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Diane Ravitch calls Yevonne Brannon "a hero of public education in North Carolina"

Education commentator Diane Ravitch is calling Yevonne Brannon "one of the heroes of public education in North Carolina" for fighting taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools and for her efforts to support busing for diversity in Wake County.

In a post today on her blog, Ravitch wrtes that "public education is under siege" in North Carolina" as the state "has enacted radical privatization measures, including charters and vouchers." Ravitch writes that "North Carolinians are not standing still," pointing to the Moral Monday rallies.

"One of the stalwarts of the effort to stop the destruction of public education is Dr. Yevonne Brannon," Ravitch writes. "She is one of the leaders of Public Schools First NC, which has encouraged resistance to the extremists. She has lived in Wake County for 40 years, and has been a steadfast supporter of racial integration and quality education for all."

Private school vouchers bill advances

AP: A North Carolina House panel on Tuesday narrowly backed a controversial bill that would give taxpayer money to North Carolina students to attend private or religious schools. The House Education Committee voted 27-21 to recommend a bill that would give annual grants of $4,200 each to students from low-income families. The bill has sparked a clash between advocates who call it a victory for school choice and opponents who say it marks the dismantling of public education.

The bill still has to go through another committee, which will discuss the financial impact, and the House floor. More here.

GOP lawmakers to begin push for private school vouchers

House Speaker Pro Tem Paul “Skip” Stam said he plans to introduce a $90 million plan to provide vouchers that will allow many parents to send their children to private schools.

Stam said the bill will offer a maximum $4,200 “equal opportunity scholarship grant” per child for those who meet income eligibility requirements, he told the Carolina Journal.

He estimated that it 52 percent of North Carolina school children would be eligible for vouchers for the 2013-14 school year, and 65 percent the following year. He said a scholarship could not exceed 90 percent of the cost of a private school's charges for tuition fees.

N.C. House meets with superintendents, teachers, principals on education changes

Groups of superintendents, teachers and school principals will be in Raleigh this week to offer legislators advice on new education laws.

House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Mecklenburg Republican, said legislators want to know from people who work in schools every day what can be done to improve results and how the changes legislators are considering will mesh with existing rules and practices.

The confabs are beginning early in the session so "they feel comfortable with first, providing us with ideas but also challenging us when they see legislation moving that they believe may be operationally problematic."

Tillis doesn't expect harmony on all issues. There will be bills on providing tax money to help public school students pay tuition to attend private schools. Tillis expects pushback on that idea, but that superintendents and legislators will have to "agree to disagree" on that.

The public meetings with educators this week will be from 11 a.m. -1 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday, in the House Chamber.

Superintendents are scheduled for Tuesday, local principals of the year for Wednesday, and local teachers of the year for Thursday.

NAACP criticizes funding plan for private schools

North Carolina NAACP leaders gathered in front of the General Assembly Monday afternoon to criticize a bill that would would give tax credits to corporations which contribute to scholarship funding for private schools, reports staff writer Rosella Age.

"[It's] an attempt to privatize schools ... at the expense of the neediest child," said Rev. Dr. William Barber, who led the news conference.

Jeb Bush praises education plans that are like Florida's

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush praised North Carolina legislators for advancing "bold, student-centered measures" to improve education in the state.

The Seante this week approved a package of education changes similar to a program Florida started about 15 years ago. Among tthe most significant is preventing most third graders who cannot read at grade level from advancing to fourth grade.

Stam: 'Don't call them vouchers'

The N.C. Association of Educators posted a video of House Majority Leaders Paul Stam warning supporters not to refer to private school tax credits as vouchers.

Stam, an Apex Repubican, has a bill that would give parents who enroll a child in private school a $2,500 tax credit.

If supporters called them vouchers, he said, their mothers should wash their mouths out with soap.

"The term voucher polls way below tax credit," he said. "So get it out of your vocabulary."

UPDATE: Video added below.

Charter schools yes, vouchers no

A majority of North Carolina residents like the idea of charter schools, but don't like vouchers, according to a new state-wide poll.

The Elon University Poll found that 53 percent support public funding of charter schools, which are public schools that operate outside regular rules. Thirty-six percent oppose it. Despite the support, 60 percent want to keep the current cap at 100 school. The new Republican majority in the legislature hopes to raise the cap

But a majority(55 percent)  oppose the idea if using tax-funded vouchers to help parents pay for their children to attend private or religious schools. Thirty-nine percent support vouchers and 37 percent said they believed vouchers would encourage competition, thereby strengthening public schools.

The poll was conducted Nov. 15-18 and surveyed 520 North Carolina residents and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4.4 percentage points

N.C. split on vouchers, stem cells

Nearly half of North Carolinians oppose school vouchers, while a majority favor stem cell research.

According to an Elon University Poll conducted last week, 49.1 percent either disagree or strongly disagree with the use of state vouhers to pay for private or religious school education, while 41.5 percent agree or strongly agree.

When asked their overall opinion on medical research involving stem cells from human embryos, 53.4 percent either support or strongly support it, while 30.8 percent oppose or strongly oppose it.

Overall 51.1 percent said they support or strongly support public funding for stem cell research.

The live survey of 477 adults was conducted from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points.

Unlike other polls, Elon surveys all North Carolina residents, not just voters or likely voters. (N&O)

Perdue: McCrory should remain mayor

CHARLOTTE - Democrat Beverly Perdue came to Republican Pat McCrory's backyard today and slammed the Charlotte mayor for "whining about crime" while vetoing a move to put more cops on the street.

Perdue also criticized McCrory for supporting school vouchers, which she said would take $1 billion out of public education, and opposing children's health insurance, reports Jim Morrill of The Charlotte Observer.

"The mayor of Charlotte may be a good guy," she told about 40 people. "He's a good mayor of Charlotte. And I'm asking you to let him remain as mayor."

Perdue referred to McCrory's 2006 veto of a city budget that included money for 70 new police officers. It also included a 9 perent property tax increase, the first hike in 10 years and the reason for McCrory's veto. The Democratic-controlled city council overrode the veto.

Since McCrory was first elected in 1995, the city has added 400 police officers. He's also pushed for more state money for prosecutors.

Perdue has run ads attacking McCrory on vouchers. She says giving state money to families who might choose private schools would drain money from public schools. McCrory has said he supports "selective use" of vouchers for special needs students.

Although she said vouchers would take $1 billion out of public education, her ads say they would cost the state $900 million. That assumes that every student home schooled or enrolled in private school in North Carolina would get a voucher.

The McCrory campaign wasn't immediately available for comment.

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