Archives for category: North Carolina

Catherine Truitt, the Republican Superintendent of Public Instruction in North Carolina sneered at critical thinking, as she put forth her own definition of what education is for.

North Carolina teacher Stuart Egan wrote:

A Little Soma Made in 1984 Cooked At F451 Degrees For You? Why Every Teacher Should Be Insulted By State Superintendent Truitt’s Words

“Cram them full of noncombustible data, chock them so full of ‘facts’ they feel stuffed, but absolutely ‘brilliant’ with information. Then they’ll feel they’re thinking, they’ll get a sense of motion without moving. And they’ll be happy, because facts of that sort don’t change.”

– FAHRENHEIT 451

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which [leaders] control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.”

– ALDOUS HUXLEY, AUTHOR OF BRAVE NEW WORLD

“The ideal set up by the Party was something huge, terrible, and glittering—a world of steel and concrete, of monstrous machines and terrifying weapons—a nation of warriors and fanatics, marching forward in perfect unity, all thinking the same thoughts and shouting the same slogans, perpetually working, fighting, triumphing, persecuting—three hundred million people all with the same face.”

– 1984

“We’ve got to redefine what the purpose of K-12 education is. Some would say it’s to produce critical thinkers. But my team and I believe that the purpose of a public K-12 education is to prepare students for post-secondary plans of their choice so that they can be a functioning member of the workforce.”

– STATE SUPERINTENDENT CATHERINE TRUITT, JANUARY 6TH, 2022

That last statement is a hell of a statement from the top ranking official for public education in the state – especially that part about free thinking.

In her short tenure as state super, Truitt has said many things to insult teachers, demean advocacy for public schools, and belittle the profession.

This is the most insulting – not just because as a teacher my job is to help students become critical thinkers, but as a parent of young lady who has graduated from public schools and a son about to enter high school, I don’t want the person who makes the biggest decisions about our schools to think of my children (and others’ children) as “functional members of the workforce.”

It’s almost like saying that our job as public school teachers is to create good workers for those who can profit from them.

Writing in “PoliticsNC,” Alexander H. Jones was incredulous. He wrote:

In my years of following state politics, I have heard North Carolina Republicans say stupid, outrageous, incomprehensible and otherwise foolish things. Pat McCrory said Caitlin Jenner would have to use the men’s shower if she ran track at UNC-Chapel Hill. Larry Pittman and others declared that the State of North Carolina has a right to nullify U.S. Supreme Court decisions within its borders. And so forth. But nothing I have heard echoing out of right-wing avenue was more utterly discrediting to a public servant than what DPI leader Catherine Truitt recently said about the purpose of K-12 education. Read on, if you can stomach it.

““We’ve got to redefine what the purpose of K-12 education is,” she declared. “Some would say it’s to produce critical thinkers. But my team and I believe that the purpose of a public K-12 education is to prepare students for the post-secondary plans of their choice so that they can be a functioning member of the workforce.” In one quick stroke, the leader of public education in North Carolina discounted and disparaged critical thinking, the foundation of an enlightened citizenry. In saying this she definitively sided with the forces of political authoritarianism and capitalist plunder, the two great foes of the American experiment that have always fought against liberal education.

Open the link and read the rest of his post.

The North Carolina Supreme Court dealt a legal blow to charter schools. It ruled that they are not immune from civil suits, as public schools are. This punches a hole in the charter industry’s claim that they are ”public schools” but under private management.

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The North Carolina Supreme Court ruled on Friday that nonprofit charter schools can’t avoid facing civil fraud claims alleging mismanagement of taxpayer money by arguing they are immune from such lawsuits like a state agency.

The justices reversed a 2019 Court of Appeals decision that had dismissed claims against Kinston Charter Academy, which closed abruptly to 190 students and their teachers in 2013. A 2016 lawsuit by then-Attorney General Roy Cooper sought financial damages for the state and monetary penalties against the academy, its CEO and the chair of its board

Kinston Charter Academy and leaders were accused by Cooper’s office of violating the state’s False Claims Act and deceptive trade laws. State attorneys allege the school provided a bogus upgraded enrollment estimate to state education officials that meant receiving additional funds, even as leaders knew the school would not last the 2013-14 school year.

Academy CEO Ozie Hall and his wife, board leader Demyra McDonald-Hall, unsuccessfully sought to get the lawsuit dismissed by a Wake County trial judge. They in turn asked the Court of Appeals to step in, saying the academy was protected from liability under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, which exempts state government from most lawsuits unless an agency consents to be sued.

A three-judge panel of the intermediate appeals court agreed with the academy, saying it was entitled to such immunity and that it didn’t fit the definition of a “person” who is the target of state litigation under the False Claims Act.

Associate Justice Sam Ervin IV, writing the lone opinion for the Supreme Court, emphasized that the General Assembly declined to describe charter schools as agencies of the state in the law authorizing them in the 1990s, but rather entities that “operate independently of existing schools….”

“The obvious purpose of the False Claims Act is to ensure that public funds are spent in the manner for which they were intended instead of being misappropriated, misspent or misused,” he wrote, while reversing most of the Court of Appeals decisions. The Supreme Court did uphold the Court of Appeals ruling that Ozie Hall cannot be dismissed from the complaint for now on claims that he was immune as a public official. The case, which now returns to Wake County court, has not gone to trial.

The academy, which had struggled financially for years, enrolled barely half of the 366 students that it had estimated it would enroll in fall 2013, contributing to an overpayment by the state of more than $344,000, Friday’s opinion reads. The lawsuit also alleged students were misled into thinking the school would remain open.

Ever since Republicans in North Carolina took control of the General Assembly (legislature) in 2010, they have tried to diminish the state’s responsibility for the common good or to extinguish it altogether. No institution has suffered as much by their hostility as the public schools.

NC Policy Watch is an outstanding source of information about the state. It recently reported about the General Assembly’s refusal to obey a court order to rectify the unconstitutional funding of the public schools, which is grossly inequitable. The historic ruling was the Leandro case, and Republicans have offered charters and vouchers instead of equitable and adequate funding. Now they are rumbling about impeaching the judge who told them to fix the funding.

Despite multiple judicial determinations that the state’s K-12 schools are unconstitutionally deficient, the Republican politicians – including, last week, a pair of appellate court judges – say that no court can order the legislature to actually fix the problem.

According to the judges in question, state courts have “no authority to order the appropriation of monies to satisfy any execution of [the Leandro] judgment.”

In effect, they argue, 25-plus years of trials, expert witness testimony, findings, rulings, appeals and remedy planning were all just a meaningless exercise in pushing paper. When it gets right down to it, the power to decide whether to make our K-12 schools constitutional remains right where it’s always been – at the whim of state legislative leaders who are the chief authors of the current failed system.

And just in case anyone had any doubts about the complete power they claim to wield (or had any inkling to question it), GOP lawmakers are firing some unmistakable warning shots designed to intimidate naysayers.

In concert with right-wing allies, lawmakers have sent the clear and appalling message in recent days (see item #8 of the recently adopted adjournment resolution) that they are considering the extraordinary (and deeply treacherous) step of impeaching Superior Court Judge David Lee – the visionary and courageous jurist who has been seeking to enforce the Leandro ruling and make it real.

Five members of the white-nationalist “Proud Boys” showed up at the New Hanover County School Board meeting, dressed up in their organization’s colors.

They did not speak, but they gave a standing ovation to anyone who spoke against the mask mandate.

Ironically, the meeting occurred on November 10, the same date as the infamous “Wilmington Massacre” of 1898.

NPR wrote about this sordid episode in North Carolina’s history.

On Nov. 10, 1898, a mob descended on the offices of The Daily Record, a Black-owned newspaper in Wilmington, N.C. The armed men then moved into the streets and opened fire as Black men fled for their lives.

Finally, the rabble seized control of the racially mixed city government. It expelled Black aldermen, installed unelected whites belonging to the then-segregationist Democratic Party and published a “White Declaration of Independence.” Historians have called it a coup d’etat. The number of people who died ranges from about 60 to as many as 250, according to some estimates.

Will teachers in North Carolina be allowed to teach about the Wilmington Massacre, or will they be punished for teaching “critical race theory”?

Check the candidates’ bona fides carefully.

Don’t be fooled!

People in the North Carolina Chapel Hill Carrboro School District should vote for these three pro-public school candidates in this order:


1. Riza Jenkins

2. George Griffin

3. Mike Sharp

This is very important. Read why here.
https://indyweek.com/news/orange/meredith-pruitts-campaign-for-chccs-board-of-education-raises-concerns-among-local-voters-and-could-reflect-nationwide-trend/

The editorial board of the Charlotte Observer wrote about the state government’s failed search for “indoctrination” in the schools.


Charlotte Observer Editorial Board: North Carolina’s indoctrination-in-schools witchhunt was a big, embarrassing dud

North Carolina’s Lt. Governor Mark Robinson launched a witch hunt for teachers and schools “indoctrinating” students. But when  they released their report, the Charlotte Observer was less than impressed.

Lt. Gov Mark Robinson’s investigation of indoctrination in North Carolina schools landed with a loud thud Tuesday, despite the efforts of him and other N.C. Republicans. The probe, which Robinson has long promised would show “proof” of widespread indoctrination in classrooms, instead affirmed something more troubling — politicians trying to intimidate educators based on a false premise of classroom brainwashing.

Teachers will recognize what Robinson delivered Tuesday — a report with a lot of dressing and little meat. It’s the term paper of a student who didn’t do the work and didn’t have much to offer. It was a dud.

Robinson, of course, did his best to claim otherwise — as did Republicans who seemed to be half-heartedly rallying to his support. In an email to constituents, Senate leader Phil Berger couldn’t even bring himself to say that the report showed widespread indoctrination in N.C. schools, instead saying that parents and teachers disagree with Democrats who say “CRT-linked” doctrine doesn’t exist. (Note the goalpost moving going on – from early GOP claims of Critical Race Theory being taught in NC classrooms to now pointing out the mere existence of something resembling CRT in some places.)

Republicans and Robinson, however, would prefer that N.C. students aren’t exposed to topics that don’t conform with the GOP worldview. The Lt. Governor’s report is designed to provide political cover for a Republican bill that would regulate how teachers talk about race and history in classrooms. Such a bill would likely be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper, but it will set up a political fight Republicans appear to think will benefit them.

It’s a cynical sideshow that distracts from real issues our schools are confronting, and it’s one more way Republicans can say public schools are failing instead of truly addressing how to help them succeed. What’s going on is politics, not indoctrination, and it has had an unnecessarily chilling effect on teachers, making them self-conscious about what they say in class. That makes an already demanding job more stressful and less rewarding, and that’s not good for North Carolina’s schools or their students.

Read the full editorial here.

You can view the post at this link : https://networkforpubliceducation.org/blog-content/charlotte-observer-editorial-board-north-carolinas-indoctrination-in-schools-witchhunt-was-a-big-embarrassing-dud/

Renee Sekel is a parent and public school advocate in North Carolina. She sends her children to public schools. She remembers when she naively believed that the state’s legislators supported public schools. Then the budget cuts started coming. Then charters. Then vouchers. Now, she says, public schools are in a race against time.

She wrote:

Four years ago, both Republicans and Democrats in North Carolina at least made a show of claiming to support public education, even as the legislature slashed budgets and passed one policy after another aimed at undermining public schools. What worries me today is how that rhetoric has shifted. Our Republican leaders now openly acknowledge that they are hostile to public education and would prefer to replace public schools with a voucher system. I know that the vast majority of North Carolinians from all across the political spectrum support public schools, but increasingly it feels like we’re in a race against time, trying to get citizens to understand that our schools are under attack. If it becomes orthodoxy in the GOP that public schools are anathema, and a critical mass is convinced that the schools their children attended−that they attended−should be destroyed, there is no going back.

Republican leaders in North Carolina, who hold a majority in the General Assembly, but not the Governorship, suspect that liberal teachers are “indoctrinating” their students. Since they won control of the legislature, Republicans have passed legislation for charters and vouchers and displayed an animus for public schools and their teachers. Does it occur to them that the citizens of NC would not have elected them if they were “indoctrinated”?

The parent group Public Schools First NC summarized a recent press conference.

This week, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson was joined by Sens. Deanna Ballard, Phil Berger & Michael Lee & State Supt Catherine Trait at his Tuesday press conference for the release of the “Indoctrination in North Carolina Public Education Report.” These leaders claim that there is widespread indoctrination occurring in public school classrooms across the state. Many public education advocates say the report does not contain substantive or reliable evidence of such assertions. HB324 was written in response to claims of indoctrination and limits what can be taught in classrooms. The bill passed in the Senate this week. All Republicans voted yes, while all Democrats voted no. The bill was then sent to the Governor’s desk. If he vetoes the bill as expected, it will be returned to the legislators who do not appear to be enough votes to overturn the Governor’s veto. Nevertheless, the narrative around the passing of HB324 has increased the strife among educators, parents, and their legislators and is not improving the many financial needs of our schools nor the need for more educators in the classroom. Its impact has been largely negative during this first week of school when larger issues need addressed. Many fear this is another way to undermine and erode our community’s support of our public schools.

According to a statement by the Public School Forum of NC, “A growing body of research demonstrates that inclusive teaching practices that connect academic concepts to the everyday lives and experiences of their students can improve students’ academic outcomes, attendance, brain processing, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills; promote feelings of safety and belonging; and can increase engagement and motivation.”

Legislation that will inhibit the teaching of important concepts including inequity and systemic oppression will not change hard history. Further, this assertion that teachers are indoctrinating their students is simply untrue. “Most educators say that CRT itself isn’t taught in K-12 public schools. Nevertheless, conservative supporters of the bill contend that CRT is at the root of efforts by some teachers to indoctrinate students with what they contend is a liberal political ideology.” See an excellent and more in depth discussion of HBO 324 here.

Teaching history from multiple viewpoints should never be a political issue. We ought to trust and respect educators and know they can hold challenging conversations in their classrooms while respecting differences of opinion. We hope you will take the time to contact your legislators and share your views on this bill.

Greg Childress of NC Policy Watch reports that a government watchdog group has lodged a complaint against one of the state’s most powerful elected officials.

Rep. John Torbett, chair of the House K-12 Education Committee and the Education Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations failed to acknowledge that his wife serves on the board of a state-funded charter school.

He writes:

Rep. John Torbett, chairman of the state’s influential House Education K-12 Committee, is the target of a Legislative Ethics Committee complaint alleging the Gaston County Republican failed to disclose that his wife serves on a charter school board that receives state funding.

The complaint was filed this week by Bob Hall, the retired executive director of Democracy North Carolina, a voting rights and government watchdog group.

Viddia Torbett is also her husband’s legislative assistant.

Hall contends Torbett should have disclosed on 2020 and 2021 statements of economic interest (SEI) that his wife, Viddia Torbett, is vice-chairwoman of the board of directors of Community Public Charter School in Stanley. The school is affiliated with the Community Pentecostal Center.

“The failure of Rep. [John] Torbett to disclose his wife’s position on the School’s board of directors is all the more important because Rep. [John] Torbett is now the chair of the House Committee on K-12 Education and is chair of the Education Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, i.e., two positions where he has significant influence over policy and funding of charter schools and public education,” Hall said in the complaint.

Torbett was first elected to the House in 2010. He was assigned to the Education K-12 Committee and the Appropriations on Education Committee to start the current legislative session. Torbett chairs both committees.

“You’ve got a powerful legislator with a personal bias or a personal interest in the financial solvency of a charter school, so he’s got a conflict between serving the public and serving his own personal interest,” Hall said in an interview with Policy Watch. “That ought to be disclosed if not him recusing himself from involvement in the funding of charter schools.”

Anyone subject to the State Government Ethics Act must file an SEI prior to being appointed, employed or elected, by April 15 of each year. That covers roughly 6,500 people, including appointed officials and elected members of the General Assembly…

This week’s complaint against Torbett isn’t the first Hall has filed against the lawmaker.

Last October, Hall filed a complaint alleging that Torbett and Josh Dobson, a former state representative who was elected state Commissioner of Labor last November, were inappropriately collecting thousands of dollars from the General Assembly for lodging in Raleigh even though their housing was being paid for by campaign committees.

The “double-dipping,” Hall said, was a violation of the Legislative Ethics Committee’s Guideline 11, which prohibits lawmakers from collecting per diem payments from the government for lodging expenses paid by another entity.

“However, in a bizarre turnabout after it received my complaint against Rep. Torbett and another legislator,” Hall wrote to the Legislative Ethics Committee, “the Committee met in late October 2020 and voted to rescind Guideline 11 and then dismissed my complaint.”

In 2020, there were seven complaints filed with the Legislative Ethics Committee. All seven were dismissed, according to the committee’s annual report. ..

The charter school where Torbett’s wife serves on the board has drawn national criticism because it received a $250,000 Charter School Program grant intended to help disadvantaged students.

Carol Burris, executive director for the Network for Public Education, a nonprofit advocacy group that opposes charter schools, wrote about the school and others in a Washington Post column. Burris criticized them for their lack of diversity.

“During 2019, the year in which the school was awarded its Charter School Program grant of $250,000, 95 percent of the school’s students were White, compared with its integrated public school district, Gaston, where only 53 percent of the students are White,” Burris wrote.

John Torbett is also the sponsor of House Bill 324, which would limit what students could be taught about the nation’s racial past.

Conservatives have embraced the controversial bill, arguing that it would prevent teachers from indoctrinating students with liberal ideology. Progressives oppose it, saying it’s important that children learn hard truths about systemic racism, slavery and Jim Crow laws.

The Public School Forum of NC wrote this comparison of different budget proposals for K-12 spending. What jumped out at me was the Republican proposal to grant permanent status to the state’s three virtual charter schools, despite their poor performance.

Peter Greene writes about a charter school in North Carolina that had a strict dress code for female students. Parents sued to overturn the rule as a violation of Title IX. They won. But then a federal appeals court reversed the ruling. The judges reasoned that charter schools are not public schools and not subject to the same laws as public schools.

He wrote:

In North Carolina, Charter Day School back in 2016 was sued by parents who objected to a dress code requiring girls to wear skirts, jumpers, or skorts. They just won that suit, sort of, but revealed something about themselves in the winning.

This is a school whose mission involves communicating through the arts and sciences. Charter Day School is part of the network of charters operated by Roger Bacon Academy, one of the charters that focuses on a “classical curriculum” in a “safe, morally strong environment,” which meant, apparently, none of those pants-wearing girls in their school (It also supposedly means things like sentence diagramming in Kindergarten and Latin in 4th grade, but then, Baker is an electrical engineer, not an educator.)You’re in trouble now, missy.

RBA is owned and operated by Baker Mitchell, Jr., and if that name seems vaguely familiar, it’s because he is one of the titans of charter profiteering. Back in 2014, Marian Wang profiled the “politically-connected businessman who celebrates the power of the free market,” and how he perfected the business of starting nonprofit charter schools and then having those schools lease their buildings, equipment, programs, etc from for-profit companies owned and operated by Baker Mitchell, Jr. That’s where the Roger Bacon Academy, a for-profit charter management company comes in.

In 2019, a federal judge passed down the ruling that any public school in the country would have expected– a dress code requiring skirts for girls is unconstitutional. The school quietly retired the item in the dress code.

But that wasn’t the end of it. Monday (Aug 9) a federal appeals court tossed out the 2019 ruling–sort of– in a 2-1 ruling.

The two judges, both Trump appointees, ruled that contrary to the assertion of the lower court, that charter schools should not be considered state actors, and are therefore not subject to the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. This is yet another way for the courts to work their way around to declaring that charter schools are free to discriminate in any ways they wish. But it also makes one thing perfectly clear–

Charter schools are not public schools. They are not state actors.