... we won't see a final resolution of the 13-person scramble for a seat on the N.C. Court of Appeals until next week. Appointed incumbent Cressie Thigpen is seeking a recount after losing to former appellate judge Doug McCullough by about 6,000 votes.
It's been more than a month since voters cast their ballots in the first statewide use of instant runoff voting.
A rural teacher’s retreat in the North Carolina mountains continues to command around $5.5 million in appropriations from the state budget, despite questions about its necessity in lean fiscal times.
As reported by Carolina Journal last year, the N.C. Center for the Advancement of Teaching, a professional development center in Jackson County, picks up the tab for more than 5,000 teachers to attend each year. Weeklong seminar topics include holistic health, pottery, and global warming.
The General Assembly had allocated $7 million to NCCAT during the three fiscal years leading up to 2009. The appropriation has since been trimmed by $1.6 million, and NCCAT's positions have been reduced by almost 20 percent, according to NCCAT staff.
Even so, top staff continue to command six-figure or near six-figure salaries, and their pay hasn’t been reduced. However, two lower-wage earners, administrative officers, had their pay reduced by almost one-third in September 2009.
In 2008, executive staff got 6 percent raises, double the average amount received by public school teachers.
NCCAT recently celebrated its 25-year anniversary by hosting a gala at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Former Gov. Jim Hunt, a Democrat, headlined the event. No taxpayer dollars went into funding the dinner, according to NCCAT staff.
Further cuts to NCCAT could be one small piece of the puzzle as the General Assembly deals with overcoming a projected $3.3 billion budget deficit next year.
So argue economics professors Thomas Cooley and Lee Ohanian in this Wall Street Journal op-ed piece today.
They make the crucial point that economic expansion requires capital. Unfortunately, they write, "Our capital stock is comparatively smaller today than it was before the Great Depression. The ratio of business-sector capital to output is about 30 percent smaller today than it was in 1929."
The egalitarian left wants desperately for people to believe that "the rich" have a bottomless well of money that they horde or waste on fancy living and that whenever the government increases taxes on them, that somehow makes everyone else better off. It's an appeal to envy, pure and simple. As Obama's surly press conference yesterday revealed, he's very displeased that the envy card doesn't have the political power it once did. The Democrats played it incessantly during the mid-term election but most of the voters ignored it.
Increased capital investment won't come from the poor and only somewhat from the middle class. The demand of the "professional left" that taxes must be raised on "the wealthiest Americans" is lousy, short-sighted economic policy, reducing investment when that's what we need the most.
We've heard a lot about the political, philosophical, and economic reasons for the American colonies' decision to declare their independence from Britain and fight what would come to be known as the American Revolution.
Among Kidd's key points is the role evangelicals and Enlightenment-fueled deists played in fighting against government-supported established religion:
Led by evangelicals who had long suffered under the state establishments, and by Enlightenment rationalists like Jefferson who feared government persecution of the evangelical and heterodox alike, the United States became committed to the free practice of religion with no government preferences or funding for denominations.
Disestablishment hardly reflected government hostility to religion, however. Under the canopy of disestablishment and religious freedom, the churches of America flourished in astounding ways. Whatever Jefferson meant by his "wall of separation," hardly anyone across the religious spectrum in America believed that separation should entail government antagonism toward religion or the elimination of religious rhetoric or symbols from the political sphere.
Whatever their personal convictions about religion, Patriots typically believed that virtue sustained a republic and that religion was the most common resource that trained people in virtue.
Philosopher and theologian Michael Novak noted similar themes during a February presentation in Raleigh for the John Locke Foundation and Ralph McInerny Center for Thomistic Studies.
... for some Locker Room readers, but here's some advice: don't pursue a Ph.D. in the humanities. If you are considering doing so, please follow these four simple steps to a brighter future:
Slap yourself. Hard. Make sure you really feel it.
Smell the coffee.
Read today's Clarion Call on the Pope Center website by Troy Camplin, in which he describes the atrocious job market for humanities Ph.D.'s. Camplin, an English Ph.D., now works the graveyard shift at a hotel in order to feed his family.
If you're still not convinced, check out the first 36 or so out of 100 very good reasons not to go to grad school. Or try Mark Bauerlein's essay from Monday about the plummeting job market for Ph.D.'s in literary studies.
If that doesn't work, watch this slightly macabre but still funny Youtube clip in which an adviser tries to drill some sense into the head of a young woman determined to go to grad school.
If that still doesn't work, watch this other Youtube clip in which the Simpsons mock the "terrible life choice" of some Ph.D. students.
And if none of those work, I would suggest going back to step one and starting over, although I fear your condition may be terminal.
I thought the school board was nonpartisan. At least I don't remember seeing party affiliation on the ballot and the paper never made an issue of partisanship when Democrats held the majority. But the headline this morning reads, "Democrats block shuffle of Southeast Raleigh students."
Will the paper now start identifying the party affiliation of judges and city council members, too? Will the editorial board endorse a return to partisan elections in city, school board, and judicial races?
In total, the feds have now issued 222 waivers for organizations that can't handle the costs of Obamacare, including 49 labor unions. Details available here.
Makes you wonder if Obama, Secretary Sebelius, et al regard the idea of equal protection of the law as another of those old fashioned notions that we can ignore under their concept of a "living Constitution." Old idea: laws were written to secure the rights of individuals and the government was not permitted to ignore them so that some people could be victimized by others, such as the KKK. New idea: laws can be written to harm everyone, but it is all right for the government to selectively waive the "protection" of the law for favored entities.
The NC Department of Public Instruction recently hired a new "legislative programs director," Ann McColl. News & Observer reporter Lynn Bonner mentions that McColl is a lawyer. Unfortunately, Bonner does not identify (or seem interested in) where Ms. McColl did her lawyering. Strange.
I will fill in the blanks. McColl is the former legal counsel for the NC Association of School Administrators, an advocacy organization led by former Wake County superintendent Bill McNeal. She has also served as legal counsel and director of policy for the North Carolina School Boards Association (another advocacy organization) and was a former associate professor in the College of Education at UNC-Charlotte.
Raleigh experienced record-tying cold temperatures yesterday — the lowest daily high temperature since 1984, reports the News & Observer.
The National Weather Service expects a balmy 38 degrees today, a near-tropical 40 degrees Thursday and a thermometer-bursting 50 degrees Friday. The weekend should be right livable, barring Sunday rain. But then the cold will return.
"It's normal," meteorologist Brandon Locklear said. "We get these blocking patterns where it's very cold for two weeks, you get a brief change, and it's back again."
Normal? How could such global warming — err, climate change — be normal?
Michael Barone's latest Washington Examinercolumn focuses on President Obama's decision to cut a deal with Republicans on tax rates:
[H]e recognized the reality that in order to prevent a tax increase on those with incomes under $250,000 he had to prevent a tax increase on those over that line as well.
This has infuriated liberal Democrats like outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., but they share some of the blame themselves. They probably could have passed their version of the tax bill earlier this year, before the economic recovery stalled in the spring.
But with the economy faltering, there's a strong argument against raising anyone's taxes -- strong enough to have persuaded many congressional Democrats.
Obama had to abandon his goal of raising taxes on high earners not because Republicans opposed it but because not enough Democrats supported it. Pelosi couldn't summon up a majority on the issue back in September, and Harry Reid could get only 53 of the needed 60 votes this month.
Democrats, not Republicans, are responsible for extension of all the "Bush tax cuts."
Still, Obama in his surly statement Monday evening and his unusually brief press conference Tuesday afternoon was at pains to attack Republicans.
The president who first came to national attention for expressing respect for those with whom he differed insisted that he was eager to "fight" Republicans and described them as "hostage takers," with the American people as hostages. Not much evidence of civility.
And he addressed most of his remarks to what last month's election revealed as a narrow segment of the nation's electorate, the Democratic base.
It’s a topic that’s attracted attention from Daren Bakst. Now George Will’s latest Newsweekcolumn focuses on the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to take up an Arizona case involving a dispute over taxpayer-financed election campaigns.
Will notes the absurdity of Arizona’s law:
Arizona’s law punishes candidates who do not accept taxpayer funding and the limits on spending that come with it. Those are limits on what most political spending finances—the dissemination of political speech. Taxpayer-funded candidates receive additional tax dollars—up to double their original infusion—to match funds raised by candidates who, relying on voluntary contributions, spend above the limits.
There is an astonishing additional provision to punish political speech the government disfavors: When independent political groups—groups that cannot coordinate with, let alone be controlled by, candidates—spend what the government considers too much in opposition to a publicly funded candidate, or in favor of a privately funded candidate, the government gives matching funds not to independent groups supporting the publicly funded candidate but directly to that candidate—and to any other publicly funded candidates seeking the same office. But independent expenditures in support of publicly funded candidates, or in opposition to privately funded candidates, trigger no matching funds for privately funded candidates. So, if an independent group spends $10,000 to fund speech on behalf of a privately funded candidate in a race against three publicly funded candidates, those three get almost $30,000 to spend on speech against him.
As Newsweek’s latest cover story details, former Washington, D.C., public schools chancellor Michelle Rhee plans to champion school reform efforts from a national perspective.
You might be surprised to learn — especially if you’re a frequent reader of Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter — that the crux of Rhee’s message does not involve bashing of teachers’ unions:
The teachers’ unions get the blame for much of this. Elected officials, parents, and administrators implore them to “embrace change” and “accept reform.” But I don’t think the unions can or should change. The purpose of the teachers’ union is to protect the privileges, priorities, and pay of their members. And they’re doing a great job of that.
What that means is that the reform community has to exert influence as well. That’s why I’ve decided to start StudentsFirst, a national movement to transform public education in our country. We need a new voice to change the balance of power in public education. Our mission is to defend and promote the interests of children so that America has the best education system in the world.
From the moment I resigned, I began hearing from citizens from across this country. I got e-mails, calls, and letters from parents, students, and teachers who said, “Don’t give up. We need you to keep fighting!” Usually, they’d then share with me a story about how the education system in their community was not giving students what they need or deserve. I got one e-mail from two people who have been trying to open a charter school in Florida and have been stopped every step of the way by the school district. No voices have moved me more than those of teachers. So many great teachers in this country are frustrated with the schools they are working in, the bureaucratic rules that bind them, and the hostility to excellence that pervades our education system.
The common thread in all of these communications was that these courageous people felt alone in battling the bureaucracy. They want help and advocates. There are enough people out there who understand and believe that kids deserve better, but until now, there has been no organization for them. We’ll ask people across the country to join StudentsFirst—we’re hoping to sign up 1 million members and raise $1 billion in our first year.