scharrison's blog

US Senate votes to protect Net Neutrality

Unfortunately, this victory is mostly symbolic:

Senate Democrats, joined by three Republicans, pushed through a measure Wednesday intended to revive Obama-era internet rules that ensured equal treatment for all web traffic, though opposition in the House and the White House seems insurmountable. Republicans on the short end of the 52-47 vote described the effort to reinstate “net neutrality” rules as “political theater” because the GOP-controlled House is not expected to take up the issue and the Senate’s margin could not overcome a presidential veto.

Democrats, however, were undeterred, saying their push would energize young voters who are tech savvy and value unfettered access to the internet. “This is a defining vote. The most important vote we’re going to have in this generation on the internet,” said Democratic Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who sponsored the measure.

Just an observation, and your mileage may vary greatly: It's one thing to "think" about something helping you in the November Election, but it could serve to undermine that hope if you put it into words. The implication of Markey's statement is, "It doesn't matter if this vote actually changes anything now, if it helps us take over Congress." The same can be said to a certain degree of some comments made by Democratic lawmakers yesterday in Raleigh. Many of those teachers actually "lobbied" GOP lawmakers to point out deficiencies in funding and make suggestions for improvement. For them, it wasn't "just about November," it was about being heard. What's my point? Republicans in both DC and NC accuse the Democratic Party of using issues and the people affected for political purposes, and casual statements affirming that accusation are not helpful, no matter how excited you get in the moment.

Damning report on teachers' out-of-pocket expenses

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When government austerity creeps into the classroom:

Pencils, pens, crayons, construction paper, T-shirts, snacks and, sometimes, a pair of shoes: The costs add up for public school teachers who reach into their own pockets for classroom supplies, ensuring their students have the necessities of learning. Nearly all teachers are footing the bill for classroom supplies, an Education Department report found, and teachers in high-poverty schools spend more than those in affluent schools.

The report, prepared by the National Center for Education Statistics and released Tuesday, is based on a nationally representative survey of teachers during the 2015-2016 school year. It found that 94 percent of teachers pay for classroom supplies, spending an average of $479 a year. About 7 percent of teachers spend more than $1,000 a year.

Keep in mind, this is a national report. When your state's per-pupil spending hovers in the bottom 20% of schools nationwide, the burden that falls on teachers (and their students) is that much greater. We can no longer afford the GOP's bait-and-switch, where they moan about out-of-control spending, cut back on programs, brag about surpluses, then give huge tax cuts to the rich. And then when budget time comes again, they restart the same old formula. It amounts to incremental decay of our public education system, something that takes decades to repair. This is not a new problem; teachers have been suffering this funding nightmare for years. So why now? Why the big push for more responsible government funding? Because in the last 25 years or so, teachers' incomes have been steadily declining in comparison with comparable non-teacher professionals, making it much harder to make ends meet:

Manning vs. Budd: NC's 13th shaping up to be an epic battle

And Ted Budd better pack more than a lunch:

It looks as though politically attuned residents of the 13th Congressional District might be getting something this year that hasn’t been seen in these parts for quite a while. The novelty? A highly competitive, evenly matched contest for North Carolina’s 13th District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, one that could keep pollsters and political operatives on the edge of their chairs till the last vote is tabulated Nov. 6.

The rising tide of interest in the clash between freshman incumbent U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) and Democratic challenger Kathy Manning of Greensboro also extends to the national level, where activist groups across the political spectrum see it as one of about 30 races pivotal for the Republican Party’s chances of retaining its House majority against what some prognosticators view as a looming “blue wave” favoring Democrats.

Just a historical note: The only reason Ted Budd ended up in Washington in the first place was because the Club For Growth saw an opportunity to take advantage of a crowded GOP Primary, and poured money in so Budd could squeak by with a measly 20% of the vote. This race is going to garner national attention all the way through to November, and it's likely to get very ugly before it's over:

Public vs. Private: The hypocrisy of Berger and Johnson on teacher rallies

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Do like I say, not like I do:

State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and Superintendent of Public Instruction Mark Johnson have been voicing opposition to the big teacher-led education rally that’s taking shape next Wednesday in Raleigh. Berger attacked the one-day event and even likened it to a teacher strike, which he proceeded to describe in a thinly veiled threat as “illegal.” Johnson also criticized the rally because it is on a school day and said he would not attend.

Funny that neither Berger nor Johnson raised such concerns earlier this year when conservative school choice advocates – including teachers, parents and students – held a rally in Raleigh on, Tuesday, January 23 – a school day. At that time, Johnson thought it appropriate not just to endorse the event, but to attend and serve as a featured speaker.

We all know that Berger only cares about a tiny portion of the state's citizens, and an even smaller fraction of his own District constituents. But Mark Johnson is working diligently for an even smaller segment of the population, those who operate for-profit education factories:

Racism on the Radio: One-Term Pat still can't control his idiotic commentary

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Charlotte apparently has too many black people in positions of authority:

A large number of key positions in local leadership across Charlotte and Mecklenburg County are now held by African-Americans. The Queen City has an African American mayor, and the heads of the county commission and school boards are also black. For some of those positions, it is the first time someone who is black has held that job, but there is a new level of scrutiny coming from former North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory.

"I'm worried about the segregated aspects of Charlotte-Mecklenburg politics, and lack of diversity we might have," McCrory said.

Yes, that's right. He just used the term "segregated" to complain about not having enough white people running things. I can't even.

Walter Jones headed for his final term in Congress

In many ways Democrats just dodged a bullet:

Walter Jones, the 12-term North Carolina congressman perhaps best known for helping to popularize the term “Freedom Fries” during the Iraq War, defeated his Donald Trump-supporting challenger, Scott Dacey, in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

Jones’ victory, called by the Associated Press, virtually guarantees him another term representing North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, which Trump won by about 20 percentage points in 2016. No Democrats filed to run in 2018.

It may come as a shocker, but I'm happier about this result than most other contests, even among Democrats. From the moment I realized this was the only state/federal race that NC Democrats failed to challenge, two things have been going through my head: 1) If any race had to be conceded, this is the one. Jones is not only the most moderate (by far) Republican in NC's Congressional delegation, he's arguably the most moderate Republican in Congress, period:

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