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NC Senate votes to ban people from wearing masks in public for health reasons

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NC Senate votes to ban people from wearing masks in public for health reasons


The North Carolina Senate plans to vote Wednesday to ban people from wearing masks in public for health reasons, institute harsher penalties on protesters, roll back juvenile justice reforms, raise toll road late fees, modernize sex crime laws and let billboard companies cut down more trees.

Web Editor : Jelia Hepner

Posted 2024-05-15T23:30:51-0400 – Updated 2024-05-15T23:30:51-0400



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North Carolina

NC legislators continue to ignore teacher vacancy crisis • NC Newsline

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NC legislators continue to ignore teacher vacancy crisis • NC Newsline


In 2023 state policymakers were confronted with alarming data: teacher vacancies had hit record highs. Not only did 1 in every 18 classrooms lack a licensed teacher, but districts serving the greatest share of Black students and students from families with low incomes faced the greatest shortages. In other words, the teacher shortage had reached crisis levels, demanding a dramatic response from lawmakers.

Sadly, that response never came. Now the teacher vacancy problem has gotten worse.

At the 40th day of the 2023-24 school year, 6,006 classroom teaching positions were vacant, smashing the prior year record by 18 percent. This year, more than 1 in every 16 lacked a licensed teacher over a month into the school year.

These vacancies continue to be associated with the demographics of the district. Districts with more students from families with low incomes and districts with more Black students tend to experience higher teacher vacancy rates. The association has grown even more stark this year. 

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As a result, it’s disproportionately Black students and economically disadvantaged students who pay the price for lawmakers’ unwillingness to make the necessary investments to attract and retain certified teachers in every classroom.

Of course, all students suffer from teacher vacancies. And it’s not just the students assigned to an unlicensed teacher.

Teacher vacancies increase the demands on the teachers who have persisted in spite of state policymakers’ efforts to drive them from the classroom. Vacancies create larger class sizes. They require experienced teachers to assist untrained, novice teachers and to fill in when substitutes are nowhere to be found. This leaves our best teachers with less time to lesson plan, individualize instruction, assist less experienced colleagues, or to find regular opportunities to decompress from an increasingly difficult, stressful job.

As vacancies rise year after year, an increasing number of teachers are taking on more responsibilities to fill in the holes.

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It should come as no surprise that North Carolina’s teacher vacancy problem has worsened. The 2023 budget failed to include any meaningful efforts to reverse the ongoing war on the teaching profession. In spite of the teacher shortage crisis, legislators cut public school budgets and provided meager pay raises of only 3.6 percent, barely keeping pace with inflation. Average teacher pay is 23 percent below the national average. Our schools remain among the worst-funded in America and our teachers continue to earn salaries that dramatically trail their peers in other industries.

Legislators know that teachers remain the most important in-school factor for boosting academic achievement. Yet they have instead chosen to prioritize a massive expansion of the state’s private school voucher program to benefit wealthy families already enrolled in private schools. While investments in teachers have been shown to boost academic performance, statewide voucher programs have produced unprecedented drops in test scores for voucher students

The voucher expansion also sends a clear message to public school teachers: state leaders would rather subsidize their wealthy donors than provide teachers with competitive salaries, repair dilapidated school buildings, or give teachers adequate support staff such as teacher assistants, nurses, and school psychologists.

Legislators’ failure to support teachers and improve their working conditions is at the heart of the long-running Leandro court case which requires that all children have access to highly qualified teachers. The case has spurred a detailed, research-based, multi-year plan to increase investments in educators and students in order to provide the basic level of schooling promised under our state constitution. Unfortunately, legislative leaders have fought tooth and nail to get the plan thrown out by the courts, sending educators (and students) another clear message: they’re uninterested in making things better.

The legislature has further conveyed their contempt for teachers by continuing to meddle in how teachers can do their jobs. The Parents Bill of Rights creates purposefully ambiguous restrictions on how teachers approach subjects related to sexual identity and limits their ability to support trans students or others exploring their gender identity. The bill also allows bad actors to file frivolous information requests and objections to instructional materials, chilling instruction on controversial subjects while also wasting teachers’ limited time and resources.

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Other bills targeting teachers’ instructional practices could be revived this year. For example, HB 187, which seeks to create a chilling effect around an honest teaching of history and current events, is awaiting action in the state senate. Additionally, a major candidate for Governor has conducted his own witch hunt of teachers – seeking and failing to find “indoctrination” – and has referred to educators as “wicked people.”

Is it any wonder that teacher vacancies continue to rise?

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are several obvious steps that the legislature could take to attract and retain excellent, well-trained professionals in every classroom:

  • Large, across-the-board pay raises 
  • Proper staffing levels for support staff such as teacher assistants, psychologists, nurses, counselors, and social workers
  • Capital improvements to ensure each school offers a healthy, inviting learning environment
  • Restoration of professional development and early career mentoring funds

Not coincidentally, these are all elements of the Leandro Plan.

If legislators want to address the teacher vacancy crisis, they can implement these evidence-based policies. But if they’d rather erect barriers to make academic success more difficult for Black students and students from families with low incomes, then they can continue their current strategy of undermining and alienating educators.

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At North Carolina's GOP convention, governor candidate Robinson energizes Republicans for election – WWAYTV3

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At North Carolina's GOP convention, governor candidate Robinson energizes Republicans for election – WWAYTV3


Josh Stein and Mark Robinson (Photos:WWAY/NRA Youtubs/MGN)

GREENSBORO, NC (AP) — Before Mark Robinson, North Carolina’s GOP candidate for governor, even stepped on stage at the state party’s convention Saturday, several state candidates took time in their own speeches to energize the crowd by vouching for Robinson’s gubernatorial bid.

When the state’s lieutenant governor did take to the stage more than an hour and a half into the NCGOP Convention’s Old North State Dinner in Greensboro, Robinson started off his fiery speech denouncing the media for focusing too much on Donald Trump’s ongoing criminal and civil trials and not the “failures of the Democratic Party.” He also shared his vision for the state, which he said centers around improving the economy and education.

“Trust me, there are enough people in this state who are talented enough and share the vision that we have that we can make this a reality, folks,” Robinson said during his speech, which was livestreamed by Triad television outlet WGHP.

The 55-year-old Republican is embroiled in one of the most hotly contested gubernatorial races of the 2024 election against his Democratic opponent and state Attorney General Josh Stein. Robinson’s brash political style has intrigued Trump supporters, as well as the former president himself, who formally endorsed Robinson in March at a Greensboro rally and called him “Martin Luther King on steroids.”

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Robinson has also caught the attention of critics who say his rhetoric on the LGBTQ community and restricting abortion access should be a cause for concern. The Greensboro native has previously defended his past remarks by saying he can separate his religious views from public office and wants to make North Carolina a “destination state for life.”

Calling himself “part of the winning team” during his speech, Robinson credited Republican policies with the state’s economic success and stressed the role of the governor’s office — under his leadership — to preserve that success.

“North Carolina is literally on the cusp of exploding economically,” Robinson said. “It’s time for us to direct that explosion in the right way and cause this state to be something better than it already is.”

Education in North Carolina is another priority for Robinson, who said the state’s education system is “in shambles.” But the state of education isn’t at the fault of teachers, Robinson said, adding that he puts schoolteachers in the same category as police officers.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum also was a keynote speaker at Saturday’s dinner, where he started off his speech calling Robinson the state’s next governor. He also reiterated sentiments from Republican National Committee co-chair Lara Trump and her husband, Eric Trump, who both spoke at the convention Friday, that North Carolina will be an important state in 2024 that could “determine the actual direction of our entire country.”

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Lovely North Carolina City Was Just Crowned America's Safest Place To Retire

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Lovely North Carolina City Was Just Crowned America's Safest Place To Retire


When the time comes to retire, there’s a number of factors to consider, not the least of which is safety. So, it’s helpful to see guidance pointing us to America’s safest place to retire.

America’s Safest Place To Retire And Why

And, according to a study discussed in Travel+Leisure, America’s



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