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Tuesday, July 16, 2024

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After the Trump assassination attempt, defining democracy gets even harder; Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate; DC residents push back on natural gas infrastructure buildup; and a new law allows youth on Medi-Cal to consent to mental health treatment.

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Donald Trump is formally put up for GOP nomination and picks Ohio Senator J.D. Vance as his running mate. Former presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy and swing state delegates consider ticket.

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Enticing remote workers to move is a new business strategy in rural America, Eastern Kentucky preservationists want to save the 20th century home of a trailblazing coal miner, and a rule change could help small meat and poultry growers and consumers.

North Carolina's public schools earn failing grades in national report

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Wednesday, February 28, 2024   

North Carolina's public school system is facing a crisis, according to the recently released "Public Schooling in America 2024" report.

It ranks the state's public school system 48th in the nation. Among the key findings, North Carolina received one of the worst scores for privatization laws.

Kris Nordstrom, senior policy analyst for the North Carolina Justice Center in Raleigh, raised concerns about the effect of voucher laws on public education. Initially designed to support low-income families, the voucher program has now expanded without income limits.

"It was now open to families of all incomes including millionaires and billionaires, and it's also open to families who already enrolled in private schools and have proven that they can afford private school," Nordstrom pointed out.

He noted it means more dollars are being diverted away from those who need it most, such as families with low incomes, students with disabilities, multilingual learners and rural schools. He argued in the long run it will only create more disparities in student opportunities. Public schools around the country were ranked based on privatization laws, home schooling, financial support for schools and the freedom to teach and learn.

Yevonne Brannon, board member of the group Public Schools First NC, emphasized the consequences of underfunding schools and the lack of teacher support. In North Carolina, teacher salaries trail the national average by 21%. She emphasized the report reflects low salaries, chronic staff shortages and lack of resources, which have resulted in high turnover rates among teachers. She said they are calling on legislatures to make changes to strengthen the schools and promote better student outcomes.

"We have got to change how we fund our schools," Brannon contended. "We've got to fund our schools better, and that includes paying our teachers and all the educators in the building better. The other thing is that we have to change some of our policies that are really limiting."

She stressed another issue impacting students is a lack of accountability and transparency in private schools receiving public funds. Without the requirements public schools have, she questioned the effectiveness of the institutions in providing an adequate education for all students. Brannon also emphasized the strong bipartisan support for public education in other states ranking well. She believes it underscores funding schools should be a nonpartisan issue.


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