STANDING STRONG FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS IS BEST SCHOOL CHOICE: As the General Assembly sends money to big business and the wealthy, it deprives public schools by diverting tens of millions of taxpayer dollars to private schools through a voucher scheme. By the end of this decade, at the current rate, North Carolina will spend more on private school vouchers than on textbooks and digital resources for 1.5 million public school students. In the last century, public education has transformed North Carolina into a beacon of opportunity. Public schools have made – and can continue to make -- a dramatic impact on generations of families. But we must make a choice: Instead of sitting quietly through the systematic dismantling of public schools, we should stand strong for the heart and soul of our state—a thriving public education system.
UNC SYSTEM HIJACKED BY PARTISAN POLITICS: The divisiveness and rancor exhibited in a recent meeting of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors is a threat to the reputation and stability of a university long regarded as North Carolina’s crown jewel. Relatively speaking, North Carolina is a state with many pockets of poverty; it suffers from the racial divides seen in other southern states; its anti-union, “right-to-work” tradition has been a black eye in terms of its reputation among other states with high-tech dreams; its history in the civil rights movement is not good; and the 30-year tenure of the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms gave the state an image as an outpost for right-wing politics. But always, or so it seems anyway, the University of North Carolina system has been a point of pride. Now, thanks to the amateurish, partisan rancor dividing the current edition of the UNC Board of Governors and the almost childish outbreak of anger evident in a recent meeting, North Carolinians should justifiably worry that the university that belongs to them is in jeopardy.
NC'S CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION MUST UNITE TO KEEP DACA: Unlike several state attorneys general who are threatening the Trump administration in an effort to repeal DACA, North Carolina’s Attorney General Josh Stein has rightly joined 19 others to urging Trump to keep it. President of Duke University Vincent Price share’s UNC’s support of DACA and last week sent a letter to Trump urging him to avoid repeal. The consensus among this broad spectrum of North Carolina political and education leaders needs to be reflected – vocally – by the state’s congressional delegation. The state’s senators and members of House of Representatives need to stand united against repeal of DACA and let the White House know of their stand. We’ll be asking each of the members of the state’s congressional delegation where they stand. We’ll follow up on their response: Do they stand with North Carolinians who believe in the promise of the American dream or those who want to expel the best and brightest of the next generation merely because of where they were born and how they came into this nation?
HOW NOT TO RUN THE EPA: The EPA’s recent attack on a reporter for The Associated Press and the installation of a political appointee to ferret out grants containing “the double C-word” are only the latest manifestations of my fears, which mounted with Pruitt’s swift and legally questionable repeals of EPA regulations – actions that pose real and lasting threats to the nation’s land, air, water and public health. All of that is bad enough. But Pruitt recently unveiled a plan that amounts to a slow-rolling catastrophe in the making: the creation of an antagonistic “red team” of dissenting scientists to challenge the conclusions reached by thousands of scientists over decades of research on climate change. It will serve only to confuse the public and sets a deeply troubling precedent for policy-making at the EPA.
NC'S GOP CONGRESSMEN FAILED ON HARVEY RELIEF: Budd complained that hurricane funding was poisoned by the unrelated items attached. Walker sent House Speaker Paul Ryan a list of issues he said should be addressed along with the debt ceiling, including repealing Obamacare and passing a balanced budget amendment. Both voted for a smaller relief bill Wednesday that stood on its own. Yet, by Friday, that measure had been replaced and they faced the choice for voting once more, for or against; with most of their North Carolina GOP colleagues, they chose to vote no. Overall, the majority of House Republicans were able to support the bill. The majority of North Carolina House Republicans were not. That will be remembered the next time North Carolina stands in need of federal assistance — just as it was remembered that many Texas Republicans opposed federal relief after Superstorm Sandy struck New York and New Jersey in 2012.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
ALIRIO ESTEVEZ: AMERICA IS THEIR COUNTRY: My heart has felt an excruciating pain since learning that President Trump will eliminate DACA. DACA is a subject personal to me. I have been an ESL teacher for 17 years. I have worked with hundreds of immigrant children. They are my children, not just my students. They came to this country, not of their own volition. They did not make the decision to come to this country. Children just do what their parents tell them to do. These children, my children, worked hard to learn the language, to master the contents of all subject areas. They were and are brave. How would someone react if they were thrown into an unknown world? They were courageous. They adapted to a new culture and succeeded. One of them is now a paralegal in a prestigious law firm here. Another graduated from a university in Texas. Others started their own businesses. Many of them have families. America is their country. To think that the president is willing to destroy what they have built makes my soul despair. I really hope the Congress approves a bill protecting these children, my children, our children.
WILLIAM YANER: HOPE FOR THIS NATION RESIDES IN ITS YOUTH: Just like that. With the stroke of a pen, 800,000 lives of productive, honest men, women and children were turned from dreams to nightmares. The latest in a desperate attempt by the old white men in Washington to make America look like Ozzie, Harriet, David and Ricky again. And somehow I — guilty by association — felt crummy about it all. Then I saw a piece on the “CBS Morning Show” about a bunch of “Hamilton”-themed summer camps across the country that were wildly successful and are inspiring multitudes of drama teachers to carry on this wonderful integration of the arts and history. And I thought, bingo! That’s it! That’s the youth of this great country coming up, while the old white farts in Washington fade away. They haven’t got a chance, and they know it. Trump and company are the last act of a sad, farcical tale that will not last.
HL HARBETT: ENVIRONMENTAL RISKS OF ATLANTIC COAST PIPELINE NOT WORTH IT: I am in agreement with the sentiments expressed in “NC should reject the Atlantic Coast Pipeline” (Aug. 11). I continue to wonder why North Carolina would even consider the pipeline considering the alternative sources of energy it has in such abundance. As I read the column, I thought about the ACP and wondered where there would be a break and spill? It is not a matter of if such a catastrophe will occur, it is a matter of when and where. Why are we so determined to sully this beautiful state with the addition of this pipeline? I think of the greed behind much of this. When is enough profit enough? Why risk what North Carolina has to line the pockets of the few? North Carolinians still have to live here; don’t we all want to continue to live in one of the most beautiful states in the country? I am relieved that Gov. Roy Cooper is opposed to this mindless project, I just wish our legislators would rethink their positions and imagine the environmental consequences. Are the risks worth it?