BERGER AND TRUITT PUSH BILL TO SHIFT READING INSTRUCTION: North Carolina Senate Republican leaders want schools to emphasize the use of phonics to help deal with how many young children are having challenges learning to read. The Excellent Public Schools Act of 2021, which was filed on Monday, requires Pre-K and elementary school teachers to be trained in the “science of reading,” a method of reading instruction that stresses phonics. The legislation comes as reading scores have dropped in the state despite the efforts of the Read To Achieve program to improve early childhood literacy. “Training teachers in the science of reading is a crucial strategy for literacy improvement,” Senate leader Phil Berger, one of the bill’s primary sponsors, said at a news conference Monday.
ANOTHER DEMOCRAT STEPS INTO 2022 U.S. SENATE RACE TO REPLACE BURR: The mayor of a small North Carolina coastal town is getting into next year’s race for the U.S. Senate, saying the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol motivated him to step up and defend democracy against violent actors. Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton plans to announce his bid for the Democratic nomination in early April, the Carteret County News-Times reported. Republican Sen. Richard Burr has said he won’t seek reelection in 2022. Newton, a retired Air Force colonel and current doctoral student at Duke University studying marine science and conservation, would join a growing pool of announced candidates, particularly among Democrats. “We have such great national challenges that I just can’t sit on the sideline, certainly not when our democracy is under attack,” he told the newspaper in an interview. “I am committed to running for the U.S. Senate in 2022.” Former state Sen. Erica Smith, current state Sen. Jeff Jackson and virologist Richard Watkins are among those already in the Democratic primary race. Advisers of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley said this month that she’ll soon enter the race.
ELON STUDENTS WORKING ON DOCUMENTARIES ABOUT WYATT OUTLAW: For the past several weeks, the pair has worked to gather as much information on Outlaw as possible. Outlaw is famous for being the first black constable and commissioner in Graham. His eventual death at the hands of Ku Klux Klan members served as the catalyst for a conflict against armed white supremacists and North Carolina Gov. William Holden. That conflict would come to be known as the Kirk-Holden War. Both Nelson and Brown, who are not from the Alamance County area, said the project has been a learning experience for them. "I'm actually from New York," Nelson said. "I don't really know the area that well and I didn't really know about the social justice activities in North Carolina, and I didn't know about Wyatt Outlaw before." Brown, a North Carolina resident, echoed Nelson. "I actually live in Charlotte but I had not heard of Wyatt Outlaw until I was attending Elon," Brown said. "I heard about him...during some local protests." What happened to Wyatt Outlaw needs to be taught in schools statewide.
JURORS WATCH (IN HORROR) FULL VIDEO OF GEORGE FLOYD BEING MURDERED: As the video played on television monitors set up around the socially distanced courtroom, several jurors visibly reacted, including one who drew a sharp breath as Floyd was heard saying, “I can’t breathe.” One put a hand to her temple, while another was seen looking away. One juror — a White woman in her 50s who works as a nurse — gripped the armrests of her chair. “You can believe your eyes,” Blackwell told the jury during his roughly one-hour opening statement. “It’s a homicide. It’s murder.” Behind him, Chauvin, 45, sat at the defense table, occasionally looking up at the video and taking notes on a yellow legal pad. He appeared to be avoiding eye contact with the jury. Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department before he was fired in May, has pleaded not guilty to second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Floyd’s cause of death is expected to be a key point of contention during the trial. The other three officers who were at the scene with Chauvin — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. Those officers, who were also fired, are scheduled to stand trial in August. Prosecutors opened their case with testimony from three witnesses — including a 911 dispatcher who phoned a Minneapolis police supervisor after she saw Chauvin and the other officers kneeling on Floyd on a police surveillance camera that overlooks 38th and Chicago. Blackwell previewed dispatcher Jena Scurry as a witness during his opening statements, saying that after watching Floyd’s arrest on a surveillance feed, “she did something that she had never done in her career. She called the police on the police.”
PRESIDENT BIDEN CONTINUES FOCUS ON DIVERSITY WITH HIS JUDICIAL NOMINEES: In a statement early Tuesday, the president announced the nominations of 11 people to serve as federal district or appeals court judges, moving faster than any president in decades to fill open positions in the courts. His nominees — led by Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson for the influential U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit — included three African-American women for appeals court vacancies and candidates who, if confirmed by the Senate, would be the first federal judge who is Muslim, the first Asian-American woman to serve on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia Circuit and the first woman of color to serve as a federal judge in Maryland. “This trailblazing slate of nominees draws from the very best and brightest minds of the American legal profession,” Mr. Biden said in a statement. “Each is deeply qualified and prepared to deliver justice faithfully under our Constitution and impartially to the American people — and together they represent the broad diversity of background, experience, and perspective that makes our nation strong.” The Chicago-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit is a case in point. After the only African-American judge serving there stepped aside in 2017, Mr. Trump had four chances to make a racially diverse pick for the court. He did not take the opportunity, instead naming four more white judges. Allies say Mr. Biden, a former longtime chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a deep background in judicial nominations, is determined to install judges with different sets of experiences from the mainly white corporate law partners and prosecutors who have been tapped for decades by presidents of both parties. Mr. Biden has also promised to appoint the first African-American woman to the Supreme Court.