House rejects Senate sea level rise bill

The North Carolina House just voted 114-0 not to concur with the Senate’s version of H819, Coastal Management Policies.
Citing the controversy over the sea-level rise language in the bill Rep. Pat McElrath, the sponsor of the original house version, asked that the bill be sent “into study” provided that conferees can be appointed.

With the legislature getting ready to pack up, that likely means the end of the sea-level rise legislation for this session.

Text of S795 Senate education plan

Here’s the link and here’s the text:

Short Title: Excellent Public Schools Act.

Sponsors: Senators Apodaca, P. Berger, and Tillman (Primary Sponsors).

Referred to:


AN ACT to make changes to improve K‑3 literacy; provide literacy volunteer leave time; assign school performance grades; MAXIMIZE INSTRUCTIONAL TIME; adjust school calendar START and end dates; fund five additional INSTRUCTIONAL days within the EXISTING school calendar; establish an NC teacher corps; strengthen teacher licensure requirements; PROVIDE PROOF OF STATE-FUNDED LIABILITY INSURANCE; establish plans for pay FOR EXCELLENCE; END TENURE; AND eliminate public FINANCING for the office of superintendent of public instruction.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:


SECTION 1.(a) G.S. 115C‑81.2 is repealed.

SECTION 1.(b) Article 8 of Chapter 115C of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new Part to read:

“Part 1A. North Carolina Read to Achieve Program.

“§ 115C‑83.1A. State goal.

The goal of the State is to ensure that every student read at or above grade level by the end of third grade and continue to progress in reading proficiency so that he or she can read, comprehend, integrate, and apply complex texts needed for secondary education and career success.

“§ 115C‑83.1B. Purposes.

(a) The purposes of this Part are to ensure that (i) difficulty with reading development is identified as early as possible; (ii) students receive appropriate instructional and support services to address difficulty with reading development and to remediate reading deficiencies; and (iii) each student and his or her parent or guardian be continuously informed of the student’s academic needs and progress.

(b) In addition to the purposes listed in subsection (a) of this section, the purpose of this Part is to determine that progression from one grade to another be based, in part, upon proficiency in reading.

Several dozen pages after the jump

Read more

NC State Senate plan would end teacher tenure, social promotion

North Carolina Senate leader Phil Berger announced a sweeping education plan introduced in the Senate today. Berger said the plan closely mirrors programs in Florida. The bill will be taken up in the legislature’s short session which starts on May 16.

The bill includes additional funds for reading programs in Grades 1-3. It would end teacher tenure and institute a merit pay system. It would also put an end to social promotion, Berger said.

Berger said he did not talk with teacher groups but did talk with individual teachers, superintendents and legislators in other states.

Naturally, the move has political implications. Teacher organizations are likely to fight the bill, but some aspects of it resonate strongly with independent voters and Democrats so it could turn into a wedge issue. President Obama is known to advocate positions that give the NEA heartburn.

The A-F grading system was a pretty smart move IMHO. As a former K-12 reporter who had to cover the implementation of the current School of Excellence/ School of Distinction system, it all seemed a bit too too. Most people probably have no idea what they mean. The A-F system is understandable.

It would be terrific if this thing could be a true starting point for reforming the state’s education system, but right now it looks like a purely partisan move. It’ll be interesting if some of the reporters covering this can get into who all Berger has been talking to about the bill. House Speaker, Thom Tillis for instance, wasn’t even in town. Neither was Pat McCrory.


Links to follow.

WRAL – NC Senate wants merit pay, end to teacher tenure

Forrester fury

No doubt State Senator James Forrester will be playing the victim card any second now. The legislature’s chief proponent of amending the North Carolina constitution to restrict marriage and domestic partnerships has already been the target of those opposed to the amendment. Now, the Gaston County Republican appears to have handed amendment opponents a golden opportunity by padding his resume.

In a story yesterday on Pam Spaulding’s Blend blog, said that Forrester was not a fellow as he’s claimed and according to the organization’s officials he’s not even a member.

Now WRAL is on the story as is ThinkProgress. And since the about page on his campaign web site reads like a giant vita, expect a few more of Forrester’s achievements to get a closer look.

While the proponents of codifying discrimination may try to play this off as a distraction and a personal attack by the evil Gays, Forrester’s credentials actual are an important part of the debate. He used his medical resume to sell the amendment referendum in the legislature repeatedly claiming that there is medical evidence showing the dangers of homosexuality. Event though his argument was complete balderdash, the fact that a doctor was saying it gave it weight.
Forrester was recently given a chance to back up his claim on Michael Signorile’s radio show. He had a little trouble citing any studies.

This interview has to be heard to be believed: Forrester not only could not back up his claims with any evidence — after first trying to source the Centers for Disease Control, only to be debunked by me — but he actually acknowledged that he could be wrong. He eventually credited a Christian activist named Frank Turek (who is associated with Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage) as his source of this bogus public health information.


WRAL live coverage of Senate abortion law debate

The NC Senate takes up several issues in what could be the last day of the special session, including H854, which imposes a 24 hour waiting period and other restrictions and requirements on abortion.
It was just announced that Sen. Stan Bingham, who voted against the bill and was at the NCGA during the day, now has an excused absence. If he’s walked, it means the GOP probably has enough votes to override Governor Perdue’s veto. Twenty nine votes are needed.

A shabby moment

I happened to be in the Senate gallery yesterday to witness the brief discussion on the state budget compromise worked out between the Senate and House leadership and the Gang of Five Democrats in the House.

The debate on the bill kicked off with a move by Democrats to sever a section that would extend the unemployment benefits that have been held hostage since early April by the GOP leadership.
The use of the now 47,000 people as a bargaining chip is awful enough, especially since there is no cost to the state to extend these benefits. The number of people losing their payments keeps increasing while this shameful behavior continues. During discussions, derision of the unemployed has been an unfortunate aspect of the rhetoric. During the debate yesterday, there was a particularly appalling example of the lack of respect shown to the unemployed and their families.

In a back and forth between Senator Malcolm Graham, who called for quick passage of a standalone bill on the benefits extension, and Rules Committee chair Senator Tom Apodaca, who insisted it stay in the budget, Graham noted the uncertainty faced by families. He listed their worries and among many was a concern about how they might be able to afford to send a child to a summer camp. In a truly callous display of hubris Apodaca said people who are unemployed shouldn’t even consider such a thing.

There are no doubt hundreds of thousands of North Carolina families whose breadwinners are employed, under-employed and unemployed that are struggling to make ends meet and trying to budget for summer camp. In recognition of the positive impact some of these camps have on children, many churches, schools and non-profits provide scholarships and subsidies to low and moderate income families. To say that the children from these families – including those having their lives turned upside down through political gamesmanship – don’t deserve access to camps is another example of the crass class warfare embraced by the current leadership.

The following two-minute exchange was captured by the folks at NC Policy Watch. Apodaca’s comment about camps is at the end. His office phone number is (919) 733-5745.

Fracking, Offshore drilling bill passes NC Senate

After a brief debate the NC Senate has passed an energy bill that sets up offshore drilling and fracking for natural gas in NC. The bill, S709, was sold as a jobs bill.
In selling it, supporters managed to bring up 9/11 and somehow spin it as a positive that NC will get the same kind of deal as the Gulf States. Also in the debate it was mentioned that before the BP spill last year there had never been a major spill (huh?). In the zombie lies department, Senator Bob Rucho re-animated the idea that spills are nowhere near the volume as ocean floor seepage.
This oft-used talking point was thoroughly debunked during the Deepwater Horizon spill.
From an article by Dr. Cutler J. Cleveland, a Professor in the Department of Geography and Environment at Boston University, in the Oil Drum:

The Deepwater Horizon site releases 3 to 12 times the oil per day compared to that released by natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico. By May 30, the Deepwater Horizon site had released between 468,000 and 741,000 barrels of oil, compared to 60,000 to 150,000 barrels from natural seeps across the entire Gulf of Mexico over the same 39 day period.

Natural seeps are not constantly active; the volume of oil released can vary considerably throughout the day and from day to day. As a result, only a small area around the source is actually exposed to “fresh” non-degraded oil, which is its most toxic state.

On fracking, the Indy’s Lisa Sorg has a post up on the new Duke University study of areas in Pennsylvania that have been experiencing it first-hand.

“Essentially, the closer you are to a natural gas well, the more likely you are to have methane in your well,” said Rob Jackson, one of the scientists involved in the study. “What surprised me was the consistency of the results.”