REPORT DETAILS LACK OF FUNDING FOR EDUCATION OVER LAST DECADE: But WestEd says that when adjusted to 2018 dollars, per-pupil spending in North Carolina has declined about 6% since 2009–10. The report also says that, based on 2017 dollars, average salaries for the state’s teachers that year were lower than compared to 2003 or 2009. This level of education funding, according to the report, has led to problems such as fewer teachers employed, “stagnating salaries” and “underfunded” high-poverty schools. “They try to address it, but unfortunately, funding is not there — that’s what we are told,” an unnamed middle school teacher says in the report. “For instance … we don’t have textbooks, we need to make copies of reading selections to teach those kids. We only get, like, 1,500 copies per nine weeks. … [W]e [use] our own money, we have to buy cartridges for our printers to print this.”
ELIZABETH WARREN EXPANDS HER NC OPERATION, HEADQUARTERS IN RALEIGH: The Massachusetts senator’s North Carolina campaign now has more than 20 staffers, including those who have worked on the campaigns of former President Barack Obama and N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper. The campaign’s North Carolina headquarters is in downtown Raleigh. It also opened field offices in Durham, Charlotte and Asheville in December. Warren’s state director Maggie Thompson worked in the Obama administration and Cooper’s campaign. Community organizing director Rayshawn Dyson previously worked on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s presidential campaign as well as for Hillary Clinton and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Other senior campaign staffers previously worked for Dan McCready’s congressional campaign and the state Democratic Party. Warren’s previous community organizing director in North Carolina died shortly before her visit to the state. Her campaign held a moment of silence for Denzel Cummings before her rally in Raleigh.
CUMBERLAND COMMISSIONERS VOTE TO SPEND $10.5 MILLION TO RUN WATER TO GENX NEIGHBORHOODS: Of that amount, $3 million will be used to extend public water lines to the Alderman Road and Gray’s Creek elementary schools. County officials said they hope to have public water to the schools within 18 months. Drinking fountains at both schools have been turned off since 2017, when a low level of GenX was discovered in the water supply for Gray’s Creek Elementary School. Additional samples taken at that school in October found other PFAS nearing the threshold the state considers safe to drink. Bottled water continues to be used at both schools, though contamination has not been found at the Alderman Road school. The two schools are about a quarter of a mile from each other. The remaining $7.5 million the commissioners set aside will go toward a second phase to provide public water to potentially hundreds of homes in the Gray’s Creek community, where private wells have been contaminated with GenX and other PFAS. The board does not have an estimate on when that work would be completed.
DEFENSE SECRETARY REJECTS TRUMP'S THREAT TO ATTACK "CULTURAL" SITES IN IRAN: The Pentagon on Monday distanced itself from President Donald Trump’s assertions that he would bomb Iranian cultural sites despite international prohibitions on such attacks. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the U.S. will “follow the laws of armed conflict.” When asked if that ruled out targeting cultural sites, Esper said pointedly, “That’s the laws of armed conflict.” The split between the president and his Pentagon chief came amid heightened tensions with Tehran following a U.S. drone strike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Trump had twice warned that he would hit Iranian cultural sites if Tehran retaliates against the U.S. Esper’s public comments reflected the private concerns of other defense and military officials, who cited legal prohibitions on attacks on civilian, cultural and religious sites, except under certain, threatening circumstances.
40 IRANIANS DEAD AFTER SOLEIMANI FUNERAL STAMPEDE: Iranian state news agencies reported that at least 40 people died and more than 200 were injured in a stampede during funeral ceremonies in Kerman, Soleimani’s hometown. Security council head Ali Shamkhani said 13 scenarios for retaliation are being considered, and specifically mentioned that U.S. bases in the region were under surveillance. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard commander, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, hinted that Israel could be a target. Iran’s foreign minister said the United States denied him a visa to attend a United Nations meeting in New York. The Trump administration is drawing up potential sanctions against Iraq if the country’s leaders go through with plans to order the expulsion of U.S. troops for killing Soleimani on Iraqi soil. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has warned that militants “would be the only winners” of a full-blown war as a result of U.S.-Iran tensions. Raab singled out the Islamic State group as having most to gain.