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Friday, December 15, 2017

UNC Passes System-Wide “Free Speech” Policy

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 6:35 PM

The UNC Board of Governors approved a free speech policy for its seventeen campuses today amid concerns from faculty and civil rights advocates. Effective immediately, the policy outlines how UNC schools may punish a student or faculty member who “substantially disrupts the functioning of the constituent institution or substantially interferes with the protected free expression rights of others.” Individual campuses are empowered to implement sanctions “up to and including dismissal or expulsion." The policy lays out minimum punishments for repeat offenders but says schools can impose different sanctions if warranted. The policy suggests at least suspension for a second offense and...

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Now the General Assembly Wants to “Reform” School Funding. Oh, Boy.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 15, 2017 at 8:49 AM

In a hearing yesterday of the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform, the chief financial officer of the Department of Public Instruction pleaded with lawmakers that, while some improvements can be made to the state’s school funding formula, it doesn’t need a wholesale overhaul. The Republicans who make up the bulk of that task force were not impressed. “State lawmakers could overhaul the way $9.4 billion in public school dollars are spent annually, affecting the way that North Carolina’s 1.6 million public school students are educated. Legislators are looking at changing how the state funds K-12 education following...

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Monday, September 18, 2017

UNC Faculty Members Call for the Removal of Silent Sam

Posted By on Mon, Sep 18, 2017 at 5:57 PM

Faculty members in UNC-Chapel Hill's art and art history departments are calling for the Confederate monument known as Silent Sam to be removed. Twenty-two faculty members signed a letter sent today to Chancellor Carol Folt. Their message comes as students, some of whom staged a sit-in around the statue to compel its removal, are calling for a boycott of UNC stores. “The unacceptable version of history to which Silent Sam gives voice claims that those who fought for the Confederacy did so in the name of regional loyalty alone, rather than, as historians have long concluded, to preserve the institution...

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Thursday, July 13, 2017

Durham Public Schools and a Contractor Agree to Pay $77K to Settle Claims of Custodial Workers Owed Back Pay and Overtime

Posted By and on Thu, Jul 13, 2017 at 6:32 PM

In a settlement approved by a federal court today, custodial workers who worked for Integrity Facilities Management LLC, which contracted with Durham Public Schools, secured pay they are owed but never received. The N.C. Justice Center, representing 149 plaintiffs in a case against DPS and a contractor, SSC Service Solutions, settled for $77,000, which will be divided among the workers based on how much they are owed. The settlement comes after lawyers at the N.C. Justice Center discovered that Integrity Facilities Management, which filed for bankruptcy in 2014, underpaid workers and did not properly pay them for overtime hours. Workers...

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Orange County School Board Balks on Confederate Flag Ban

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 5:08 PM

Citing a lack of protections for LGBTQ students and students with disabilities, the Orange County School Board balked on officially adding new language to the school system’s dress code that would ban the Confederate flag, swastikas, and other racially intimidating symbols from county schools. The measure, which would prohibit students from wearing clothing and accessories that are “indecent, profane, or racially intimidating,” passed its first reading June 12. Advocates saw Monday's final vote as merely a formality. But board member Donna Coffey said she thought the new language failed to address protections for LGBTQ and disabled students and motioned for the matter to...

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Primer: Senate Health Bill CBO Score—Fatal Blow or Flesh Wound?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 27, 2017 at 10:08 AM

Hey, y’all. There’s A TON of news today, and, as ever, I’ll move through it as expeditiously as possible. First, though, a teaser: later this afternoon, the INDY is going to drop part one of what will be a three-part series on North Carolina’s pork industry and its effect on the state’s environment and hog farms’ eastern North Carolina neighbors. Reporters Erica Hellerstein and Ken Fine have been working on this project for months. It’s deeply reported and a very (in my estimation) important read. Keep an eye out for it. Anyway, let’s begin. 1. CBO SAYS 22M WILL LOSE...

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Primer: Trump Is Thinking About Firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and Other Things You Need to Know Today

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 10:27 AM

Happy Tuesday, everyone. There’s a lot in the news, and we’ll get to it straightaway. But first, may I ask a favor? Our first Primer seemed to go well; the response was overwhelmingly positive. But if you are experiencing any problems or have any suggestions about how we can make this newsletter more readable—e.g., if the formatting looks wonky on your computer or device—please pass them along to jbillman@indyweek.com. This is a new venture, and we’re learning as we go. So with that said, let’s go. —Jeffrey C. Billman 1. HE WOULDN’T DARE. (WOULD HE?) THE GIST: According to one of...

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Orange County Schools Takes Step Toward Confederate Flag Ban

Posted By on Tue, Jun 13, 2017 at 5:56 AM

More than six months after the parent of an Orange High School student founded the Hate Free Schools Coalition in response to Confederate flags on T-shirts, backpacks, and hats on campus, the Orange County Board of Education voted Monday evening to ban racially intimidating symbols from inside local schools. While the policy change won't be official until a second vote is held, should the board move forward with the revision to the system's dress code, students would be prohibited from wearing "clothing, buttons, patches, jewelry or any other items with words, phrases, symbols, pictures or signs that are indecent, profane,...

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Wake School Board Disputes County Manager’s Assertion That He Has Proposed Highest Per-Pupil Expenditure Ever

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 7:42 AM

The dispute between the Wake County commission and the school board—which the INDY wrote about in this week’s print edition—over how much money the school system says it needs for the next year and the amount the commissioners are willing to supply grew more complicated Tuesday afternoon, with volleys from both sides. Key points included whether the schools should roll over millions of dollars from year to year and whether the county manager correctly announced that his budget included the highest per-pupil expenditure in county history. On Monday, county manager Jim Hartmann told the Board of Commissioners that the school...

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Passage of HB 13 Would Lower Wake Schools’ Funding Request by $12 Million

Posted By on Tue, Apr 25, 2017 at 9:43 PM

Wake County schools’ request for local dollars in the 2017–18 school year will shrink to $45.4 million from $56.6 million if the General Assembly passes the class-size bill called HB 13. That was the word from Superintendent Jim Merrill to Wake County Board of Education members at a work session Tuesday. The bill, which was amended Monday night to loosen a state mandate to shrink class sizes in the school year that starts in July, passed the Senate Tuesday and will return to the House. Although HB 13 now offers Wake schools a significant breather, many pieces of the budget...

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Monday, April 24, 2017

HB 13, Bill That Addresses Class Sizes, Moves Forward

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 9:05 PM

In a response of sorts to concern about possible repercussions of state-mandated K–3 class-size reductions, a Senate committee on Monday night rapidly moved forward a modified bill designed to phase in smaller classes. The bill, an altered version of HB 13, gives systems more flexibility in reducing classroom size and paying specialties teachers in the school year that begins in July. In presenting the bill, Senator Chad Barefoot, R-Wake, said that the General Assembly will create an additional allotment for music, art, and physical ed teachers in the 2018–19 school year, after the state Department of Public Instruction satisfies legislators that money sent to districts is being...

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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Guy Who Thinks Blacks Are Intellectually Inferior Is Speaking At Duke Tonight, Who's Coming With Us?

Posted By on Tue, Mar 21, 2017 at 1:56 PM

Social scientist Charles Murray, a man classified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a white nationalist, will speak at Duke University tonight. According to The Chronicle, Murray is expected to speak about his 2012 book Coming Apart: The State of White America, in an event cosponsored by the Duke College Republicans and the Duke contingent of the American Enterprise Institute, where Murray is the W. H. Brady Scholar. The discussion begins at six p.m. at the Doris Duke Center, 420 Anderson Street.  The "secure location" was chosen after protests erupted during an appearance by Murray earlier this month at Vermont's Middlebury...

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Racially Charged Incident Videotaped in Wake School

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 6:05 PM

Two incidents of racial violence that have unfolded in a single week in Wake County Public Schools—both videotaped and widely circulated on social media and one including a chant of “KKK!”—have administrators seeking ways to stop such incidents from occurring in the system. But whatever next steps Wake County officials undertake will come in addition to the current practice of cautioning students in their code of conduct and elsewhere against racist conduct and bullying. (Students already receive training that forbids the use of the racially derogatory language heard in a video made by Leesville Road Middle School students and another shot at Wake Forest High...

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wake County Residents: Make Schools Safe Zones for Undocumented Children

Posted By on Wed, Mar 8, 2017 at 8:31 AM

Several people spoke out Tuesday to urge members of the Wake County Board of Education to make every county school a safe zone for undocumented children. But Martha Hernandez's remarks seemed to hit the hardest. Hernandez, whose daughter, Alejandra, attends Centennial Middle School, spoke in Spanish, her words repeated in English by Angela Mills, an interpreter provided by the school system. Hernandez told the board she appeared not only as a mother of her child, but as a resident who's concerned about all children. "I would like you to understand that children cannot focus on their education and their future when...

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Friday, March 3, 2017

Activists Urge Wake Schools to Become Safe Zones for Undocumented Students

Posted By on Fri, Mar 3, 2017 at 5:26 PM

A far-reaching coalition of activists will urge Wake County school board members at a Tuesday meeting to make each of its schools a “safe zone” for undocumented students. Board members received notification in a Friday email from than two-dozen social justice and immigration rights groups including El Pueblo, Great Schools in Wake, and the Coalition of Concerned Citizens for African American Children. School board member Jim Martin said Friday that he was aware of the fear many undocumented families are experiencing but added that the protections the coalition requests are covered under school board policy, federal guidelines, and Supreme Court...

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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Protest Planned for Tonight at Duke

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 10:45 AM

More than three hundred people have, via Facebook, expressed interest in attending a "No Wall, No Ban" rally on the steps of the iconic Duke Chapel this evening—the latest in a series of gatherings that have unfolded locally in response to President Donald Trump's rhetoric and executive orders. Here are all the details, in case you'd like to be there: Organizers of the event say it is part of "Resist Trump Tuesday," which, frankly, has a nice ring to it. Here is a description, in the group's own words: See you there....

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

UNC Students Walk Out in Inauguration Protest

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 10:58 AM

Yesterday, Donald Trump placed his (tiny) hand on the Bible and became the forty-fifth president of the United States. It was a celebratory moment for the historically small crowd that gathered to see it, an ominous and foreboding day for just about everyone else. Trump painted a bleak picture of the United States in his inaugural address, at one point vowing to put an end to "American carnage." Not long after the inauguration, clashes between protesters and police broke out in downtown D.C. Windows were smashed; tear gas dispatched. By six p.m., more than two hundred people had been...

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Friday, December 9, 2016

The Morning Roundup: Godspeed, John Glenn

Posted By on Fri, Dec 9, 2016 at 8:29 AM

Happy Friday, everyone. It’s cold out there, so pour yourself a cup of Joe and join us for your morning primer. 1. John Glenn, American hero, RIP. The first man to orbit the Earth—not to mentioned a Marine Corps combat vet, U.S. senator from Ohio, and 1984 presidential candidate—died yesterday at the age of ninety-five. From The New York Times obit, which is worth reading in its entirety: In just five hours on Feb. 20, 1962, Mr. Glenn joined a select roster of Americans whose feats have seized the country’s imagination and come to embody a moment in its history, figures...

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Who Wants to be the Next Durham School Board Member? One of These Eleven People

Posted By on Tue, Sep 27, 2016 at 10:45 AM

With the resignation of Sendolo Diaminah in August the Durham Public Schools Board of Education must fill a vacant position, and there's no lack of interest with thirteen applicants vying for the spots. However, two of the applicants—Florida DeVaul Dudley an Shonda Wilson—were removed from consideration because they do no live within District 2.  Diaminah resigned after his attendance at meetings was called into question (he'd reportedly missed at least nine out of sixteen meetings). Now, the board is charged with appointing someone by October 24—sixty days after Diaminah resigned.  The eleven candidates include two familiar faces—Frederick Davis, who Diaminah was...

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Friday, May 27, 2016

Margaret Spellings Installs AEI Conservative as UNC Senior Vice President

Posted By on Fri, May 27, 2016 at 7:49 AM

So it begins: Yesterday, new UNC president Margaret Spellings announced the appointment of Andrew Kelly to a newly created position called "senior vice president for strategy and policy." The school will pay him $245,000 a year.  A UNC release notes that Kelly was a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute from 2002-2005, and returned to AEI in 2009 as a research fellow in education policy studies. He is also the founder and director of AEI's Center on Higher Education Reform.   The American Enterprise Institute: Why does that ring a bell? Oh, right: It's a big, conservative think tank...

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Friday, April 29, 2016

The Morning Roundup: McCrory Can’t Believe We’re Talking About This

Posted By on Fri, Apr 29, 2016 at 8:16 AM

Beleaguered by the still-mounting HB 2 backlash, Governor McCrory sought out some friendlier quarters, this time Fox News’s The Kelly File. As has become Republican practice, host Megyn Kelly didn’t talk about all the controversial things HB 2 did—eliminating workplace discrimination lawsuits, overriding living wage ordinances, etc.—instead choosing to focus on the only issue they think matters (and have not-terrible polling on): which bathroom transgender people decide to use.  Kelly pressed McCrory several times on the rhetoric surrounding HB2. "What is the fear about the transgender situation in the bathrooms?" she asked. "Mine is not a fear," McCrory responded....

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Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Plea to Prioritize Sustainability in Durham Schools—from One of Its Students

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 5:11 PM

Senith Berhane, an eleventh-grade student at Riverside High School, in Durham, says she became interested in environmental issues after viewing An Inconvenient Truth a few years ago. “I legitimately could not sleep at night,” Berhane tells the INDY. “I realized, around the world and within my community, how rapid and extensive climate change was negatively impacting the environment. And I knew I needed to be a part of the change.” Riverside’s engineering department coordinator told Berhane about the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE), an organization that educates youth about climate change and gives them opportunities to take action to slow it....

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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Charlie Rose To Receive Honorary Degree from Duke

Posted By on Thu, Feb 11, 2016 at 2:33 PM

Charlie Rose, whose Henderson, North Carolina, accent is perceptible every evening on his eponymous PBS interview program (or pro-gruhm, as Rose says), will receive an honorary degree from Duke University this May, the school announced today. "As we celebrate the achievements of our graduates, Duke also has a tradition of conferring a small number of honorary degrees at commencement," Duke president Richard Brodhead says in a release. "These degrees honor individuals who have made outstanding contributions in diverse fields. We lift them up as inspiring examples of how today’s graduates might use their talent and education to make their own...

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Duke Adjuncts Take Union Fight to Durham City Council

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 3:06 PM

Contingent faculty at Duke — that is, adjunct and non-tenure-track instructors — have been organizing in support of a union since last year. In January, their cause won the support of the Durham People's Alliance, the influential local political group. Today, they brought their arguments to the Durham City Council in the form of a proposed resolution.  Councilwoman Jillian Johnson opened this afternoon's council work session by reading aloud the proposal, which ticked off facts about the university: 35,000 employees, 3,300 faculty members, $8 million in property taxes exempted in the most recent tax year. It noted that Duke (and,...

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Interesting morning in Chapel Hill! Four arrested in protest of Margaret Spellings

Posted By on Tue, Jan 26, 2016 at 11:52 AM

Margaret Spellings doesn't even start as UNC system president until March, but calls for her head continue apace.  Why all the Spellings hate?  "Faculty are dissatisfied with the current state at UNC and have no confidence that Spellings will move the system in the right direction,” says Zach Robinson, a faculty member at East Carolina University and a member of the Faculty Forward Network. “Her past actions have shown that she does not have the leadership to lead a world class public system facing a diverse student body, decreased funding and skyrocketing tuition." Spellings' past actions include serving as secretary of...

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