EX-TEACHER FORMS CONSERVATIVE ALTERNATIVE TO NCAE: “We support America, we support patriotism and we want protection for the teachers who want to focus on academic content,” Marshall said in an interview Tuesday with The News & Observer. “If a teacher is harassed for not teaching something political or (for not teaching) critical race theory, we want to support the teacher.” Carolina Teachers Alliance has aligned itself with Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who recently announced the formation of a a task force to collect complaints from parents, students and teachers about “indoctrination” in the classroom. Robinson charges that the “radical left” wants to indoctrinate students. “Our Teachers need to have the freedom to teach patriotism and love of country, and should not be forced to deliver biased political indoctrination,” the group says in its “about us” section.
NC REPUBLICANS PUSH BILL TO TAKE AUTHORITY AWAY FROM GOVERNOR IN EMERGENCIES: The House voted along party lines Wednesday to limit a governor's power to enact the far-reaching shutdown orders Gov. Roy Cooper has put in place over the past 12 months in response to the coronavirus pandemic. House Bill 264 would require Cooper or any future governor to get approval from the Council of State, a group of 10 officials elected statewide, when ordering schools or large swaths of the economy to close, as Cooper did last spring in an effort to limit the spread of the virus. The governor would have up to seven days after issuing a shutdown order to seek the council's support, and the council would then have to reaffirm its support every 30 days after that. The requirement applies only for orders that affect at least two-thirds of North Carolina's 100 counties. Republican officials have frequently criticized Cooper's shutdown orders over the past year, questioning his goal in keeping everything from bars to schools closed for months and decrying the impact on the state economy, family finances and student learning. Lawmakers passed a slew of bills last summer to reopen gyms, bars, bowling alleys and other businesses, only to have Cooper veto them.
COOPER NOMINATES 1ST NATIVE AMERICAN WOMAN TO CABINET POST IN NC GOVERNMENT: Just weeks after President Joe Biden nominated the first-ever Native American woman to lead a cabinet department in the federal government, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper has done the same in North Carolina. Cooper announced Wednesday he has picked Pamela Brewington Cashwell to be the next head of the Department of Administration, which oversees logistics, contracts and much of the other behind-the-scenes work of making state government run. Cashwell currently works at the Department of Public Safety, where she has the titles of senior policy advisor and chief deputy secretary for professional standards, policy and planning. She has also held positions at the State Ethics Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice, including in the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division. Cashwell is Lumbee and Coharie, and went to UNC-Chapel Hill for both undergrad and law school, the governor’s office said in a press release. The Lumbee tribe is largely centered around Robeson County while the Coharie are centered around nearby Sampson and Harnett counties.
NAACP FILES LAWSUIT TO HAVE CONFEDERATE STATUE AT ALAMANCE COURTHOUSE REMOVED: Alamance County faces yet another lawsuit, this one to remove the Confederate monument from the front of the Historic Courthouse in Graham. The state and local NAACP, several other groups including business owners, individuals, and clergy members call the monument a danger to public safety and protecting it a waste of taxpayer money. They filed a lawsuit in Alamance County Superior Court on Tuesday, alleging that keeping the monument in a prominent place violates the state constitution by denying Black residents equal protection under the law, promoting racism and wasting public funds. It asks the court for an injunction to remove the statue and a judgment declaring state law does not prohibit the county from removing the monument and prohibiting the county from moving it to another location on county property. The monument has been the scene of assaults and altercations between groups of demonstrators and counter-demonstrators. It also draws neo-Confederate groups like ACTBAC and others from throughout the Southeast, increasing the risk of violence as tensions rise. It has also been the scene of arrests and the controversial pepper-spraying of demonstrators at the “I am Change” march on Oct. 31, over which the county is being sued in federal court.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE SET TO REVERSE TRUMP'S TRANSGENDER BAN: The Defense Department on Wednesday reversed a Trump-era ban restricting transgender troops from serving openly, outlining new policies that include greater access to medical care resources to help people transition while in uniform. The new Pentagon guidelines roll back 2019 Trump administration restrictions that severely limited how transgender people could enlist and serve. Soon after taking office, President Biden issued an executive order offering immediate protection for troops at risk of being forced out of the military, with the White House saying in a statement that “America is stronger, at home and around the world, when it is inclusive.” The policy takes effect April 30, defense officials said, after commanders receive guidance on implementation. The transgender military community celebrated the policy changes, and some advocates have heard that transgender people are already contacting recruiters to enlist, said Air Force Lt. Col. Bree Fram, the highest-ranking openly transgender officer in the Defense Department. “It was a challenge to operate in an environment when the official position was that we’re a burden on service,” said Fram, who spoke on behalf of SPART*A, an advocacy organization in which she serves as vice president. “We’re ready to get back to our mission, which is accomplishing the needs of our services and defending the country,” Fram said. The Pentagon has not made public any statistic on how many transgender troops may have left the military since the 2019 order took effect, but the agency is reviewing how many may have been forced out or denied reenlistment, Miller said. “We should avail ourselves of the best possible talent in our population, regardless of gender identity,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said in January after the Biden executive order was announced. “This is the right thing to do. It is also the smart thing to do.”