Archives for category: North Carolina

David Berliner, a distinguished scholar of American education, is writing a long essay about the dangers of public funding for religious schools. Currently numerous red states are considering proposal to expand vouchers and transfer more public funds to religious schools, typically without accountability. Their actions will overturn the historic tradition of separation of church and state. As the Pastors for Texas Children often say, that separation guarantees religious Liberty.

Berliner writes:

Public dollars for support of religious schools costs citizens billions of dollars annually, and ends up supporting some horrible things. A contemporary example of this is the criteria for entrance to the Fayetteville Christian School (FCS) in North Carolina. 

The Fayetteville Christian School is recipient, in a recent school year, of $495,966 of public money. They got this in the form of school vouchers that are used by students and their families to pay for the students religious schooling. The entrance requirements for this school, and other religious schools like it, frighten me, though they are clearly acceptable to North Carolinians. From their website, in 2020:1

“The student and at least one parent with whom the student resides must be in agreement with (our) Statement of Faith and have received Jesus Christ as their Savior. In addition, the parent and student must regularly (go to) a local church. (We) will not admit families that belong to or express faith in religions that deny the absolute Deity/Trinity of Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior and path to salvation. …. FCS will not admit families that engage in behaviors that Scripture defines as deviate and sin (illicit drug use, sexual promiscuity, homosexuality (LGBT), etc.)

Once admitted, if the student or parent/guardian with whom the student resides becomes involved in lifestyles contradictory to Biblical beliefs, we may choose to dis-enroll the student/family from the school.” 

[Retrieved February 8, 2021, from https://www.fayettevillechristian.com/copy-of-criteria-1

So, despite the receipt of public money, the Fayetteville Christian School is really notopen to the public at all! This school says, up front and clearly, that it doesn’t want and will not accept Jews, Muslims, Hindu’s, and many others. Further, although supported by public money, it will expel students for their family’s alleged “sins”. Is papa smoking pot? Expelled! Does your sibling have a homosexual relationship? Out! Has mama filed for divorce? You are gone! The admissions and dismissal policies of this school–receiving about a half million dollars of public funds per year–are scandalous. I’d not give them a penny! North Carolina legislators, and the public who elects them should all be embarrassed to ever say they are upholders of American democracy. They are not.

The Republicans who control the North Carolina legislature want to divert public funds to religious and private schools. This outright theft of public funds is cynically called a bill for “equity and opportunity,” although it will increase racial segregation, undermine equity, and subsidize students to attend schools of lesser quality than public schools.

At what point do these thieves of public money reveal their true motives and stop stealing the egalitarian language of public education? There is nothing egalitarian about their scheme to take money from public schools and transfer it to low-quality religious schools. Some of these schools will use racist textbooks. Some will exclude students whose parents are gay. Some will be attached to churches that teach snake-handling. Few will have certified teachers or meet any state standards. North Carolina Republicans don’t care about the future of their state. They prefer to subsidize low-quality schools instead of improving their public schools.


Kris Nordstrom of NC Policy Watch wrote this description of the legislation. It was shared with me by Public Schools First North Carolina:

HB32 would make five changes to the Opportunity Scholarship program:

1.     No prior public school enrollment requirement for entering second graders: Under current law, first-time voucher recipients had to previously been enrolled in a public school unless they are entering kindergarten or first grade. Under H32, applicants entering second grade would not have to have been previously enrolled in a public school. As a result, more vouchers will be provided to students who were already enrolled in a private school.

2.     Increase value of the voucher: Since its inception in FY 2014-15, the Opportunity Scholarship voucher has been capped at $4,200. Under HB32, the maximum voucher amount would be set to “70 percent of the average State per pupil allocation in the prior fiscal year.” The average state per pupil allocation is currently $6,586, implying a maximum voucher of more than $4,610 if, as proposed, this goes into effect for vouchers awarded in the 2022-23 school year. The maximum voucher value would then be bumped up to 80% of the average State per pupil allocation in the 2023-24 school year and beyond. This would permit vouchers of up to $5,269, given current state spending levels.

3.     Loosening of prior public school enrollment requirement in grades 3-12: HB32 would allow students entering grades 3-12 to also be eligible for a voucher even if they’re already enrolled in a private school, so long as they were in a public school in the preceding semester. For example, if a student started their school year in a public school, but transferred to a private school for the spring semester, they would still be eligible for a voucher in the subsequent school year. This change would first apply to vouchers awarded in the 2022-23 school year.

4.     Diversion of funds to marketing efforts: Since inception, the Opportunity Scholarship program has been overfunded. HB32 would divert $500,000 worth of unused funds to “a nonprofit corporation representing parents and families” to market the program in an effort to juice up demand. There are few (if any) organizations that would qualify for these funds beyond Parents for Educational Freedom in North Carolina. It is probably just a coincidence that PEFNC provided HB32 sponsor Rep. Hugh Blackwell with an all-expenses paid trip to Miami in 2012.

5.     Increase of administration funding. Under current law, the NC State Education Assistance Authority  may retain $1.5 million for administrating the Opportunity Scholarship program. Under HB32, they would be allowed to use up to 2.5% of appropriated funds. That equates to $2.1 million for FY 2021-22, rising to $3.6 million by FY 2027-28.

The bill also amends the state’s two other voucher programs: the Disabilities Grant voucher and Personal Education Savings Accounts vouchers.

The Disabilities Grant is a traditional voucher covering up to $8,000 per year for students with disabilities. Funds can be used for school tuition, as well as for related expenses such as therapy, tutoring and educational technology.

Under the Personal Education Savings Accounts, parents of qualifying children receive a debit card loaded with $9,000 to be spent on a wide range of education-related expenses.

HB32 makes the following changes:

1.     Merges the two programs and changes the name. The combined program would be called Personal Education Student Accounts.

2.     Expands eligibility. Currently, students must have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) to qualify for either program. Under HB32, eligibility would also be extended to students with 504 plans, which broadens the allowable disabilities. Students would also be eligible even if they are already enrolled in college, so long as they are taking less than 12 credits per year.

3.     Different awards and carry-forward rules. If a student is affected by autism, hearing impairment, moderate or severe intellectual or developmental disability, multiple, permanent orthopedic impairments, or visual impairment, they qualify for a higher award amount and may carry-forward up to $4,500 of unspent funds to the next fiscal year. These students will get $17,000 on their debit cards. Other disabled students’ awards are based on a percentage of per-student funding provided in the prior year. Based on 2020-21 funding levels, the award would be $9,549. These students would not be permitted to carry forward unspent funds.

4.     Eligibility verification relaxed. Currently the State Education Assistance Authority is required to verify eligibility of 6% of applicants each year. That requirement would be removed under HB32.

5.     Additional skimming of funds by financial companies. HB32 would permit the charging of “transaction or merchant fees” of up to 2.5% of all spending.

6.     Forward-funds the program and creates guaranteed funding increases through FY 2031-32. Under HB32, appropriations for Personal Education Savings Accounts would be made to a reserve account to forward-fund vouchers in the subsequent fiscal year. Additionally, funding would increase $1 million annually through FY 2031-32, increasing total funding by 62%. Voucher programs are the only education programs with guaranteed funding increases beyond FY 2021-22.

Finally, the bill would permit county governments to contribute to either of the voucher programs. Counties would be able to appropriate up to $1,000 per every child in the county who receives a voucher and attends a private school in the county. These funds would be used to increase the size of student vouchers rather than increase the number of vouchers awarded.

Fiscal impact of Opportunity Scholarship changes

If HB32 becomes law, it would be the second consecutive year of rapid expansion of the Opportunity Scholarship program to divert additional state funding to students who were already planning to go to a private school. During the 2020 legislative session, the General Assembly expanded the program’s income eligibility requirements and removed limits on awards to students entering Kindergarten and first grade. These changes are expected to cost the state approximately $272 million over the next 10 years.

The changes proposed under H3B2 would add $159 million to these costs over the next nine years.

North Carolina adopted a new social studies curriculum, despite the efforts of the newly elected Lieutenant Governor to remove any references to “systemic racism.”

(CNN)The North Carolina State Board of Education has passed a new standard for teaching social studies that will include a more diverse perspective of history.

The board added language for educators to teach about racism, discrimination and the treatment of marginalized groups. But due to pushback from some lawmakers, the new standard does not include the word “systemic” before racism and discrimination or the word “gender” before identity. 

The new standards passed in a 7-5 vote on Thursday, but only after State Board Superintendent Catherine Truitt removed the two words. 

“For nearly two years, the Department has worked to create consensus among hundreds of educators and stakeholders statewide over the history standards. I’m disappointed there was not a unanimous vote on these standards today because the Department of Public Instruction and the State Board of Education created them to be both inclusive and encompassing,” Truitt said.

Truitt also added a preamble stating, “The North Carolina Board of Education believes that our collective social studies standards must reflect the nation’s diversity and that the successes, contributions, and struggles of multiple groups and individuals should be included.”

According to the preamble, this means teaching the hard truths of Native American oppression, anti-Catholicism, exploitation of child labor and Jim Crow.”Our human failings have at times taken the form of racism, xenophobia, nativism, extremism, and isolationism. We need to study history in order to understand how these situations developed, the harmful impact they caused, and the forces and actors that sometimes helped us move beyond these outcomes,” the preamble said.

The measure was opposed by several Republican members of the State Board who said the new standards presented an overly negative picture of the nation’s history.Among those opposed was Mark Robinson, the first Black lieutenant governor of the state.

“I do not believe we live in a systemically racist nation, nor have we ever lived in a systemically racist nation,” Robinson said. Robinson voted against the standards even after the word “systemic” was removed and said that enough people in the state have questions and concerns about the standards and they needed to go back to the drawing board.

Stuart Egan, an NBCT teacher in North Carolina, was upset by the statements made by the newly elected Lieutenant Governor’s claim that “systemic racism” is a myth, and that anyone who teaches otherwise is wrong. In other words, writes Egan, the Lt. Governor wants to indoctrinate students into a fake version of history, in which people of color were never discriminated against as a matter of law and custom. That’s fake history.

A few days ago, I published a list of states that are considering new legislation to defund their public schools while expanding the corporate charter sector and increasing the funding of vouchers for failing religious schools.

One state was inexplicably left off that list of infamy: North Carolina.

A bill has been filed in that state peppered with words like “equity” and “opportunity,” a typical ruse to divert attention from the main purpose of the bill: privatization of public funds and defunding of public schools.

Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly want more public money to flow to unregulated and unaccountable private and religious schools, which are free to use any curriculum they want, free to hire unqualified teachers, free to kick out or exclude students they don’t want, for any reason. Such schools are not subject to federal regulations securing the civil rights of their students. They are not subject to the state’s accountability system that applies to public schools. They are free to discriminate against students they don’t want.

Thomas Ultican has written a series of posts about attacks on public schools and their federal, state, and local funding streams. During this awful pandemic, most parents, teachers, and students have recognized that depersonalized remote learning is no substitute for real teachers. Nonetheless, the edtech industry continues to promote its products, which in most cases are intended to substitute for live teachers.

Especially concerning to Ultican is that the edtech industry has gained a strong foothold within the inner circle of the Biden campaign. A committee appointed by the campaign to advise the incoming administration was packed with edtech privateers and profiteers. The last thing that educators, parents and students want or need right now is a re-emphasis on digital learning.

Ultican is especially concerned about a corporation called digiLEARN, launched by former North Carolina Governor Bev Purdue, which was funded by…who else?…the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

To do the heavy lifting at digiLEARN, Purdue brought in her advisor on e-learning and innovation, Myra Best. Prior to joining the Governor’s office, Best served as Director of the Business Education Technology Alliance (BETA) which established North Carolina’s first statewide Virtual Public School. BETA was a committee of 27 business, political and education leaders established by the North Carolina General Assembly in 2002. The chair of the committee was Lieutenant Governor Bev Perdue...

digiLEARN lined up heavy hitters in the edtech industry:

In 1997, the vice chair, Jim Geringer, was one of the governors who established the non-profit Western Governors University in Salt Lake City. It was an early adopter of cyber education and competency based education. In a lengthy interview for the Wyoming State archives, Geringer spoke glowingly about the school and its methods.

The membership of the first digiLEARN board of governors made it clear that it was politically connected and aligned with the goals of the edtech industry. In addition to Geringer and Perdue former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise became a founding director on the board.

In 2010, Jeb Bush and Bob Wise launched the Digital Learning Council which promoted cyber schooling and “personalized learning.” In 2015, North Carolina State University honored Wise at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation’s Friday Medal presentation. The institute notes, “The Friday Medal is awarded annually in honor of William C. Friday to recognize significant, distinguished and enduring contributions to education and beyond through advocating innovation, advancing education and imparting inspiration.”

Besides the three ex-governors, two North Carolina State Representatives – Craig Horn and Joe Tolson – were on the original board. Also on the board was one of edtech industries most widely published advocates, Tom Vander Ark…

Billionaires like Bill Gates, Michael Bloomberg and Laurene Jobs Powell have spent lavishly to create an education publishing group to get out their message of school choice and edtech. Both Perdue and Vander Ark are regular contributors to The 74 Million and Perdue is featured at The Education Post. One of her early posts for Education Post was “A Nation At Risk 2.0.” In it Perdue echoed the calamity rhetoric of 1983’s “A Nation At Risk” declaring, “Right now, alarm bells should be clanging all over America louder than they were for President Reagan and business leaders more than 30 years ago.” She was decrying the slow implementation of edtech in schools...

Prompted by an article I had written about North Carolina being ravaged with edtech spending, a profoundly shaken person contacted me to share their experience on Biden’s Education Policy Commission. As the new administration prepares to take charge, many groups are meeting to develop an agenda to move America forward.  

In the Education Policy Commission, there was a tech sub-committee chaired by Bev Perdue. Reportedly the sub-committee had a large North Carolina contingent including Myra Best. There were twenty members on the committee and at least seventeen of them were edtech supporters. Many members were people with backgrounds like former Amazon web-services director.

The committees attitude toward student privacy was unacceptable especially their positions on sharing data. My source described the sub-committee as the proverbial “foxes in the hen house.”

Edtech can be a wonderful thing for students and educators, but if the point is to make large profits off data and replace teachers with digital screens, edtech becomes a great evil. Unfortunately, Bev Perdue and digiLEARN are promoting the evil brand of edtech. Let’s hope the incoming administration can successfully filter out this tainted input.

Given what America’s parents, teachers, and students have learned about edtech during the pandemic, the Biden team should be wary about taking the advice of its leading lobbyists.

In 2012, Tennessee created the “Achievement School District” (ASD) and promised that it would catapult the state’s lowest performing schools into high-performing schools. So confident were state leaders that they hired Chris Barbic, who ran a celebrated charter chain in Houston, and he was confident that the state’s weakest schools could be transformed within five years by handing them over to charter operators. Other states were excited by the idea and created their own state takeover districts.

The ASD failed, even though it was funded by $100 million in Race to the Top money. But Tennessee refuses to accept that taking over struggling schools and giving them to charter operators is a bad idea.

The North Carolina Policy Watch reported on Tennessee’s insistence on protecting failure. North Carolina created an “Innovative School District,” modeled on the ASD.

Greg Childress writes:

The state-run school district in Tennessee, the one on which this state’s Innovative School District (ISD) is modeled, has failed.

According to reports out of Tennessee, the Achievement School District (ASD), is working on a plan to return 30 ASD schools in Memphis and Nashville to their local districts by 2022.

State officials in Tennessee contend the district, which was established in 2012 to improve achievement in low-performing schools, “grew too quickly” and that “demand outpaced supply and capacity.”

Still, Tennessee officials aren’t giving up on the ASD. They’re billing the new proposal as a “reset” of the district, which has fallen short of its goals to move low-performing schools from the bottom 5 percent and into the top 25 percent.

Most ASD schools were handed over to charter school operators after being pulled from local districts.

“The Achievement School District remains a necessary intervention in Tennessee’s school framework when other local interventions have proven to be unsuccessful in improving outcomes for students,” officials said in a presentation obtained by Chalkbeat.

“The Commercial Appeal” in Memphis reports that most of the schools remain in the bottom 5 percent and that several have closed due to low enrollment. Teacher retention has also been a major challenge, the paper reports.

Tennessee school officials plan to stand by their Big Idea, even though its failure is clear even to them.

North Carolina’s “Innovative School District” has not fared any better. Although the state wanted the ISD to be a major reform effort, like the ASD, only one school entered the new district. NC had other low-performing schools, but whenever one was told to join the ISD, its leaders ran to their elected officials and got exempted.

To put it mildly, NC’s ISD has “struggled to get off the ground.”

Childress writes:

After only one year, state officials made wholesale leadership changes at ISD. The ISD got a new superintendent, the lone ISD school got a new principal and a new president was hired to lead the private firm that manages the school.

James Ellerbe, the ISD superintendent hired in July, reported this week that there are 69 schools on the state’s 2019 qualifying list, meaning the low-performing schools are at risk of being swept into the ISD.

The ISD will bring only one school into the state-run district next year. The school with the lowest performance score among Title I schools in the bottom 5 percent will be brought into the ISD.

The ISD was approved in 2016 by state lawmakers even though the ASD had showed little signs of success after being in business four years.

Not only is the NC ISD based on a failed model, its one school has both a principal and a superintendent!

All of which leaves unanswered question, why do failed reforms never die?


Justin Parmenter, an NBCT teacher in North Carolina, published this article in the Charlotte Observer.

As COVID-19 rates skyrocket in North Carolina and more educators lose their lives to the virus, an unmistakable trend is starting to emerge: school districts falling all over themselves to claim the infected employee didn’t get the virus at work.

When Stanly County teacher Julie Davis died last month, superintendent Vicki Calvert quickly issued a statement saying, “there is no information from the local health department indicating Mrs. Davis contracted the COVID-19 virus from any staff member or student on campus.” 

Davis’s family spoke of her extreme vigilance in avoiding situations where infections could occur, wearing a mask whenever out of the house and doing all of her shopping by curbside and drive-through. She was apprehensive about returning to school because of the increased risk but did so anyway.

Julie Davis got sick at the end of September and passed away on October 4. Her brother said Davis was convinced she got the virus at school. A student who attended the school (not one of hers) had tested positive, and she was unaware of any other time she would have been in the same space with someone who had COVID-19.

Just a week after Davis passed away, Stanly County Schools was forced to close to in-person instruction due to out-of-control COVID-19 infections in the community and in the schools.

The school’s superintendent said school officials didn’t believe Ward contracted the virus at work. However, her daughter said, “We don’t really know [where she got the virus] because she never really went out. She definitely wore her mask, she definitely hand sanitized. She did everything the CDC told us to.”

On Monday, Winston-Salem teacher assistant Teresa Gaither passed away after serving students at Easton Elementary for 23 years. A school spokesman wouldn’t confirm the cause but was eager to explain that she didn’t get it at work, saying, “At this time, the Forsyth County Department of Public Health has given WS/FCS no indication that Ms. Gaither’s cause of death was related to her employment.” Her colleagues confirmed that Gaither died of COVID-19.

In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, where the district has just begun reporting COVID-19 infections by school, a WBTV report this week said school officials “do not believe students and staff are testing positive because they are back inside the classroom. They say students (and) staff and getting sick from circumstances outside of the school.” 

Here’s what public relations-minded school districts are implying when they claim that a COVID-19 infection had nothing to do with school: Somewhere, somehow that individual made a careless error which led to their illness. It had nothing to do with insufficient safety protocols, asymptomatic carriers, or a lack of resources.

There’s nothing to see here, folks. Mask up and wash your hands, everyone. Just lean in and we’ll be fine.

Could we please have the decency to admit that, in many of these cases, we have no idea where they got it? While it is possible these educators contracted the virus outside of school, it’s just as likely that they didn’t. We simply don’t know.

What we do know about this virus is that the only way to truly stay safe from it is to avoid crowded public places, perform regular disinfection and ensure proper ventilation and clean air flow when we must share space with others. Those conditions are hard to come by in a public school.

These educators who have lost their lives during the pandemic have been forced to choose between increasing their risk of infection by returning to in-person instruction and not being able to feed their kids or pay their mortgage.

Many of our educators have been vocal in calling for a return to school only when we can be reasonably certain it’s safe, with maximum social distancing, effective contact tracing, safe HVAC systems and sufficient staff. In far too many cases they’ve been forced back to the classrooms they love with none of those things.

In light of their dedication to serving our children despite a raging pandemic, it’s the least we can do to stop blaming our educators for getting COVID-19.


Read more here: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/opinion/article247165609.html#storylink=cpy

Thomas Ultican took a close look at spending on education technology in North Carolina and was shocked by what he learned.

He begins:

A North Carolina cabal of school superintendents, politicians, consultants and technology companies has gone wild over the past seven years. In Chapel Hill, Education Elements obtained an illegitimate $767,000 contract. Chapel Hill-Carborro City Hills Schools (CHCCS) Assistant Superintendent of Business and Finance, Jennifer Bennett, supposedly ignored school board policy and agreed to the contract in secret. It seems that when the state and local schools are spending on education technology, policies and law are being ignored.

After the Education Elements negotiations, Bennett sent a message to their Managing Partner, Jason Bedford, saying, “Need to get you guys to modify the [contract] if you can since if we include the whole potential payment value, then we have to take this to the Board since over our $90K threshold ….” This seems very damning, however, local citizens think they are being gas lighted. In the comments section on the school boards web site, several parents expressed the same opinion as parent Jeff Safir who wrote,

“I find it hard to believe that Jennifer Bennett acted alone and was the only person aware of the money being spent on the Education Elements engagement and I don’t understand why she is able to serve out the rest of her contract in an alternate capacity when the position is at-will ….”

Education Elements was created with funding from NewSchools Venture fund and a four other venture capital groups that invest in education startups. As noted in a previous article, “There are few districts in America that do not have a deeper bench when it comes to education theory, practical application and leadership talent than Education Elements.”  In agreement with this point, parent Kavita Rajagopal wrote,

“There is zero information as to exactly what our taxpayer dollars even bought from EdElements. I have spoken to numerous (double digits) teachers and not a single one found the training to be novel or particularly eye opening. Why are there no teachers at the table?”

Particularly galling to CHCCS parents is the fact that 20 of 40 teaching assistants working in special education were let go at the same time this contract was consummated. Parent Payal Perera wrote, “I was appalled to learn that the EC support staff funding was cut, while $750K was available for these other things!”…

It is not just North Carolina school districts ignoring past practices, policies and laws concerning education technology spending. In 2018, Mark Johnson, the Republican Superintendent of Schools, led a group of three local politicians and two superintendents of schools on an all expense paid junket to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Seven months later, Johnson announced a $6.6 million I-pad contract to supply the devices to North Carolina public school students in kindergarten through third grade. It was a no-bid contract that bypassed the state Department of Information Technology.

Johnson has great connections but he is not qualified to lead schools. In 2016, 33-years-old Mark Johnson became North Carolina’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. He garnered 50.6% of the vote besting his opponents 49.4% tally.

The young lawyer vacated his position as corporate counsel at Inmar, an international technology company, where he had worked for three years to take the Superintendent’s position. His only training and experience in education was a two year temp teacher stint with Teach For America (TFA).

Although he clearly lacked the qualifications of Professor June Atkinson, the incumbent, several billionaires including Arthur Rock, Michael Bloomberg, Jonathan Sackler and Steuart Walton contributed heavily to his campaign.

In 2016, Johnson also received support from the Leadership for Education Equity (LEE) PAC. It supports TFA alumni running for office. The Silicon Valley billionaire, Arthur Rock, is a board member of LEE along with Michael Bloomberg’s daughter Emma. 

There’s more, much more, and it’s all unsavory.

This is an outrage. Trump’s Brownshirts harass the Biden campaign, engage in voter intimidation, block major thoroughfares—without penalty.

Now this:

GRAHAM, N.C. — The voters came in black sweatshirts emblazoned with the mantra of the late Georgia congressman and civil rights icon John Lewis, who celebrated “good trouble.”


Fists and iPhones raised, they chanted “Black lives matter” and promised “power to the people,” as they made their way from a Black church to the base of a monument to a Confederate soldier. In its shadow, they paused for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, honoring George Floyd, the Black man killed by a Minneapolis police officer who knelt on his neck for what was later determined to be 7 minutes and 46 seconds.


The participants in Saturday’s “I Am Change” march had intended to conclude at an early-voting site to emphasize turnout in the final days of the presidential campaign.

Those plans were thrown into disarray when law-enforcement officers in riot gear and gas masks insisted demonstrators move off the street and clear county property, despite a permit authorizing their presence.


As tensions escalated, officers deployed pepper spray and began making arrests. Among those caught in clouds of the irritant were children as young as 3 years old, as well as elderly residents and a disabled woman, said participants in the march.


The episode, which was live-streamed on Facebook by the march’s organizer, the Rev. Greg Drumwright of nearby Greensboro, unfolded three days before an election that feels to many Americans like the edge of an abyss. It capped nearly a half-year of protests after the killing of Floyd. And it reflected efforts to channel indignation on the street into power at the ballot box in North Carolina, a critical battleground state, and other places deciding the country’s direction.


“

The world wants to know what’s going on in Alamance County,” Drumwright said, invoking the rallying cry of anti-Vietnam War activists.
His outrage was echoed by state and national leaders, including North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D), who called the incident “unacceptable.”

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law described the police response as a form of voter suppression.
In a statement, the Graham Police Department said its officers had made eight arrests, arguing that force had been justified by the refusal of demonstrators to disperse after the gathering had “reached a level of conduct that led to the rally being deemed unsafe and unlawful by unified command.”


The department also defended the deployment of what it called a “pepper-based vapor,” saying its officers did not “directly spray any participant in the march” — an account at odds with the statements of numerous participants.


The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office issued a one-line tweet, saying, “Unfortunately the rally in Graham ended due to concerns for the safety of all.” The office has previously faced scrutiny for what the Justice Department in 2012 called “discriminatory policing,” leading to a civil rights lawsuit against Terry S. Johnson, the county sheriff.

After a Republican-appointed federal judge dismissed the suit, federal prosecutors agreed to drop the case in exchange for revisions. Since then, Johnson has twice won reelection, both times running unopposed.


In August, a U.S. district judge in the Middle District of North Carolina blocked county officials, including Johnson, from prohibiting protests in certain areas around the county courthouse in response to a lawsuit brought by the Lawyers’ Committee and the state branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.

I have written in the past about why Jen Mangrum would be a superb State Superintendent in North Carolina. She is an experienced teacher and teacher educator. She knows what teachers need to succeed. She has been endorsed by the state teachers’ association. She is also courageous. In 2018, she ran against the most powerful state legislator, Phil Berger.

Now a few words about her opponent, Catherine Truitt. North Carolina teacher Justin Parmenter reveals that Truitt received the maximum allowable donation from a millionaire who hates public schools and teachers. He has founded a string of charter and private schools. He thinks that public schools are hotbeds of Marxism where teachers “feed poison” to their students.

Follow the money. Vote for Jen Mangrum.