Some JT for JT – A Justin Timberlake Mix Tape for Sen. Jerry Tillman

I am a child of the 80’s. Mix tapes are in my genetic makeup.

This is my third mix tape for this blog. The first was a compilation of Bruce Springsteen for Gov. Pat McCrory.

https://dianeravitch.net/2016/06/27/stuart-egan-tea-party-legislature-in-north-carolina-seeks-to-lock-steep-tax-cuts-into-the-state-constitution/

The second was for all of the North Carolina General Assembly and our rocky relationship compiling the best of Taylor Swift who, as we know, is the master of relationships.

https://caffeinatedrage.com/2016/05/14/the-master-of-breakup-songs-and-ended-relationships-a-taylor-swift-mix-tape-for-elected-officials/

Now it is time for one specifically for Sen. Jerry Tillman made up of Justin Timberlake songs.

That’s right – JT for JT.

Now, you will have to use your imagination in some places for the titles and songs to make sense. In other cases, please don’t use your imagination at all. “Rock Your Body” can become a disturbing song with too much imagination.

So here goes:

  1. “Mirrors” from The 20/20 Experience

There’s the chorus – “”I don’t want to lose you now. I’m looking right at the other half of me. ”

However, when relating this song to the senator, I am wishing he would look in the mirror because then he might see what actually a main part of what is making North Carolina lose itself. Sen. Tillman’s constant blaming of the public schools for the rise of unregulated charter schools shows someone who is unwilling to look at himself and his own role in hurting public schools.

Simply put, he needs to look in a mirror.

  1. “Drink You Away” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 0f 2

The chorus starts with “I can’t drink you away / I’ve tried Jack, I’ve tried Jim….”

But I may have found something that will help me drink Tillman away. It’s called the November Election Elixir.

  1. “Summer Love” from FutureSex/LoveSounds

This song is appropriate for not only the current summer season, but it is the senator’s favorite time to legislate bad policies like the voter ID law and charter school deregulation because it is the most active time for the NC General Assembly. How could he not love it?

“I can’t wait to fall in love with the summer session of the NCGA
The summer session of the NCGA  can’t wait to fall in love with me
This just can’t be summer love, you’ll see
This just can’t be summer love.”

I know, more words than notes. JT can make it work.

  1. “SexyBack” from FutureSex/LoveSounds

Sorry, that scared the hell out of me too.

  1. “Not a Bad Thing” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 0f 2

“I know people make promises all the time
Then they turn right around and break them, like you have done for years
And someone like you cuts their heart open with a knife, now NC’s bleeding
But the guy running against you in November could be that guy to heal it over time
And I won’t stop until you leave
Cause baby North Carolina is worth it.”

So don’t act like it’s a bad thing to actually legislate helpful bills for all public school kids.

Yep, not a bad thing to think about.

  1. “Tunnel Vision” from The 20/20 Experience

The title says everything. A limited view of the state of the State of North Carolina gives way to allowing for tunnel vision. At least he’s consistent.

  1. “Cry Me A River” from Justified

“Your bridges were burned, and now it’s your turn
To cry, cry me a river
Cry me a river-er
Cry me a river
Cry me a river-er, yea yea”

This will be the song that I sing when Sen. Jerry Tillman realizes that his obsessive love for unregulated charter schools and the diversion of tax payer money to vouchers and private schools will in the end backfire. They have not worked in the past and they wil not work now. And when he tries to place blame on someone else because he didn’t look in the “Mirror” or get rid of his “Tunnel Vision”, I will just tell him to “Cry Me a River.”

  1. “Take Back the Night” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 0f 2

I hope that we can take back our state in November.

  1. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” released 2016 as a single

I really hope I can sing this in November after we “Take Back the Night” but when I think of how we can “unelect” this group in November and help to transform our state back to a better time for all of its citizens I sing,

“I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on
All through my city, all through my home
We’re flying up, no ceiling, when we in our zone

I got that sunshine in my pocket
Got that good soul in my feet
I feel that hot blood in my body when it drops, ooh
I can’t take my eyes up off it, moving so phenomenally.”

  1. “What Goes Around / Comes Back Around” from FutureSex/LoveSounds

Damn right, it does.

Gollum and his “Precious” – The Achievement School District and What is in Its Pocketses

Yep – I went there.

 

In the latest besmirching of public schools, leaders of the Senate Education Committee gave their approval to an Achievement School District in North Carolina, a GOP backed endeavor that places low performing schools from poverty stricken areas in the hands of out-of-state, for-profit charter organizations.

Past ASD “experiments” have proven disastrous. And at the middle of the meeting, the man who collected the votes and announced the decision was none other than the champion of unregulated charter schools, Sen. Jerry Tillman.

Sen. Tillman is no stranger to the assault on public education in North Carolina. His bills and lawmaking have enabled many charter schools to take public funds and run unregulated creating results that are not measured like traditional schools are so they can be trumpeted as successful.

Billy Ball reported in his article on NC Policy Watch on June 24 (“Senate committee approves controversial charter takeover of low-performing schools”),

“Committee Chair Jerry Tillman, a Republican who supports the measure, declared the “ayes” to have won the vote Friday, although to some listeners, the voice vote appeared to be evenly split or favoring the opposition.“

Tillman was going to make sure it would pass. That’s why there was a voice vote. And the oldest ears in the room declared a winner.

That’s being consumed with power.

At one time Tillman was a public school educator and administrator. He still probably receives a pension from the very entity that he now works against – the public schools. It is almost unbelievable that such a transformation could occur. But power can corrupt.

It is not an uncommon theme, the corruption of power. It is told in many stories. It drives plot. It created transformations in the very characters that cannot get enough power.

I remember reading Lord of the Rings as a teenager. Gripping. Then I went to college here in North Carolina and had this roommate who would in the middle of the night come next to me and lightly say, “What’s the Bagginses gots in his pocketses?”

It would make me release my bladder sometimes. Not gonna lie.

My roommate was taking this course called “Faith and Imagination” from the religion department. They read LOTR because of its allegorical nature. And he loved Gollum. And he quoted him in the most uncomfortable situations.

Too much, I think.

Fast-forward 20+ years and we get Peter Jackson’s epic Lord of the Rings Trilogy on the big screen and then we got a wonderful view of how Gollum could be envisioned.

gollum

That is an interesting fellow. You won’t forget him.

So when I caught a glimpse of a picture of Sen. Jerry Tillman…

tillman

I saw this again –

gollum

Then I thought of this,

tillman

And it all made sense. A once public school official who championed public schools changed into someone who is willing to sell them away using tax payer money.

Smeagol (Gollum before he was Gollum) was once a Halfling like Frodo and Samwise, but something changed him when he discovered the power of the ring – the one ring to rule them all.

ringofpower

If you look very closely it says, “Ash nazg thrakatulûk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul.” Translated, it says, “One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.”

Rumor is that it was created by the for-profit charter school industry in Mordor, which is out of state. It is the “precious” that people like Tillman look to have and it calls the same people to send our public schools into disarray.

Actually that’s not true, but metaphorically-speaking it is spot on.

So precious is the link to the for-profit charter school industry that Tillman is not hesitant to shout the wonderful effects of charter schools when he has no proof otherwise. He was reported as saying in that Senate committee meeting that kids in charter schools do better than kids on regular public schools and that is the reason that the kids in the ASD “district” should be given over to the charter industry. Ball even quoted Tillman as saying, “They will make great growth. That’s a fact.”

Wow! Someone is corrupted by the dark side.

Those who know the story of LOTR remember that the ring is destroyed in the very place where it seemed impossible to go – Mordor. It was a happy ending. Worth rewatching over and over again.

Hopefully here in NC it will be a happy ending when those in power realize that placing our kids in the hands of an impersonal entity through an ASD is not the answer.

Louisiana, Michigan, and Tennessee have already found that out.

TABOR – A Tourniquet Around the Bloodlines of Our Republic

TABOR. To many in the NCGA it is called the TAxpayer Bill of Rights. Makes it sound like it truly benefits those in our state. It doesn’t. It’s just another catchy acronym that acts like a Trojan horse for something more destructive.

Acronyms are easy to shape and easier to sound beneficial. However, the “benefits” of this piece of legislation would be far reaching and would take years to heal from.

In reality TABOR is a Terribly Awful Breach Of Representation, a Totally Asinine Bit Of Reform, and a Truly Abusive Bit Of Rubbish in which people are being forced to Turn All Backs On Reality. It’s a Tremendously Atrocious Bunch Of Refuse Taken Amidst the Bowels Of Rapacity and passed off with a Total Assortment of Baloney Or Rigmarole.

It’s a metaphorical tourniquet, a Tourniquet Around the Bloodlines of Our Republic.

Just think of a tourniquet, a device that constricts blood flow to a limb or extremity. Only in times of medical emergency should a tourniquet be used. Maybe for a poisonous snakebite or a bloody wound. Sometimes one is used to allow for blood to be taken for testing and health purposes.

But one does not place a tourniquet on an arm or leg for kicks and giggles. There are consequences because blood is the very life force that carries oxygen and nutrients to the very parts of the body that need them. Cutting off blood flow has deleterious effects. Bones weaken and muscles atrophy.

That’s not good for a growing body.

Now think of a metaphorical tourniquet, one in which a constricting element is placed on a part of society that cuts off resources and funding for those who are most invested.

GOP leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly are pushing for a proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would cap the income tax rate a 5.5% (currently it is 10%).

That proposal is a political tourniquet, pure and simple. And just as limited blood flow would cause harm to the skeletal system in a body, this measure would cause our state’s infrastructure to slowly disintegrate.

Chris Fitzsimon puts it very bluntly in his latest “The Follies” from June 17, 2016 (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/06/17/the-follies-253/).  He states,

“As the N.C Budget & Tax Center points out, that cap would cut off a vital source of revenue that the state needs and make it virtually impossible for future lawmakers to use the income tax to increase state investments, even in times of emergencies.

It also locks in place the massive tax cuts for the wealthy passed in 2013 that will cost more than $2 billion a year when fully in effect, more than the entire budget of the community college system and early childhood programs combined.

The new lower tax cap could threaten the state’s coveted AAA bond rating and force increases in the state sales tax and could lead local governments to raise property taxes and fees.  It’s a terrible idea that threatens funding for public schools, health care, and environmental protections and makes decisions for future members of the General Assembly that will be elected by the voters just like the current members were.”

That’s scary to think about. The very fabric, the very sinews of society like schools, healthcare, and environmental protections would be instantly jeopardized and it would take years to recover as part of the GOP’s plan is to change the constitution of the state.

Remember that all three of those areas (schools, healthcare, and environment) have already been hazardously affected in the last three years here in North Carolina.

Per pupil expenditures are lower, charter school growth is uncontrolled, and teacher pay is still low despite what the current administration wants to boast.

Medicaid expansion was denied and we as a state are still paying into a system that benefits other states but not ours because of political ideology and a dislike for the current president.

The fracking industry is being given an open door and permission to do whatever it wants. Duke Energy’s coal ash spills have still gone relatively unpunished.

Those three areas alone form a large part of our state’s infrastructure, or rather the skeleton of the state’s body. When these areas are harmed, then the need to help them heal is paramount. When bones and muscles have been damaged in a body, then one does not place a tourniquet on the wounded limb. You make sure that blood is flowing amply into the affected area.

It promotes healing. It promotes health.

That is unless those who want to place the tourniquet on those parts of society want to create a situation where amputation is the only option in the end. And while we could not literally amputate the public school system or the environment, we can do the political equivalent – privatize them. It would allow a few select people to profit over the very institutions that our state is supposed to provide.

Think about the effects on K-12 public education, community colleges, the public university system, public assistance programs, health care, correctional facilities, transportation, economic development, parks and recreation, environmental projects, state police forces, and aid to local governments.

You place a tourniquet on those items and you stagnate the growth of a state whose population is growing. And when the bone structure cannot handle the weight of a growing body, then… well you can imagine.

Proponents of the amendment to cap income taxes will tout that it means more money for people to spend on their own. It would allow for people to have more choices within their power. But unless you can send your students to private schools, have your own libraries and media outlets, pay for all out of pocket medical expenditures, hire your own security team, have your own environmental control, or set up your own recreational facilities, then you may be out of luck.

Even John Hood of the John Locke Foundation, a self-professed “conservatarian,” expounds on the role of the state in keeping a strong infrastructure. He says in his op-ed “How to read this column” printed in the June 19th edition of the Winston-Salem Journal (http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/john-hood-how-to-read-this-column/article_1b7789ac-1fcf-5389-a6be-eca653d233bc.html) ,

“So I believe government should (and always will) exist to protect individual rights and to finance certain core services that, because of collective-action problems, will not be adequately provided through purely voluntary means. At the state and local level, those services include public safety and health, education and some infrastructure.”

And to place a cap on state income tax as being proposed would hurt the ability for the state to finance those “core services”.

Ironic that people who are pushing for this cap like Sen. Tom Apodaca, Sen. Jerry Tillman, Sen. Bob Rucho, and Sen. Bill Rabon are public officials elected by the public who seem more interested in placing a tourniquet on the very services that they are sworn to protect and provide the public.

Actually, it isn’t ironic, but rather consistent and predictable.

Just look at what has happened in the last three years here in North Carolina.

So tell Tom Apodaca, Buck, Or Rucho that this is nothing more than surreptitious politics. Let Tillman, Andrew Brock Or Rabon know this is not good.
And vote it down if it comes up in November.

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”, Part 2

AS I have said before, 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).

Try it. It’s fun.

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.

So, I have made some more.

AND ALL OF THESE ARE GREEN LIGHTED. THAT MEANS I COULD ORDER THEM. WHO’S WITH ME?

  1. For Rep. Cecil Brockman who said in arguing for the Achievement School District, “If (teachers) don’t like it, good. This is about the kids. Who cares about the teachers? We should care about the kids. If they don’t like it, maybe it’s a good thing.”

hedupasd

 

2. This one is for Sen. Jerry Tillman, the champion of unregulated charter school growth.

h8pubschl

3. This one is for U.S. Senator Thom Tillis and his unrelenting stance on allowing people ot buy guns meant for military use even after the Orlando Massacre.

luvnra

4. and 5. These next two are for Gov. Pat McCrory and his inability to still explain HB2.

6. This plate is for Gov. McCrory’s hybrid that he drives to coal ash ponds that contaminate water for NC citizens.

clenh20

7. This is for Art Pope.

privatize

8. This is for Sen. Phil Berger and his attempts to spin his policies in such a way that it may appear to be beneficial to average North Carolinians.

spindr

9. For Donald Trump, since he will be in NC often in the next few months.

tinyhand

10. For Sen. Tom Apodaca and his hatred for Charlotte and its audacity to pas an ordinance protecting LBGT citizens from discrimination.

blameclt

11. This last one is for the governor. He has this on the car he uses to drive away from reporters who ask questions about his policies that he really doesn’t have answers for.

uscareme

When a Tourniquet Is Put On The State’s Core Services, It Leads To Amputation and Privatization

Think of a tourniquet, a device that constricts blood flow to a limb or extremity. Only in times of medical emergency should a tourniquet be used. Maybe for a poisonous snakebite or a bloody wound. Sometimes one is used to allow for blood to be taken for testing and health purposes.

But one does not place a tourniquet on an arm or leg for kicks and giggles. There are consequences because blood is the very life force that carries oxygen and nutrients to the very parts of the body that need them. Cutting off blood flow has deleterious effects. Bones weaken and muscles atrophy.

That’s not good for a growing body.

Now think of a metaphorical tourniquet, one in which a constricting element is placed on a part of society that cuts off resources and funding for those who are most invested.

GOP leaders in the North Carolina General Assembly are pushing for a proposal to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would cap the income tax rate a 5.5% (currently it is 10%).

That proposal is a political tourniquet, pure and simple. And just as limited blood flow would cause harm to the skeletal system in a body, this measure would cause our state’s infrastructure to slowly disintegrate.

Chris Fitzsimon puts it very bluntly in his latest “The Follies” from June 17, 2016 (http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2016/06/17/the-follies-253/).  He states,

“As the N.C Budget & Tax Center points out, that cap would cut off a vital source of revenue that the state needs and make it virtually impossible for future lawmakers to use the income tax to increase state investments, even in times of emergencies.

It also locks in place the massive tax cuts for the wealthy passed in 2013 that will cost more than $2 billion a year when fully in effect, more than the entire budget of the community college system and early childhood programs combined.

The new lower tax cap could threaten the state’s coveted AAA bond rating and force increases in the state sales tax and could lead local governments to raise property taxes and fees.  It’s a terrible idea that threatens funding for public schools, health care, and environmental protections and makes decisions for future members of the General Assembly that will be elected by the voters just like the current members were.”

That’s scary to think about. The very fabric, the very sinews of society like schools, healthcare, and environmental protections would be instantly jeopardized and it would take years to recover as part of the GOP’s plan is to change the constitution of the state.

Remember that all three of those areas (schools, healthcare, and environment) have already been hazardously affected in the last three years here in North Carolina.

Per pupil expenditures are lower, charter school growth is uncontrolled, and teacher pay is still low despite what the current administration wants to boast.

Medicaid expansion was denied and we as a state are still paying into a system that benefits other states but not ours because of political ideology and a dislike for the current president.

The fracking industry is being given an open door and permission to do whatever it wants. Duke Energy’s coal ash spills have still gone relatively unpunished.

Those three areas alone form a large part of our state’s infrastructure, or rather the skeleton of the state’s body. When these areas are harmed, then the need to help them heal is paramount. When bones and muscles have been damaged in a body, then one does not place a tourniquet on the wounded limb. You make sure that blood is flowing amply into the affected area.

It promotes healing. It promotes health.

That is unless those who want to place the tourniquet on those parts of society want to create a situation where amputation is the only option in the end. And while we could not literally amputate the public school system or the environment, we can do the political equivalent – privatize them. It would allow a few select people to profit over the very institutions that our state is supposed to provide.

Think about the effects on K-12 public education, community colleges, the public university system, public assistance programs, health care, correctional facilities, transportation, economic development, parks and recreation, environmental projects, state police forces, and aid to local governments.

You place a tourniquet on those items and you stagnate the growth of a state whose population is growing. And when the bone structure cannot handle the weight of a growing body, then… well you can imagine.

Proponents of the amendment to cap income taxes will tout that it means more money for people to spend on their own. It would allow for people to have more choices within their power. But unless you can send your students to private schools, have your own libraries and media outlets, pay for all out of pocket medical expenditures, hire your own security team, have your own environmental control, or set up your own recreational facilities, then you may be out of luck.

Even John Hood of the John Locke Foundation, a self-professed “conservatarian,” expounds on the role of the state in keeping a strong infrastructure. He says in his op-ed “How to read this column” printed in the June 19th edition of the Winston-Salem Journal (http://www.journalnow.com/opinion/columnists/john-hood-how-to-read-this-column/article_1b7789ac-1fcf-5389-a6be-eca653d233bc.html) ,

“So I believe government should (and always will) exist to protect individual rights and to finance certain core services that, because of collective-action problems, will not be adequately provided through purely voluntary means. At the state and local level, those services include public safety and health, education and some infrastructure.”

And to place a cap on state income tax as being proposed would hurt the ability for the state to finance those “core services”.

Ironic that people who are pushing for this cap like Sen. Tom Apodaca, Sen. Jerry Tillman, Sen. Bob Rucho, and Sen. Bill Rabon are public officials elected by the public who seem more interested in placing a tourniquet on the very services that they are sworn to protect and provide the public.

Actually, it isn’t ironic, but rather consistent and predictable.

Just look at what has happened in the last three years here in North Carolina.

I Can Do Math Well Enough to Know That Sen. Jerry Tillman’s Policies Don’t Add Up

Sen. Jerry Tillman’s grasp on educational reality is about as strong my grasp of string theory or a Calculus BC exam – loose at best.

The former public school administrator has again launched an ill-conceived rash boon piece of legislation through the Senate that demands schools to offer two tracks of math courses.

I am not a math teacher. In fact, according to my wife, I am rather poor in explaining mathematical concepts to our children when they are faced with math homework. But I do know that all of a sudden changing the course tracks in high schools will present an incredible challenge for schools to adequately teach those differing courses in high schools in such a quick amount of time.

Sen. Tillman think it can be done in the blink of an eye. He was quoted in an EdNC.org report ((https://www.ednc.org/2016/06/09/senate-moves-state-one-step-closer-split-high-school-math-tracks),

“If you can teach math, your same certifications are required, same students, same allotment of teachers. Not gonna change,” he said.

Tillman said the practical aspect of teaching could be accomplished by having a teacher teach Algebra I alongside Math 1 in the same class.

“With a good teacher, you can do it,” he said.

So, teaching two subjects in the same classroom? In the same amount of time? With two different pedagogical approaches? Of course, Sen. Tillman would think that. He believes there should be a charter school built next to every public school. Two schools for one student. Makes sense. At least with Tillman’s math.

Here is the man who has literally ramrodded unregulated charter school growth down the throats of the very public he claims to represent. Here is the man who is pushing for more tax payer money to fund the very charter schools he wants built to make public schools seem inferior. Here is the man who helped institute a public school grading system that unfairly labeled hundreds of schools as failing so that it would create a “reason” to bring in more charter schools.

So forcing schools to teach more courses to the same number of students with an ever decreasing amount of resources is good math within a matter of weeks is good legislation? Coming from a bunch of non-math experts?

Of course it is. Not. It is purely political.

If you read Sen. Tillman’s comments from the June 16th report by Alex Granados in EdNC.org (https://www.ednc.org/2016/06/16/senate-passes-bill-require-high-school-math-tracks/ ), you will see the strong-arm method of debate that is often used by the senator when he senses that others disagree with him.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Buncombe, first said he wouldn’t vote for the bill because it didn’t extend to the way math is taught at the elementary school level, where he said damage was being done with the teaching methods currently being used.

“I’m not voting for this bill, because this bill doesn’t do enough,” he said.

Tillman fired back that if Apodaca wanted to be stuck with Common Core, not supporting his bill would make that happen.

“If you don’t like choice, and you want to be stuck with the June Atkinson/Bill Cobey Common Core, well that’s exactly what you’re going to get,” Tillman said.

June Atkinson is the state Superintendent, and Bill Cobey is the chair of the state Board of Education.

Wow! Dr. Atkinson and Mr. Cobey invented Common Core?

If we can add names to ideas and concepts in order to plague them with ill associations, then I have plenty in mind. Maybe when a lawmaker berates others because they see a lack of reason in his proposals as being inferior we can call it the “Tillman Argument”. But I digress.

Call it a “Tillman Digression”.

Whether or not you like Common Core, it shows people how easily education gets politicized. And when education gets politicized, it becomes a child in a contested divorce case between different sets of parental entities whose egos and personalities cloud the principles under which all should abide by.

Except, this is not a child – it’s our students.

Sen. Tillman has already shown his cards. He is not a man truly connected to public education. If anything, his record has shown a complete disdain for schools coated under a clear veneer of bullshit.

This next bit from Granados’s report shows that very manure which covers Sen. Tillman’s words.

Tillman said that large and medium level schools and districts should be able to handle the change without additional financial resources, but that smaller schools with fewer math teachers might struggle. He said he was committed to making sure they were allowed the funds they needed to compensate.

I am sorry, but the words “funds”, “resources”, “committed”, and public “schools” have never collided in the same sentence when it comes to Sen. Tillman. Ask anyone following the General Assembly’s deliberate underfunding of traditional public schools. Tillman’s voice is usually heard loudest.

If he is all about offering “choices”, then I choose to allow for more investigation into the math courses already offered. I choose to let more math educators speak on the matter since they are the ones in the classrooms. I choose that we take the time needed to allow for an educated decision.

But if Sen. Tillman is so intent on bringing back the “old” math maybe he can use it to fund public schools with the ”old “numbers” and “percentages” that public schools used to be supported with.

I’d take that math anytime.

My One-Sided Pen Pal Relationship With Sen. Jerry Tillman – Or Why I Am Sending An Old Letter With More Love

What follows is an open letter to Sen. Jerry Tillman most of which I plagiarized from a letter I wrote to him in the summer of 2015. Ironically, actually no, it still holds truth. Nothing has changed. So I am revising it with a little more info. And resending.

What I have done is edit it to include the new House Bill 539 and the new math revisions that the state is considering. Sen. Tillman’s brash style and rush to put in unproven charters are just two of the reasons that he should not be representing students in North Carolina.

Sen. Tillman,
Your crusade to create a lucrative charter school industry at the hands of public schools again has reached new heights of irrationality and hubris, and it is indicative of an exclusionary attitude when it comes to serving the people of North Carolina.

I am not surprised that you as a leader of the GOP caucus in the North Carolina General Assembly would spearhead a campaign to keep privatizing education in North Carolina, but the fact that you are a retired public school educator pushing this agenda makes me think that your commitment to provide a quality education to all of our state’s children simply vanished when you took an “oath” as a politician.

This latest version of House Bill 539 has your fingerprints all over it. What started as a bill that would regulate public access to school playgrounds has now transformed into a heated debate that is taking up lots of space in numerous media outlets concerning your unquenchable thirst to siphon funds away from public schools to charter schools.

Your unwillingness to listen to others was on display in another arena when you recently discussed whether the math standards should be changed for public schools. One simply needs to go to the EdNC.org site and review that report (https://www.ednc.org/2016/06/09/senate-moves-state-one-step-closer-split-high-school-math-tracks). Your simple and absolute claims about the teaching profession do more than show your shortsightedness. They show your narrow-mindedness. The following was reported from Alex Granados about your explanation of how the old and new math could be taught together.

If you can teach math, your same certifications are required, same students, same allotment of teachers. Not gonna change,” he said.


Tillman said the practical aspect of teaching could be accomplished by having a teacher teach Algebra I alongside Math 1 in the same class.


“With a good teacher, you can do it,” he said.
So, teaching two subjects in the same classroom? In the same amount of time? With two different pedagogical approaches? Of course, you would think that. You believe there should be a charter school built next to every public school. Two schools for one student. Makes sense. Not.

And these are just two examples from this week alone. Let’s revisit the last year or so.
Remember House Bill 334 from the summer of 2015? As reported on July 23rd in Lindsay Wagner’s news story entitled “Tillman’s bill impacts charter school oversight”, you championed an amendment to that bill to place oversight of charter schools under the care of the State Board of Education and out of the Department of Public Instruction’s jurisdiction.

What House Bill 334 would have done was to spend more money on charters by creating a situation where you can protect them from checks and balances. It was a way for you to fashion a favorable situation for new charter schools to not only operate more freely, but be less transparent.

Ms. Wagner also detailed the abrupt manner in which you fielded questions from other legislators who were concerned with the surreptitious manner in which you operated. You made ludicrous statements such as:

  • · “DPI was never in love … with charter .”
  • · “I’m not going to give you the details. A good lawyer would never do that.”
  • · “We don’t air dirty laundry here.”

In truth your disdain for DPI actually arises from their ability to identify indiscretions with many charter schools that needed to be corrected. And the quip about details? That’s odd. You are a lawmaker. You should produce details. In fact, good lawyers very much pay attention to details. As for the dirty laundry, with the stuff you are dishing out, someone needs to do the laundry now!

Remember the June 4th report by Laura Leslie for WRAL entitled “Senate Education Leader blasts charter chief”? That detailed your outburst in a meeting concerning why DPI refused to grant charters for many new charter school applications. Reading your comments makes you sound like a playground bully who did not get his way. The first few sentences of the report used phrases like “angry outburst” and “public dressing-down” to describe your tirade. 
 
Remember SB 456 from April of 2015? I will refer to the April 28th edition of the Winston-Salem Journal, when education writer Arika Herron reported that you proposed a bill which “would send more money to charter schools” by taking more from traditional public schools in next year’s budget (“NC Senate bill would send more money to charter schools”).  

You publicly ignore and even champion the ignorance that charter schools can practice exclusion and in many cases divert public funds to unregulated entities. Charter schools are not required to offer transportation or provide free/reduced lunches. They can selectively limit enrollment and hire non-certified educators. Most charter schools simply lack transparency. And a further consequence is that your pro-charter legislation targets poorer people because you introduced bills that would exclude more poor people (who still pay taxes) from the benefits of a quality education that you perceive only charter schools can give.  

Sen. Tillman, you do not seem to care if your wish to expand charter schools actually widens the income gap that so much grips our state. Remember Feb. 23rd, 2011? You were shown on a video posted by Rob Schofield on the ncpolicywatch.org website. You fielded a question that expressed concern over whether lower-income kids could have equal chances to attend charter schools. Your response was indicative of the exclusionary attitude that your proposed bill embraces.

You said,

“It’s certainly okay if they don’t go there [the charter school]. They can go to their public schools. They can get their free and reduced price lunch. And they can do that. But the charter school itself and the commission must decide what they can do and when they can do it financially. And that’s where we are now and that’s where we’re gonna’ be and I’m certainly for that.”

 
With a response like that, how can you claim to represent all North Carolinians? The fact is that no matter the socioeconomic background of the students, traditional schools do succeed when proper resources are allotted (money, textbooks, time, respect, etc.). When teachers have the support of the public AND the legislature, any school can show student growth. However, your statement leads one to think that you are promoting exclusivity based on income levels.

And this is not the first time that you have alienated those who suffer from poverty.
You were a primary sponsor for the Voting Reform Act in the 2013-2014 sessions, leading the charge to fight non-existent voter fraud in our state by fast-tracking a voter ID law that was purposefully constructed to keep many people’s voices from being heard, especially minority and low-income citizens. Remember that? If these people are silenced, then how can they democratically affect outcomes in elections that may sanction positive change for their children and grandchildren including issues surrounding public education? You seem to be denying them the very right that you have sworn to protect and uphold as an elected official.

As a public school teacher, I am amazed that you continue to belittle the very public schools that you yourself once served as a teacher, coach, principal and assistant superintendent – for over 40 years! You are drawing a pension for being a public school retiree!

But now you are a seven-term state senator and a willing participant in transforming North Carolina from what was considered the most progressive state in the Southeast into what has regressed into a stagnated commonwealth ruled by reactionary policies.

And what seems most egregious is that you are the co-chairman of the Senate’s Education Committee. Your decisions impact ALL STUDENTS! You have a direct influence in how schools are funded, what they can teach, and how they are measured. Surely you remember the Jeb Bush inspired letter-grading system you helped implement that found most “failing” schools in North Carolina resided in areas where there were concentrated pockets of poverty.

As a public official you are under oath to uphold the state’s constitution which ensures all students a quality public education. Instead you are compromising all students in traditional schools while taking more of the valuable money and resources allocated for them to give to charter schools that do not have to abide by the same regulations.

If you truly want to positively impact public education, then invest more in pre-K programs and expand Medicaid so more kids come to school healthy and prepared. Reinstitute the Teaching Fellows program to keep our bright future teachers here in North Carolina. Then give decent raises to veteran teachers so they finish their careers here instead of in other states.

Real leaders take away obstacles that impede those who are served. You are creating more and becoming one yourself.

Stuart Egan, NBCT

West Forsyth High School

Clemmons, NC