expedition of Virginians led in 1728 by William Byrd II, whose dim view of Tar Heels was made clear in a “secret” history.

JEFF HAMPTON: Lawmaker wants to keep bacteria out of your shrimp cocktail (Norfolk Virginian-Pilot analysis) -- “The average consumer has no idea what’s going on,” said John Williams, executive director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “It’s scary.”

… AND MORE
MONICA LALIBERTE: NC zip line industry lacks state inspections, regulations despite deaths (WRAL-TV analysis) -- Zip line rides are scattered across North Carolina, weaving through the mountains and stretching across the Triangle. But the popular attractions come with surprising danger: They're not regulated by North Carolina officials.

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