GOP cuts to education wreaking havoc on schools

Misleading rhetoric collides with hard fact in the classroom:

About 111 teacher assistants have been placed on a rehire list because of reductions in state funding, according to school officials. The state budget reduced spending for teacher assistants by $120 million, or about 21 percent. More than 3,850 teacher assistant positions in grades two and three will be eliminated statewide.

Superintendent Frank Till Jr. said the schools will continue to work hard with limited resources. "As you can see, the numbers don't support claims that our systems are better off," Till said. "We are raising class sizes, terminating people and down on school supplies."

Somebody needs to tell all these school boards and superintendents that Republicans did not cut their funding, and they're getting even more than before! They simply must have misplaced those dollars. Have they looked in all the desks? Or maybe behind the coffeepot in the teacher's lounge? It's got to be somewhere. Maybe it's going here:

Huffpo on the DOJ's difficult road blocking NC's voter suppression law

Which only emphasizes the need for continued civil litigation:

The department lacks subpoena power in voting cases, which means it may have to look for evidence of discriminatory intent in emails that private litigants try to obtain through state freedom of information requests. If that doesn’t work out, the DOJ could try a more subtle strategy. “There's plenty of case law where the courts have found intent of racial discrimination because certain decisions aren't explainable unless you take account of race as the motivation,” Crayton said.

If you want to join this fight, donating to this group may be the best way.

Tuesday Twitter roundup

A hat-tip to the under-the-bridge dwellers:

Here are a few from the Georgia Questions Suggestions:

Aqua NC looks to squeeze more money out of citizens

The dark side of privatization:

Aqua North Carolina is asking state regulators for a 19.15 percent rate increase to raise bills for its water and sewer customers by $240 a year. It’s the third rate case in the past five years for the state’s biggest private water utility, which already charges twice as much as Raleigh, Durham, Cary and many municipalities. Aqua is a publicly traded company admired on Wall Street for its strategy of aggressive rate requests to recover investments in pipes and to reward shareholders.

Not only should the Utilities Commission refuse this rate hike, the Attorney General's office needs to open an investigation into the already hugely exorbitant charges this company is levying on its customers every month.

Public hearing on Titan Cement's air quality permit

The five-year battle continues:

Monday’s hearing—to be held at 6 p.m. at Kenan Auditorium, on the campus of UNCW—will decide whether Titan is awarded an extension to meet revised guidelines that dictate how emissions from such plants are monitored. According to a notice of the hearing, which is being conducted by the N.C. Division of Air Quality, those revisions would allow Titan to increase the plant’s annual emissions of fine particles by 22 tons per year and coarse particles by 10 tons per year.

While this article does give a nod to the StopTitan network, the bulk of the piece appears to be an interview with Bob Odom. As such, there is no mention of the SLAPP suits that were filed against a couple of concerned citizens, making these statements disingenuous at best:

The GOP's assault on DG Martin

First they went after the journalists:

Martin wrote in a column that appears in newspapers around the state quoting from a recent bestseller by Erik Larson, “In the Garden of Beasts,” that refers to comments by Joseph Goebbels. “Now our party is in charge and they are free again,” Goebbels is quoted as saying. “When a man has been in jail for twelve years and he is suddenly freed, in his joy he may do something irrational, perhaps even brutal.”

To which Martin added the question, “In our state, too?”

The point DG Martin was trying to make wasn't so much that the NC GOP was exhibiting Nazi-like behavior (which they are, by the way), but that their actions might be at least somewhat attributed to their being out of power for so long. When your voice has been suppressed for so many years, you may be more apt to yell than talk calmly. And what Claude Pope is too dense to realize is, his call for the dismissal of Martin makes him look more like a Nazi than the column in question did:

DAG McCrory spouts nonsense about jobs and education

He's been hanging out with his imaginary friends again:

McCrory reported that he had employers practically breaking down his door with jobs just waiting for qualified workers.

“When employers are begging for qualified applicants in a state with the fifth-highest unemployment rate in the nation...that tells me we have a disconnect between commerce and education,” McCrory said.

The only disconnect that's apparent is the one between that little shriveled-up thing you call a brain and your mouth. This excuse is actually worse than "the dog ate my homework." That actually happens sometimes, albeit rarely. But if he actually did have employers "breaking down his door", he'd be sitting in high political cotton:

NC GOP Needs Its Healthcare Benefits

Every so often we see new evidence that there's some sort of (at least partial) cosmic justice in the world.

Today the Raleigh News & Observer reports that "hedonistic" happiness can lead to health problems, whereas "altruistic" happiness can offer health benefits. In other words, making yourself feel good at the expense of others by being selfish is bad for you; making yourself feel good by helping others and being selfless is good for you:

A study published this week by researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill and UCLA showed that a “hedonic” or self-gratifying type of happiness – the result of a massage or a tasty meal – made cells in the immune system act like they were under stress, a condition that over time could lead to diseases such as cancer or heart attacks.

Death by a thousand cuts: how to TRAP women's rights

Keep your pink shirt handy, because it looks like we'll need to be even more vigilant than before:

"What we typically see is that abortion opponents are really active and in charge of the process," said Elizabeth Nash, the state issues manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health think tank that supports abortion rights but whose research is respected by both sides. She said North Carolinians should expect that process to include a comment period, much back and forth between various governmental bodies, and probably public hearings. Nash said in Virginia, the clinic regulation process turned out to be very political. "It was not based on medical evidence," said Nash, "and was really about making it incredibly hard to open and operate an abortion clinic."

Not only do we need to keep an eye on how regulations will be developed, we also need to be prepared to fight future bills by looking at what stunts Republicans in other states have pulled:

BackwardNC launches NC Hall of Shame

[Cross-posted from BackwardNC]

With the Jones Street House of Pain in recess, and the smoke from their General Sherman-style march across the state beginning to clear, we are thankful that the unrelenting daily damage has taken a pause. Of course, the well-intentioned (that is, mean-spirited) laws they passed will continue to hurt people in The Old Backward State every day, but at least they've gone home and have stopped piling on more excrement.

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