For Once I May Have Liked What Lt. Gov. Dan Forest Said – But Not For the Reasons He Would Like

Rural Center county classifications

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest’s recent comments concerning “bridging the digital divide” at the “Advocacy Day for Making Rural School Districts a Priority” event were actually very heartening to hear – for more than one reason.

If you have followed the North Carolina public school funding discussion, disparities between affluent metropolitan areas and economically depressed rural areas are hard to ignore, especially when it comes to getting local funds to help subsidize teacher salary supplements and resources. It might be one of the reasons that charter schools and voucher advocates have has so much traction in the rural parts of the Tarheel state.

But Lt. Gov. Forest said something that was very encouraging. Refer to Alex Granados’s article in EdNC.org entitled “State leaders speak out on education at rural advocacy day” (https://www.ednc.org/2017/03/30/state-leaders-speak-education-rural-advocacy-day/).

He said that five years ago, before he was in his current position, he thought the state could lead the nation in high speed broadband access to classrooms. Now, North Carolina is on the verge of achieving that goal. That will help “students in poor rural North Carolina have the same hope and opportunity for an excellent education as students in wealthier parts of our state that have had for years,” he said.  

He also decried the fact that even with all the technological advances, the education field still is not level. 

“Shame on us in this day and age that we still have schools that are not at par with one another across our state,” he said. 

There are two operative words here: “poor” and “shame.” However, the reasons for the propagation of poverty in North Carolina and our need to feel shame for that is more than a single post could ever handle. But it is something that the Lt. Gov. could do a much better job of addressing on West Jones Street. Instead of using poverty and shame as fuel for privatizing education, he should listen to what he said very closely and then read this op-ed that appeared in The New York Times this past Sunday entitled “Who Needs Charters When You Have Public Schools Like These?” by David Kirp (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/01/opinion/sunday/who-needs-charters-when-you-have-public-schools-like-these.html).

Kirp is a professor at UC-Berkley which is considered by many to be the finest public university in the nation. California’s public university system is also a leading world-class system. Ironically, so is North Carolina’s, despite what the current administration in the General Assembly and the past administration in the governor’s mansion have done to weaken it.

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest has been a part of both of both of those.

In this op-ed, Kirp talks about the use of technology in poor rural areas for public schools that are helping students bridge achievement gaps that people have been touting charter schools and vouchers as being the solutions for –people like Lt. Dan Forest and another recent visitor to North Carolina, Betsy DeVos.

The same technology that Kirp talks about in his op-ed is easily facilitated in the scenario that Forest claims North Carolina has put into place, so much that we as a state are “on the verge” of “lead(ing) the nation in high speed broadband access to classrooms.”

Here are some of Professor Kirp’s observations:

“Ms. DeVos, the new secretary of education, dismisses public schools as too slow-moving and difficult to reform. She’s calling for the expansion of supposedly nimbler charters and vouchers that enable parents to send their children to private or parochial schools. But Union shows what can be achieved when a public school system takes the time to invest in a culture of high expectations, recruit top-flight professionals and develop ties between schools and the community.”

Investment? Recruitment of high-quality teachers? Retaining those teachers? Allow for ties between schools and communities? Wow! Novel ideas.

But lawmakers like Lt. Dan Forest seem to be too busy protecting us from nonexistent transgender sexual assaults in school locker rooms, clouding up any transparency for charter school growth, and funneling untold amounts of money into a voucher system that is inappropriately named “Opportunity Grants.”

Kirp further discusses,

“The school district also realized, as Ms. Burden put it, that “focusing entirely on academics wasn’t enough, especially for poor kids.” Beginning in 2004, Union started revamping its schools into what are generally known as community schools. These schools open early, so parents can drop off their kids on their way to work, and stay open late and during summers. They offer students the cornucopia of activities — art, music, science, sports, tutoring — that middle-class families routinely provide. They operate as neighborhood hubs, providing families with access to a health care clinic in the school or nearby; connecting parents to job-training opportunities; delivering clothing, food, furniture and bikes; and enabling teenage mothers to graduate by offering day care for their infants.”

Again, wow!

Supporting the arts and a holistic approach to curriculum? Health care clinics? Job training?

But lawmakers like Lt. Dan Forest have been too busy in the last few years suffocating public school systems to the point where they have to meet demands for class sizes that force them to sacrifice these very same programs. And health care? Just look at the hardened reluctance to expand Medicaid for these “poor” rural people.

That’s real “shame.”

Kirp concludes his op-ed,

“Under the radar, from Union City, N.J., and Montgomery County, Md., to Long Beach and Gardena, Calif., school systems with sizable numbers of students from poor families are doing great work. These ordinary districts took the time they needed to lay the groundwork for extraordinary results.

Will Ms. DeVos and her education department appreciate the value of investing in high-quality public education and spread the word about school systems like Union? Or will the choice-and-vouchers ideology upstage the evidence?”

Ironically, you would only have to substitute LT. Dan Forest’s name in that op-ed for Betsy DeVos as Forest is an avid supporter of DeVos’s policies. He was one of 70 leaders and organizations to sign an open letter of support for DeVos during her contentious confirmation process (http://www.excelined.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/2017.01.27-OpenLetterEndorsementforBetsyDeVos-FINAL.pdf?utm_source=ExcelinEd&utm_campaign=50bf72e4fa-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_01_27&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_0473a80b81-50bf72e4fa-).

“Betsy DeVos is an undisputed champion of families and students. For nearly 30 years she has devoted time and resources to improving education options for our nation’s children. Yet millions still languish in failing schools in an education system more than a century old. It’s time for a new vision.

Betsy DeVos provides that vision. She embraces innovation, endorses accountability and—most especially—trusts parents to choose what is in their unique child’s best interests. She also believes in providing every parent with the resources and choices to pursue those decisions.

On this week, National School Choice Week, we the undersigned endorse this champion of choice and the education reforms needed to improve the future of every child in America. And we strongly advocate for her confirmation as our next U.S. Secretary of Education. “

Remember that last year, Forest admonished DPI for its report on charter schools because it was not “positive” enough. He also is one of the most ardent supporters of HB2 because of his strident cause of protecting women and children from a nonexistent threat. And in a recent visit to Texas during their push for a bathroom law, he was keen to point out that there has been no economic fallout from HB2 in North Carolina contrary to multiple reports including a recent one from the Associated Press.

He called it “another attempt to mislead and confuse the public through a bogus headline.” The he added, “Our economy is doing well. Don’t be fooled by the media.”

But that internet thing and getting the rural areas connected? He’s totally right about that.

Every North Carolina Lawmaker Should Read The Recent Research From Stanford University About Public Investment in Schools. I Hear Stanford’s a Decent School.

Public education is a sacred trust of the citizenry, not an open market for capitalistic ventures. If one wants to make the argument that states like North Carolina are free to allow for competition within its public school system, then that person would need to explain how that complies with the state constitution which explicitly says that all students are entitled to a good quality education funded by the state.

An adequately, fully funded public school system actually is a foundational cornerstone for a democracy in which participants are represented by those elected to defend the very state constitution they are sworn to uphold. In many cases, those representatives were products of the very public schools that are part of the North Carolina public school system.

But many of our lawmakers have mistaken defending public schools with playing partisan politics.

  • The outgoing governor, Pat McCrory, is a graduate of Ragsdale High School but has never challenged any privatization effort on behalf of traditional public schools.
  • The Speaker of the House, Rep. Tim Moore, graduated from Kings Mountain High School and he helped expand the Opportunity Grant voucher system in North Carolina.
  • Gov. Dan Forest attended East Mecklenburg High School and as a sitting member of the state school board has demanded that DPI redo a report because it did not make charter schools sound positive enough.
  • Rob Bryan graduated from Sanderson High School in Raleigh and he literally strong armed a version system called the Achievement School District that has never succeeded anywhere else and Sen. Chad Barefoot, who graduated from East Davidson High School, let him do it as the head of a powerful committee.
  • Jerry Tillman was a principal for Southwestern Randolph County High School and he might be the champion of charter school deregulation.
  • Jason Saine graduated from Lincolnton High School and now literally champions charter schools in his home county and is helping not only the application process of one but gets campaign contributions from a national chain of charter schools.

It is to these lawmakers and other “re-form” minded individuals that the recent set of studies out of Stanford University should be directed.

The Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education (SCOPE) just released “Privatization or Public Investment in Education?” If you are nerdy enough, then you can go here – https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/publications/pubs/1456.

But here is part of the brief report from Dr. Frank Adamson, the Senior Policy and Research Analyst:

“The data suggest that the education sector is better served by a public investment approach that supports each and every child than by a market-based, competition approach that creates winners…and losers. While competition might work in sports leagues, countries should not create education systems in which children lose in the classroom. This report explains how and why some children can lose in a privatized system and makes recommendations to ensure that all children receive equitable, high-quality educational opportunities” (https://edpolicy.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/publications/scope-germ-brief-final.pdf)

And while many in the NC General Assembly have claimed that charter schools are “public schools” make sure to see how the funds are dispersed and make sure to see who is actually in control and make sure how admissions processes are administered. Then take a look at the academics and the impact the schools have on the traditional public schools, especially in rural areas like Lincoln County where Rep. Saine operates.

Further in Dr. Adamson’s brief, he makes sure to define what the “Key Features of Education Privatization” are.

“Privatization in education occurs when countries shift towards a “subsidiary state” model that primarily outsources social sector management to private firms. The government only provides services when no suitable private alternative exists. Because public education serves all children, complete privatization of education is difficult to achieve. Nevertheless, mechanisms such as vouchers, charters, and markets allow for private firms to compete in the education market, under the argument that increased competition will provide consumers (students and families) with a greater choice, thus increasing quality. However, in practice, public education contains different constraints than business markets, most notably the obligation of providing every child with a high-quality education. Therefore, as the results in this brief show, privatizing education has accompanied lower and/or more disparate student performance, likely because markets operate with different principles than the requirements of public sectors.”

It’s almost as if it was written in response to North Carolina.

“Pro-Life” Also Means Taking Care Of Those Who Are Already Born

Since we are nearing the holiday season, I tend to think of this part of Dickens’s classic holiday novella.

“At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge,” said the gentleman, taking up a pen, “it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.
“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.
“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.”
“The Treadmill and the Poor Law are in full vigour, then?” said Scrooge.
“Both very busy, sir.”
“Oh! I was afraid, from what you said at first, that something had occurred to stop them in their useful course,” said Scrooge. “I’m very glad to hear it.”
“Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian cheer of mind or body to the multitude,” returned the gentleman, “a few of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We choose this time, because it is a time, of all others, when Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I put you down for?”
“Nothing!” Scrooge replied.
“You wish to be anonymous?”
“I wish to be left alone,” said Scrooge. “Since you ask me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don’t make merry myself at Christmas and I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments I have mentioned—they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.”
“Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
“If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population. Besides—excuse me—I don’t know that.”
“But you might know it,” observed the gentleman.
“It’s not my business,” Scrooge returned. “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”

christmas-carol


The above passage from A Christmas Carol also comes to mind any time I hear elected officials talk about the role of government and the role of individuals in a nation that professes to be Christian in its founding and in its morals.

Below are three statements made directly by elected officials or posted on their official websites concerning morals and values. I am most interested in their use of the term “pro-life.”

“I believe strongly in the sanctity of life, and I have had the privilege of seeing many pro-life bills passed during my time in office. I am committed to standing up for the most vulnerable among us.” – Dan Forest, Lt. Gov. of NC

“A pro-life and pro-traditional marriage Senator who believes in religious freedom, Senator Berger has fought to protect the unborn and the rights of magistrates and government officials who choose to opt out of gay marriages or other ceremonies because of religious objections.” – philberger.org

“After 30 years of work on pro-life legislation, we were able to produce significant advances for the protection of the unborn and their mothers.  We ended tax funded abortions and sex selection abortion.  We authorized regulations to protect the health and safety of women at clinics. The Woman’s Right to Know Act with its 72 hour waiting period is reducing abortion rates by about 25%.” – Paul “Skip” Stam from paulstam.info

It is easy to confine the labels “pro-life” and “pro-choice” to the arena of unborn children. But the issue of abortion is not really the subject of this post.

Why? Abortion is too big of an issue to tackle in a personal essay and I am certainly not convinced that declaring yourself “pro-choice” automatically means that you condone abortion in any situation. Life throws too many qualifications into its equations to make all choices an either/or choice.

When my wife and I received a pre-natal diagnosis that our son had Down Syndrome, we were fortunate enough to be able to talk to a genetic counselor at Wake Forest Baptist Hospital. The state of North Carolina had at the time in its laws stated that an abortion could not be performed after a certain date in a woman’s pregnancy. If we had chosen to have an abortion, we would have had to make that decision in a rather small amount of time.

We did not seek an abortion; it was not an option for us, but it was rather surreal to receive phone calls from health providers talking about that option because they had to legally inform us of our rights/options/legal restrictions. You might be shocked to know the percentage of people/couples who choose to abort with the information we had. I was.

It’s 93%. That’s right. 93%. And I am not about to judge those who did choose what is legally their right in the eyes of the law. There are too many variables in lives that I do not live to run around and make judgement calls.

I also will never carry a child in a womb. Neither will Dan Forest. Neither will Phil Berger. Neither will Paul Stam. Neitehr will Trump or whoever wins the governor’s race.

We had Malcolm and I would not trade anything for the experience of being his parent. Anyone who knows me and my family can testify to that. But he is no longer “unborn.” He is now in our world among others who need help to lead fulfilling lives.

However, I do get rather irritated when the terms “pro-life” and “pro-choice” are used in a polarizing fashion, especially for political gain. And when I see the above three statements by prominent politicians, I do not necessarily sense a “pro-life” message as much as I sense an “anti-abortion” message.

Because “pro-life” means so much more than that.

Why are we not protecting the lives of those who are already born? I feel that being “pro-life” is not a matter reserved for the issue of abortion and the unborn, but should include those who are living and need help.

Hubert Humphrey once said in 1977, “the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; those who are in the shadows of life; the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

If you are “pro-life” then it would make sense that you would look to the welfare of those who cannot necessarily defend themselves without help like the “children, the elderly, and the sick.”

Is it not ironic that many who ran on a strict “pro-life” platform seem to be in favor of privatizing or redefining the very services that help sustain the lives of those whom they claim to champion.

Think of Medicaid that my own son has been on the waiting list for because he will need its services earlier than most people. If it becomes privatized, it may jeopardize his chances of getting the help he needs when he gets older. Within the state of North Carolina, not expanding Medicaid affects many “children, the elderly, and the sick.”

Nationally speaking, think of Obamacare that insures many who would not be eligible if such a plan was not in place. While it is anything from perfect, it has insured many people who were never insured before. And have the parties in charge of the government offered anything else except “free-market?”

Think of the use of tax payer money to fund vouchers and charter schools that are actually privatizing public schools all in the name of “choice” when there should be a push to fully fund all public schools and provide for their resources because public education is a public service and not a private entity.

Dan Forest once said in reference to the HB2 debacle, “We value our women too much to put a price tag on their heads.

But hasn’t some of the “choices” that have been made by those in power been made because there was some sort of price tag on it?

It seems that many of the politicians who claim to be hardline “pro-lifers” are helping to privatize the very institutions that are giving “life” to many individuals. And they are doing it in the name of free-markets, where people are supposed to be able to choose what they want hoping that the “market” controls prices and quality.

How ironic that many politicians who proclaim to be “pro-life” become “pro-choice” when it pertains to those who are already born.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would call himself “pro-life” and allow for big banks (look at what Wells Fargo did) and pharmaceutical companies (think of EpiPens) to literally control prices and the market without a fight.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would have been willing to allow public money to fund private entities without input from the public itself.

I would have a hard time thinking that Jesus would not confront politicians and call them out for their hypocrisy in not defending or helping take care of those who needed aid.

The Jesus I know called out the Sadducees and the Pharisees for their self-righteous ways.

The Jesus I know did not canvas for votes. He came to help all of us no matter race, gender, or physical ailment.

The Jesus I know preached and practiced the Golden Rule.

Growing up Southern Baptist in a region of the country known as the Bible Belt, I was constantly (still am) confronted with the question, “When you meet your Maker after you die, how will you answer for your actions?”

Yet the more I think of it, there might be another more important question that will require an answer from me and from all of us, especially those who have the power to positively affect the lives of people. That question is “What will you say when you meet your Maker and you are asked to answer for your lack of action?”

Back to Dickens. When Scrooge asked Marley’s ghost, who practiced an incredible amount of selfishness in life, about his afterlife, he was treated to a very terse lesson in what it meant to be “pro-life.”

“Oh! captive, bound, and double-ironed,” cried the phantom, “not to know, that ages of incessant labour by immortal creatures, for this earth must pass into eternity before the good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunity misused! Yet such was I! Oh! such was I!”
“But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.
“Business!” cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”

When you become an elected official, then your business is humankind. That’s being “pro-life.”

Priceless – Lt. Governor Dan Forest’s Mercurial Moral Compass

 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’” – Matthew 25:45

When the NCAA made its decision to pull seven championship game/matches out of North Carolina in response to the discriminatory nature of HB2, Kami Meuller, the spokesperson for the NCGOP released a rather unprofessional, seemingly inebriated, response meant to attack the NCAA for its “political peacocking.”

The immediate backlash to Meuller’s statement was swift and strong, but its illogical premise was adopted in another statement made by Lt. Gov. Dan Forest who released this a day later on Sept. 13th.


The NCAA’s action sends a message to every female athlete and female fan attending their events that their privacy and security in a bathroom, shower or locker room isn’t worth the price of a ticket to a ballgame. We have seen the NCAA’s attitude towards women before when they stood by and did nothing during the rapes at Baylor. For years, we’ve seen the NBA turn a blind eye towards women victims of domestic abuse at the hands of their star players. Why should we be surprised now at the NCAA continuing this pattern of discrimination and degradation of women? The line has now been drawn in the sand, first by Hollywood, now by the NBA and NCAA, either accept their ‘progressive sexual agenda’ or pay the price. North Carolina will not play that game. We value our women too much to put a price tag on their heads.” 

And while Forest parrots Mueller’s misinformed analogy to the Baylor University scandal and vilifies the NBA for its “blind eye,” it is the last statement that really solidifies Forest’s selective use of morality that paints a wider picture of our state’s government.

We value our women too much to put a price tag on their heads.

And while I value the women in my life as well, I find their value used as a matter of convenience in this case in order to fit a narrative.

I wonder if the LT. Governor would have communicated those same sentiments when Medicaid was refused in North Carolina. If he identifies protecting women from nonexistent transgender sexual assault as a holy crusade, then his strong Christian values would not dismiss a moral obligation to ensure that as many women and children have access to healthcare.

But his actions say the complete opposite. Apparently some people do have a price point.

I wonder if the LT. Governor would have communicated those same sentiments when the Voter ID law was passed in North Carolina. If he identifies protecting the poor and underrepresented from nonexistent voter fraud as a righteous campaign, then his strong Christian values would not dismiss a moral obligation to ensure that as many of our citizens have their constitutional right to use their voice and vote.

But his actions again state the opposite.

I wonder if the Lt. Governor would have communicated those same sentiments when unregulated charter schools and Opportunity Grants were siphoning monies from traditional high schools and allowing tax payer money to fund education for a selected few rather than strengthening the educational system for all.

And still, according to his actions, some people have a price point.

When faith is used to enflame fear and cover up facts, there is a price to be paid. If the Lt. Gov. really believed that there was no price that could be placed on “the heads” of our North Carolinian women, then he would also know that our children and our poor and our sick are also priceless.

In his fervor in defending HB2 in the court system, promoting the unconstitutional Voter ID law, and not helping expand Medicaid, Lt. Gov. Forest has shown that his moral compass is driven by his hardline conservative platform.

Looking at the entirety of “The Sheep and the Goats” excerpt from Matthew 25: 31-46 (see below), it seems that Christ very much wanted his followers to take care of the sick, poor, and disenfranchised as if they were taking care of themselves. That moral obligation would not be situational or politically motivated like the Lt. Governor’s.

Christ looked upon all as priceless. Does Dan Forest?

And if Lt. Gov. Forest was so against the NCAA or NBA’s “stance” on women, then he should be celebrating that these entities have chosen to not to have their championship/All-Star games here.

In fact, with his logic, Dan Forest should be thanking them.

The Sheep and the Goats – NIV

31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

44 “They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’

45 “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

What is a Turd’oeuvre? Well It Has Something to do With A Plagiarized Letter To The Editor

Caution: I cuss in this one. Not too bad, but it might offend your olfactory nerves.

I was fortunate to have an op-ed printed in the Winston-Salem Journal entitled “About those teacher slaries and raises…” – http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/stuart-egan-about-those-teacher-salaries-and-raises/article_556420c9-9f7e-5a7b-a7d6-35b8a91e484d.html.

Ironically, in the same edition of the paper (August 26th) there was a Letter to the Editor from a lady named Kristian Krawford entitled “Credit where credit I due”. It is below –

“Gov. Pat McCrory deserves credit where credit is due, and his latest ad hits the issue that is most important in the future. When it comes to average teacher pay, North Carolina has raised teacher pay faster than any other state and the average teacher pay plus benefits will be above $50,000 for the first time in state history.

A recent study by the 1889 Institute, which analyzed teacher pay and benefits against a state’s cost of living, North Carolina actually ranks 29th, and that’s before the raises from this year’s budget go into effect. Education funding has increased substantially. North Carolina’s school system was ranked as 19th in the nation and our high-school graduation rate is at an all-time high. Under McCrory’s leadership, the state is 10th in the country for investment in education.

That being said, there is still work to be done. There is no reason we can’t be top 10 in the country for all. This is where the difference lies: Attorney General Roy Cooper, if elected governor, would take more money out of everyone’s pockets, grow state government and drag the state backward to accomplish what Gov. McCrory has done to move us forward with responsible fiscal policies. I am happy to cast my vote for Gov. McCrory this November (http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/letters_to_the_editor/the-readers-forum-friday-letters/article_d79e0104-d993-5628-abc7-ac188d04b6a9.html).”

She bought McCrory’s ad – hook, line, and sinker. She has that right. In fact, she has the right to write about it because she has the right to be wrong.

In some ways I am grateful that on the opposite page of her LTE (Letter to Editor) was my explanation as a teacher in a public school in North Carolina that McCrory’s ad is misleading.

She’s right – we have raised average teacher pay more than any state. She fell for the “average bear” fallacy. Most of the raises were for the bottom rungs of the pay scale. Raising the teacher pay for newer teachers by a few thousand dollars raises their average pay by over 10%. Negating raises for veterans or offering little while taking away longevity pay (which is still given to all other government workers) really doesn’t increase the average.

In fact, when longevity pay was taken away and rolled into those raises, what the governor helped to do was take money out of veteran teachers’ pockets and then offer it back as a gift in the form of a raise so that he could help make misleading ads that Ms. Krawford falls for.

Cost of living? Actually that varies from county to county. There are many more studies pout there, but if Ms. Krawford asked some teachers about benefits, most of those teachers might not be verifying her claims.

More spent on education? Then ask her to explain how we can be spending more on education now when per-pupil expenditure has gone down since before the great recession. What she neglects to see is that NC’s population has grown, but the rate at which we finance public education has not kept up. Overall, dollars spent have increased, but not at the rate that our student populations have increased.

I hope she glanced at my op-ed. I would be glad to hear her insights in its contents.

Then, in a stroke of political luck, another gem of an LTE was printed the next day in the Journal from a Joan A. Fleming entitled “Education in North Carolina”. It reads,

“Let’s be proud of our Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislators in their education accomplishments. They increased the average teacher salary by 4.7 percent, which averages over $50,000 for the first time in our state history. If that’s not enough, over the next three years, that teacher salary average increases to $55,000. When considering robust health and retirement benefits offered to every full-time teacher in our state, the budget will boost average total compensation to more than $67,000. Teacher pay in North Carolina is growing faster than in any other state in the country under Gov. McCrory’s leadership.

Since 2013, North Carolina has invested more than $1 billion in new funding for teacher raises. This, my friends, is an increase of over 20 percent since the governor and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest took office in January 2013. North Carolina now leads the nation for increased teacher pay and our education budget increases by over $512 million during the 2016-17-budget year.

The current spending on education is $2 billion more on K-12 than was spent in the last year of the Perdue administration, which froze teacher pay.

Included are: funding for 450 more first-grade teachers to shrink classroom size and full funding of teacher-assistant positions.

Think about this again: Since 2013, North Carolina has more than a $1 billion in new funding for teacher raises. What a difference.

And the teachers all said: Thanks, Gov. McCrory.”

Honestly, this is like being presented a turd wrapped in bacon.

I like bacon, but I would rather not eat a turd.

It’s like a crappy hors d’oeuvre . It’s a turd’oeuvre.

And it reads like it was given to her from the governor himself.

Actually, it was. Look at the website, https://www.patmccrory.com/2016/07/14/budget-gosey/. I reference it in my op-ed mentioned earlier. Here’s the first full paragraph. Here, I will even give you the picture.

turdnado1.png

Now take Ms. Fleming’s first paragraph from her LTE and you can see the striking similarities. Words in bold are from the website.

“They increased the average teacher salary by 4.7 percent, which averages over $50,000 for the first time in our state history. If that’s not enough, over the next three years, that teacher salary average increases to $55,000 (actually that comes from another source – see below) .When considering robust health and retirement benefits offered to every full-time teacher in our state, the budget will boost average total compensation to more than $67,000. Teacher pay in North Carolina is growing faster than in any other state in the country under Gov. McCrory’s leadership.”

Holy shit! I mean, holy turds! She plagiarized the governor. Or she happens to be his website copy writer. Maybe she wrote Melania Trump’s RNC speech.

But I am guessing that she plagiarized it, literally word for word.

Actually, there’s really nothing original in Ms. Fleming’s LTE. The rest of the wonderful information she presents comes from a blog that she probably frequents because it follows her political ideology.

LadyLiberty1885.com is a relatively well-known blogger. She is conservative, really conservative. You can read about her and her writing here – https://ladyliberty1885.com/about/. She and I do not have the same views. I do not associate myself with Brietbart, Glenn Beck, the Civitas Institute, and others she lists.

She does have many people who read her blog like Ms. Fleming. Maybe Lady Liberty 1885 doesn’t mind being plagiarized, yet that’s what Ms. Fleming did in her Letter to the Editor. Take a look at a July 20, 2016 post from ladyliberty1885.com  about Lt. Gov. Dan Fleming’s education video – https://ladyliberty1885.com/2016/07/20/lt-governor-dan-forest-lays-out-nc-education-budget-increases-teacher-pay-video/. It states,

  • “Average teacher salary increase of 4.7% and will average over $50,000.  (More details on the increases here)
  • Over the next three years, that teacher salary average will increase to $55,000, which is an increase of over 20% since the Governor and Lt. Governor took office.
  • NC leads the nation for increased teacher pay.
  • Education budget will increase by over $512 million during the 2016-17 budget year.
  • The current spending on education is $2 billion more on k-12 than was spent in the last year of the Perdue administration, which froze teacher pay.
  • Funding for 450 more first grade teachers to shrink classroom size with the goal of 1 teacher for every 17 kids in K-3.
  • Full funding of teacher assistant positions.”

 

Now go back to Ms. Fleming’s LTE and I will bold the very words that are plagiarized.

“Since 2013, North Carolina has invested more than $1 billion in new funding for teacher raises. This, my friends, is an increase of over 20 percent since the governor and Lt. Gov. Dan Forest took office in January 2013. North Carolina now leads the nation for increased teacher pay and our education budget increases by over $512 million during the 2016-17-budget year. The current spending on education is $2 billion more on K-12 than was spent in the last year of the Perdue administration, which froze teacher pay. Included are: funding for 450 more first-grade teachers to shrink classroom size and full funding of teacher-assistant positions. Think about this again: Since 2013, North Carolina has more than a $1 billion in new funding for teacher raises. What a difference.”

No doubt. What a difference. If I take out all of the plagiarized wording in the entire LTE, I would get this.

“Let’s be proud of our Gov. Pat McCrory and the legislators in their education accomplishments. They increased the average teacher salary by which averages over Since 2013, North Carolina has invested more than $1 billion in new funding for teacher raises. This, my friends, is an in January 2013. now and our Included are: Think about this again: Since 2013, North Carolina has more than a $1 billion in new funding for teacher raises. What a difference. And the teachers all said: Thanks, Gov. McCrory.”

Yep. Pretty apparent. Need to write that D-1.

But it’s Ms. Fleming’s last line that really gets me. Maybe it is supposed to fall off the tongue like a confirmation from the congregation. Ironically, it sounds more like bullshit. No, take that back. It’s a turd’oeuvre.

What it should say is “And the teachers all said: You plagiarized – you get a zero and I will write you up for academic infringement.”

 

How John Oliver’s Segment On Charter Schools Speaks to North Carolina

If you have any interest in why the charter school industry has been under the spotlight in this election year in North Carolina, you might want to check out a segment from the August 22, 2016 episode of Last Week Tonight With John Oliver. If you have HBO GO then you can watch all the episodes of a great show, but if you are a hard-line Trump supporter, you will not agree with a lot of things that Oliver says. Well, not anything he says.

But I do agree with what Oliver says about charter schools. Actually, I agree with a lot of what he says.

He devoted over 18 minutes to the charter school industry in this episode and you can tell that there was so much more to talk about. And yes, it is HBO, so there is a lot of vulgarity, but it’s not gratuitous to me and if your ears are too sensitive to listen to any “f-bomb” being dropped, then don’t view it.

In fact, if Oliver’s language is offending to you, don’t walk down the hall of a large public school. I’ve walked down the halls of small, private Christian schools and heard language that would put hair on your chest. Teenagers cuss. And some do it well. As an educator who teaches rhetoric and argumentation, I have heard some beautifully phrased lude comments come from our nation’s youth. Would I want my daughter saying that? No.

But man, there was no further explanation needed.

I will write about the use of vulgarity later.

But back to Oliver. Here’s the segment. And watch the whole thing –  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_htSPGAY7I .

watch-john-oliver-online.jpg

Interestingly, the segment begins with a lot of presidential hopefuls (mostly GOP) praising charter schools. Obama sings their praises. Even Trump is quoted as saying, “Charter schools work and they work very well.”

In 42 states as well as the District of Columbia over 6700 charter schools are educating over 3 million students. They get to use taxpayer money, but can operate under less transparency like a private school.

And I liked that Oliver did not argue whether the concept of charter schools is bad or not. He agreed that they are good in principle. There are fantastic charter schools here in North Carolina. Many times I have referred to the Arts Based Schools here in Winston-Salem as an example. But they do something that public schools do not. That is using innovative practices to educate students. Their students typically go into traditional public schools for high school.

What Oliver was exploring was the way that many charter schools operate and handle money. And in eighteen minutes he could not begin to dissect all states. He focused mostly on Florida, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Does that lessen what has happened in charter schools here in North Carolina? No. In fact, it really highlights what is happening here in the Old North State.

Remember the DPI report that Lt. Dan Forest wanted redone to shed a more positive light on charter schools here in North Carolina when there were glaring negatives? The report talked about lack of diversity. But it also showed how eager some in Raleigh were in giving charter schools so much freedom to use tax money to proffer a narrative that public schools were failures. I wrote Lt. Forest an open letter about his “championing of charter schools” last January – http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org/2016/01/12/open-letter-from-teacher-takes-dan-forest-to-task-on-charter-schools/. I received no response.

I have also written other prominent lawmakers on their actions to allow charter schools to privatize a constitutionally protected social service with tax money. None have garnered a response to this public school teacher, parent of public school children, and voter.

Here is one to Sen. Jerry Tillman, the godfather of charter schools. Sen. Tillman was instrumental in removing obstacles for charter schools to get up and running without much oversight https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/10/my-one-sided-pen-pal-relationship-with-sen-jerry-tillman-or-why-i-am-are-sending-an-old-letter-with-more-love/ .

Here is one to both Rep. Rob Bryan and Sen. Chad Barefoot on their rush to fund an ASD district here in NC while ignoring the horrible effects that ASD’s have had in other states. My own school system, Winston-Salem / Forsyth County Schools may be involved in this without any local community members having input. Financial improprieties are now hovering over the ASD in Tennessee. North Carolina’s version is not any different   https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/06/29/outsourcing-our-kids-for-profit-rep-rob-bryan-and-sen-chad-barefoot-will-have-much-to-answer-for-in-the-future/ .

And here is one to Sen. David Curtis. He has been very buddy-buddy with a charter school chain that is a for-profit entity   https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/04/28/hes-back-open-letter-to-sen-david-curtis-why-do-you-not-support-public-schools/.

Here in NC, the charter school industry seems to be championed by people who live in more rural areas. Opening a charter school in a rural area can have incredible effects on the traditional public schools there. If enough students are pulled from the public schools, then those public schools have a harder time petitioning for money to actually have resources for their students.

Oliver’s segment also touched on virtual academies, which is under scrutiny here in NC for its attendance problems. In fact, Oliver’s segment could have easily been done on North Carolina’s situation alone, but our charter school industry sometimes gets overshadowed with all of the talk of HB2, Voter ID bills, coal ash spills, and Opportunity Grants.

But there is one common theme or thread that runs through all of those issues related to North Carolina, especially ill-conceived charter schools – everybody pays a price so a few can profit.

Having John Oliver explore this topic on the eve of school starting when so much else is happening in the country and the world should be an indication that something has gone very awry. And it’s costing us.

However, with the State Board of Education having denied the Charter School Advisory Board’s recommendation for almost twenty applications, there might be a little of a change in the air as to how we spend money for schools.

Maybe that is the beginning of restoring sanity in the stewardship of the public’s money for education.

Fifty Shades of No Way – New SBOE Member Todd Chasteen’s First Book To Challenge

Now that Todd Chasteen has now been appointed to the NC State Board of Education, I would like to go ahead and ask that he and others on the board read the latest installment of the Fifty Shades of … book for possible inclusion in schools, or at least in the dialogue of what is happening in North Carolina.

I will offer only this table of contents to the SBOE and Mr. Chasteen in deference to any delicate sensibilities toward works of literature that actually display and describe the human condition through creative use of language, strong diction, vivid imagery, incredible detail, and varying syntax.

I must admit that the other books in this series really are not that well written and have one driving motif, but I would ask that this book, Fifty Shades of No Way, be investigated as it does accurately portray the climate and terrain of the Old North State.

Here is the list of chapter titles. There are 50 –Get it? Fifty Shades of No Way. In each chapter there is deception, manipulation, vivid imagery, hurt feelings, but most of all in each one of them someone is getting screwed pretty hard and often, mainly the citizens of North Carolina.

Enjoy

  1. HB2 – Bathroom Bill
  2. HB3 – 5.5% income tax cap – TABOR
  3. Medicaid Expansion Denied
  4. Voter ID Law
  5. Gerrymandering of Districts
  6. Duke Coal Ash Ponds
  7. Fracking Industry Without Oversight
  8. Teacher Pay still at the bottom tier in the nation
  9. Removal of due-process rights for new teachers
  10. Tom Ross Replaced With Margaret Spellings
  11. Graduate Degree Pay Bumps Removed for new teachers
  12. Bad Teacher Evaluation Systems
  13. Push for Merit Pay
  14. “Average” Raises and neglecting veteran teachers
  15. Central Office Allotment Cuts
  16. Rainy Day Fund That Can’t be Accessed Unless The Apocolypse Comes
  17. Religious Freedom Bill
  18. Attacks on Teacher Advocacy Groups (NCAE)
  19. Revolving Door of Standardized Tests
  20. Less Money Spent per Pupil in Traditional Public Schools
  21. Remove Caps on Class Sizes
  22. Jeb Bush School Grading System
  23. Opportunity Grants Expansion
  24. Allowing Private and Religious Schools To Profit From Tax Payer Money
  25. Charter School Growth Without Regulation
  26. Virtual Schools Deregulation
  27. Achievement School Districts
  28. Reduction of Teacher Candidates in Colleges
  29. Elimination of Teaching Fellows Program
  30. Governor’s Inability to Defend Policies to the Press
  31. Governor’s Unwillingness to Defend Policies to the Press
  32. Attacks on Teacher Assistants
  33. Elimination of State Employees Rights to File Discrimination Suits in State Courts
  34. Pissing Off Bruce Springsteen
  35. Using God and Jesus as Political Crutches
  36. Gov. Dan Forest’s request to have Charter School Report to be Rewritten
  37. Buck Newton Keeping Our State Straight
  38. House Bill 539 – Giving Charters Money For Services They Do Not Provide
  39. Rowan-Salisbury Pepper Spray Proposal
  40. Chad Barefoot’s Appt. to Senate Education Committee Chair
  41. Teach For America Expansion Plans
  42. SB 873 – Access To Affordable College Education Act
  43. Clyde Edgerton and New Hanover County’s Superintendent
  44. What the Teacher Working Conditions Survey Really Said
  45. Arresting of Teachers Who Protested and Saying They Were At Fault
  46. McCrory’s Didaskalithedemosiophobia – Yep, That’s What I said – Look it up on my Blog
  47. SB867 – Background Checking Bill
  48. Appointing People Who Are Not Qualified to the SBOE
  49. Special Sessions of the General Assembly
  50. Surreptitious Midnight Meetings to Craft Bills That Only Benefit a Few

Politics and the God Complex – Putting Jesus on the Ticket

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:5-6 ESV

This post will piss off some people, but here it goes.

I believe Donald Trump is a very smart man. No. Really. Very, very smart.

I also believe that he understands very well how to provoke people. He sees invisible buttons on people that can be pressed and cause visceral reactions in them that will help his presidential aspirations.

  • Wall built by Mexico to keep Mexicans out? Check
  • Ban all Muslims from entering the country? Check
  • Own the Twittersphere? Check
  • Get endorsed by God? Working on it.

Yesterday, Donald Trump addressed a group of “high-profile evangelicals ahead of speaking before a larger group of religious leaders at a gathering hosted by the Christian group, United in Purpose” according to a CNN report (http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/21/politics/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-religion/).

In that meeting, he questioned Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama’s religious affiliations. He said,

“We don’t know anything about Hillary in terms of religion. Now, she’s been in the public eye for years and years, and yet there’s no — there’s nothing out there. There’s like nothing out there. It’s going to be an extension of Obama but it’s going to be worse, because with Obama you had your guard up. With Hillary you don’t, and it’s going to be worse.”

I actually find that humorously hypocritical coming from Trump, a man who has disparaged women, Muslims, Mexicans, and those less fortunate than himself.

Furthermore, if Jesus came back to earth right now I envision him walking around in a pair of blue jeans and wearing a t-shirt with some sandals. And I do not think he would be at Trump rally. Far from it. At least that isn’t the Jesus I have come to understand. To me Jesus wasn’t even religious. He was spiritual.

At the end of his initial meeting in this venue, Trump said something that really struck me as arrogant. He said,

“What you really have to do is pray to get everybody out to vote, for one specific person. And we can’t be — again — politically correct and say we pray for all of our leaders because all of your leaders are selling Christianity down the tube, selling Evangelicals down the tubes.”

You may question who that one specific person might be, but to me there is no doubt that Trump told people to pray that God puts him in the White House.

Of course he did, he’s a salesman. And hypocritical to me.

He is simply trying to buy the evangelical vote. Literally buying it. That’s what he does, because Trump seems to worship money and power.

And nothing could be more unChrist-like in my mind.

But it is amazing how many American politicians seek to gain a political endorsement from the Son of God.

Trump is a smart man. He knows that seeking the endorsement of God is essential to garnering a very faithful voting segment of the population. Many in our state have done it.

Take a visit to the website for the Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation – http://cpcfoundation.com/. That’s .COM. It’s commercially driven.

Now take a look at the North Carolina Caucus members – http://cpcfoundation.com/north-carolina-prayer-caucus-members/. See some familiar names?

  • Governor Dan Forest
  • Senator David Curtis, Co-Chair
  • Senator Chad Barefoot
  • Senator Joyce Krawiec
  • Senator Buck Newton
  • Senator Jerry Tillman
  • Representative Rob Bryan
  • Representative Paul Stam

These eight lawmakers abide by the CPCF’s Vision and Mission which state,

  • Protect religious freedom, preserve America’s Judeo-Christian heritage and promote prayer.
  • The CPCF will restore and promote America’s founding spirit and core principles related to faith and morality by equipping and mobilizing a national network of citizens, legislators, pastors, business owners and opinion leaders.

All in the name of religious freedom. Talk about your separation of church and state.

Look at that list again. I have written all of them before on issues in which I feel they were taking exclusionary and biased approaches that ultimately hurt people.

Not a single one of them has ever written me back or even commented on what I had to say. Maybe they prayed for me. Maybe not. Certainly not out loud. Perhaps in a closet?

To me Jesus never hid behind a religious agenda. In fact, I see his confrontations with the Pharisees and the Sadducees as evidence that those who always claim to know the will of God might be the very people who need “go into their rooms and shut the door and pray to the Father who is in secret.”

Maybe they should not brag about it. Or use it as a political crutch. Or use it as a way to raise money.

Trump cannot really be a part of the CPCF – he is not a politician, but if he could he would because I think he wants that pipeline of “support” to become president.  And he would get donations from that affiliation.

And from what I have seen from the latest news reports, Trump needs a lot of donations.

“License Plates For Lawmakers” or “Why I Live at the DMV”

 

As in most states, North Carolina’s Department of Motor Vehicles allows car owners to purchase a customized license plate and personalize it with individual text and numbers – as long as it is not already taken by another motorist or it is too inappropriate. Monies collected go to the state with a donation made to the entity honored with the plate.

License plates can reflect so much of the owner’s personality, allegiance to college/pro teams or causes, and hobbies. Simply look at the DMV’s site and begin to imagine the possibilities (https://edmv.ncdot.gov/VehicleRegistration/SpecialPlate#term=Standard).

However, with all of the different plates available, I did not see one that honors educators and public schools. Odd that my childhood state of Georgia does this as well as other states, but the fact that my home state North Carolina does not is a little disheartening.

Teachingspeaksvolumes.com I think has a great template for a license plate that clearly embodies the state legislature’s sentiments on public education.

first in flight

Appropriate, right? Maybe a special session of the General Assembly could make this a reality.

But for right now, I just want to concentrate on the two basic plates that the state offers – the classic FIRST in FLIGHT and the newer FIRST in FREEDOM.

Imagine if you had the ability to “test” drive license plates for those people who would be best reflected by the personalization. The irony would not only be humorous, but actually sadistic as well.

So, I present to you LICENSE PLATES FOR LAWMAKERS.

Enjoy.

Note: If the plate is green, then it actually is available in the system.

#1

LGBT

Don’t think so. FIRST in FREEDOM and LGBT are not allowed in the same sentence in NC. But it would be a great tag when HB2 gets repealed.

#2

bathroom

Again, don’t think so. That HB2 thing.

#3

nohb2

I like this one. I can imagine many in the state who would gladly have this adorn their vehicle.

#4

h8hb2

Interestingly, this one would not be allowed. Sounds like Big Brother already has taken this one away.

#5

novoteid

This is available. A great tag to have with the upcoming elections coming up.

#6

commonsense

FIRST in FLIGHT and “Common Sense”. Yep, it sure has flown out of NC. Maybe the governor could have this one.

#7

sanity

FIRST in FLIGHT and SANITY. Dammit, someone’s gotten it!

#8

bullshit

I went middle school on this one. But the fact that it is green is hilarious since it means that it passes the filters.

#9

exptlgbt

FIRST in FREEDOM and EXCEPT LGBT. No truer words said.

 

#10

midlclass

This one wins the award for irony.

#11

hedupass

I can think of a few on West Jones Street this might be appropriate for.

#12

narrowmind

Again, I can think of a few on West Jones Street this might be appropriate for.

 

#13

luvcharters

This one is for the champions of the for-profit charter school industry. Say Sen. Jerry Tillman?

#14

intolrate

Perfect for those who want to revert back to a time when Jim Crow laws were prevalent in NC.

#15

kpncstr8

For Sen. Buck Newton. Also, I heard he never have turns the steering wheel left. He would rather make three rights.

 

#16

ih8tchers

Actually saw this one on Sen. Phil Berger’s car.

 

#17

iluvasd

Rep. Rob Bryan has claim to this one.

 

#18

dpi

I made this one for our current LT. Governor, Dan Forest.

 

#19

fracking

The governor can put this one on his car that still runs on leaded gasoline and gets three miles to the gallon.

 

#20

coalash

Do you think that the governor has a third vehicle?

With the possibilities, you can bet there will be more made for a later date.

Hyperbole, North Carolina – On the Corner of Exaggeration Avenue and Understatement Boulevard

The North Carolina General Assembly began the 2016 short session today and there were many North Carolinians who were in our capitol to meet them.

No doubt much of the rhetoric coming from those in power will be full of double-speak, subtle or severe spin, and void of straight-forward talk about real issues at hand like HB2, Religious Freedom, Opportunity Grants, etc.

Attempting to defend their actions, people like Sen. Berger and other GOP stalwarts have employed the wonderful power of figurative language to paint their exploits in hyperbole, understatements, and absolutes – all in an attempt to convince the rest of NC that they are right because their moral compass points straight to true north.

The following is a list of the top ten quotes from our state leaders in the last three years that display not great rhetorical skill but an oratorical mastery that only the great debaters of ancient Greece could match. (Hyperbole – get it?)

So welcome to Hyperbole, North Carolina – specifically the corner of Exaggeration Avenue and Understatement Boulevard.

  1. Sen. Bob Rucho – “Justice Robert’s pen & Obamacare has done more damage to the USA then the swords of the Nazis,Soviets, & terrorists combined.” – via Twitter in December of 2013.

Wow! That’s hyperbolic twittering if ever, never mind the major errors of subject/verb disagreement, wrongly used apostrophe, and the use of swords.  Even more egregious is that Rucho was a main proponent of denying expansion of Medicaid in North Carolina, a state that has as many as 25% of children in poverty. Talk about damage.

  1. Gov. Pat McCrory on Meet the Press – “Not with — but I’ve met with transgender people in the past, and I’ve met with them since, and have had very positive conversations. Now the conversation with a very powerful group called the Human Relations, uh, Human Rights Council, my gosh, they’re more powerful than the N.R.A., and they have millions of dollars, which makes me want to overturn United, ’cause I don’t know who their donors are either.”

Holy hyperbolics Batman! The “Human Relations, uh” group is more powerful than the NRA – so powerful are they that the governor did not remember their name. And if they have so much money, will they be able to reimburse North Carolina all the money it has lost due to business boycotts in the wake of HB2?

  1. Gov Pat McCrory at a recent Sheriffs Association Meeting when he referred to the HB2 issue as “the elephant in the room.”

Understatement of the year! It is one thing to talk about the real issue at hand when you have been evading it for weeks because you can’t actually defend HB2. But it’ s another to actually go up to that elephant in the room and do a visual gender check on it to see what bathroom it needs to go to.

No sir, that’s its trunk. They all have one.

  1. Sen. Tom Apodaca on the special session called to repeal Charlotte’s ordinance that gave way to HB2. “Charlotte brought this all upon themselves.”

Did someone play “blame game”? When elections for governor and others to replace legislators go in favor of democrats, others may just look back on this past session and say of the very GOP members who championed HB2, “they brought it all upon themselves.”

  1. Sen. Jerry Tillman in a conversation with Sen. Josh Stein about not having to talk about charter school legislation because “he said so”.

“I’m not going to give you the details. A good lawyer would never do that (in a meeting). No, we don’t air dirty laundry here.”

Well, just the fact that a non-lawyer explained what good lawyers do to a lawyer who may be the next state’s attorney general is enough to qualify this as bullshit. And if that bullshit is as thick as it is in this conversation, Sen. Tillman needs to go ahead and clean his pants and air his laundry or it will leave a mark.

  1. Sen. Phil Berger on the teacher pay raises given in 2014. He labeled them as “the largest in state history.”

This is exaggeration using the “Average Bear” technique. If you need an explanation for that, just ask any veteran public school teacher in the state. Note, that it was a ‘’average” raise.

Bill Gates moving to my neighborhood raises the average income per household significantly, but I may have never seen a raise.

  1. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest on PayPal’s announcement to not expand in Charlotte due to HB2 – “If our action in keeping men out of women’s bathrooms and showers protected the life of just one child or one woman from being molested or assaulted, then it was worth it. North Carolina will never put a price tag on the value of our children. They are precious and priceless.”

This is the red herring of the year.

Oddly, the law already states that men cannot do this. And if the life of a child is so precious, then expand Medicaid, fund public schools properly, and do something about the poverty rate. If the life of a woman is so valuable, fight for equal pay for equal work. But if the Lt. Gov. thinks that taking away citizens’ rights to file discrimination suits in state court is protecting people, then this above statement make sense.

  1. Sen. Skip Stam – “LGBT discrimination is OK because pedophilia and bestiality are ‘sexual orientations’ too.”

Stone Age here we come! And that happened before we evolved into a society that burned witches.

  1. Sen. Tommy Tucker – “I am the senator. You are the citizen. You need to be quiet.”

This misinterpretation of his role is analogous to an employee telling his employer, “Shutup! I am the boss here. You just sign my checks and have the ability to fire me in this right to work state.”

In a country where elected officials are supposed to carry the will of the people they represent and be their mouthpiece in government, isn’t it refreshing to know that one of them can think this highly of himself to tell is constituents that they are too stupid to talk?

  1. Sen. Phil Berger on the Religious Freedom Bill that would allow magistrates to not perform same-sex marriages in NC – “Complying with the new marriage law imposed by the courts should not require our state employees to compromise their core religious beliefs and First Amendment rights in order to protect their livelihoods.”

No matter what the constitution says or what the Supreme Court rules, I should have the First Amendment right to protect my livelihood against other people’s constitutionally given right to happiness because I can use God as a political crutch to make a futile argument.

I have no idea what I said, but I do know that I have the right to say it.

So, when someone like Rep. Tim Moore exclaims, “We’re not up here just sitting around doing whatever” (about the long session of 2015) remember that he is right. It takes a lot of time to craft statements in the General Assembly that smell like the ones just mentioned.