The Locker Room

February 19, 2010

Perdue announces new jobs for Cobb, Carey

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 4:10 PM

From the governor's office:

Gov. Bev Perdue today announced that Secretary of Administration Britt Cobb will move into the role of chief of staff in the Governor’s Office. Joining him as chief deputy will be Kevin McLaughlin, who currently serves as the chief operating officer and general counsel of the Department of Administration.

The governor appointed Moses Carey, who moves from his current role as chairman of the Employment Security Commission (ESC), as the Secretary of Administration. Lynn Holmes will step in to his vacated seat.

Anne Bander will serve as chief operating officer of the Department of Administration, and David Clegg will continue his leadership as deputy chairman and chief operating officer of the ESC.

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AFPNC on Del Burns: 'He needs to exit immediately'

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 3:04 PM

From Dallas Woodhouse of Americans for Prosperity North Carolina:

An Open Letter to the Citizens of Wake County and Mr. Del Burns:

Mr. Burns has announced his retirement from the Wake County Public School System. It should be noted that he did not resign his position but simply announced his retirement date. We wish Mr. Burns well in retirement, and after his temper tantrum yesterday it is clear he should be allowed or forced to depart the Wake County Public School System immediately.

In announcing his departure, Mr. Burns stated he had respect for the new board members. He then in a series of media interviews accused them of having partisan political agendas. He accused them of not caring about children. It is the same over the top rhetoric we hear from defenders of the discredited busing policy.

With a series of publicized media interviews, Mr. Burns has disqualified himself to administer the Wake County School System. He expressed his personal opinions about the newly elected School Board, their policies and his disagreement with those policies.

What do the North Carolina statutes say about the roles and responsibilities of school superintendents? According to §115C‑276(a), "In General. – All acts of local boards of education, not in conflict with State law, shall be binding on the superintendent, and it shall be his duty to carry out all rules and regulations of the board."

- The superintendent is an ex officio secretary to his board.

- The local boards shall prescribe the duties of the superintendent.

North Carolina's laws leave little doubt that the superintendent, appropriately called an administrator, works for the elected school board.

What would happen to a CEO of a company if he met with the media and told them how boneheaded were the policies of the Board of Directors? What would happen to a City Manager who met with the media and told them how wrong were the policies of the elected City Council?

For years, Del Burns agreed with the majority of the School Board and controlled the flow of information to the school board. This information ensured the kinds of outcomes consistent with his goals and vision.

So Mr. Burns does not agree with the new ideas presented by the new School Board who by the way, were elected by the voters. Is it not possible that some changes are warranted in the Wake County Schools? After all, graduation rates for black, Hispanic, and low-income students continue to decline.

Last year, the Wake County Schools graduated just over half of low-income students on time, a sharp decline from the 63 percent of students who graduated in 2007. Have we given up? Should the new School Board simply say this is good enough?

It says a lot that Mr. Burns cares more about socioeconomic diversity than diversity of opinion.

Unlike past school boards, the current one refuses to exalt the superintendent as an educational and organizational authority beyond reproach.

The current school board merely believes that the position of school superintendent should return to the role of the office as outlined in state law.

The school board should not let this distraction get in the way of its work – diligently serving the families of Wake County.

Elections have consequences. Elections matter. It is clear Mr. Burns disagrees with those election results. Since he can not live with the outcome as directed by the voters, he needs to exit immediately.

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NC tax collections update

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 1:45 PM

The latest numbers show ordinary tax collections are about 2.8 percent below forecast. Including the Department of Revenue's successful initiative to boost corporate tax collections, the trend is near the forecast mark.

Economic recovery is not moving as quickly as expected, which has reduced sales tax collections and increased Medicaid (+$250 million) and community college spending ("unprecedented growth").

Whatever happens the rest of this year, however late you get your tax refund, and whatever the budget looks like for the next fiscal year, problems will only grow in FY 2011-12 when the federal bailout funds disappear.

On the bright side, the legislature does not return until May.

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Bev's "favor" to North Carolina companies

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 12:58 AM

Gov. Bev Perdue's latest Executive Order offers a new taxpayer-funded subsidy to a small group of companies. This group is North Carolina-based companies doing business with the state. These companies will be able to submit a bid up to 5% or $10,000 higher than their out-of-state competitors.

It is not about jobs. Fidelity Investments, based in Boston but employing thousands of people in North Carolina, would have to underbid Bank of America, based in Charlotte, by at least five percent to win a state contract.

It is not about the economy. Few North Carolina companies do business with the state. When the state pays more for a product or service, that money either has to come from another program or from higher taxes - taxes paid by every other company and worker in the state. And North Carolina already has one of the worst business tax climates in the country.

It is not about results. Other state subsidies and targeted corporate welfare programs have failed too many times to expect this one to work better. If those other programs worked, the state would not now be on its way to borrowing more than $2 billion from the federal government to pay unemployment benefits.

This is simply a PR stunt by the governor that will make North Carolina even less friendly to businesses and workers in the name of helping a privileged few.

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A strong dissent on Obama's deficit commission

Posted by George Leef at 11:53 AM

Stephen Moore, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says that the choice of former Wyoming senator Alan Simpson to co-chair (along with Erskine Bowles, who is stepping down from his UNC presidency) is terrible. Read Moore's piece here.

IMHO, this is another instance of Obama voting "present." He wants to delay and duck responsibility for the astounding growth of federal spending and debt, so he appoints a commission to study the problem and offer "solutions." You could say this is "passing the buck" but trillions of them.

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The diversity superintendent?

Posted by Melissa Mitchell at 10:56 AM

Yesterday, Terry Stoops noted that North Carolina laws are clear that the Wake County superintendent works for the school board, not the other way around. For many Wake County parents, Burns' actions and statements the last few days illustrate perfectly the frustration that many parents have experienced with the Wake County School system. The Wake School board, administration, and the bureaucrats at central office have shown a total disregard for students and parents, setting themselves up as the experts who know what was best for every student and student’s family in Wake County.

Past school boards have rubber stamped every policy coming from the superintendent and central office. It is this arrogant attitude that precipitated the election of the new school board members.

Now the diversity superintendent cannot handle diversity. In talking to some Wake parents, they are disappointed that Burns has exhibited an immature attitude and encouraged divisiveness within the community. His attitude of, it’s my ball and if you don’t play by my rules, I will take my ball and go home is in direct conflict with how a N.C. school system should operate and is unworthy of a superintendent.

As for those who think Burns is irreplaceable, they need to understand - no one is irreplaceable. Burns made his decision. He needs to be go immediately and go quietly. Hopefully, most of central will also choose to retire.

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Re: Public school forum

Posted by Jacob Burgdorf at 10:38 AM

I wonder why the criticism the John Locke Foundation offered was illegitimate (as implied by the unsigned editorial comment). Is it because our name "implies a bias toward remaining fixed in the 1700 and 1800’s" [sic]? Perhaps it is because ideas from the 1700s and 1800s (not to mention the 1600s) could not possibly have any relevance to today's world and therefore are illegitimate? In any regards, this was not taken up by the author.

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Re: Public school forum

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 10:15 AM

I would have guessed the NC history guidelines just had an IPCC-style typo and meant to have 11th grade history start in 1787 instead, not 1877. But the Public School Forum has corrected me of that impression -- reading their statement, it is clear that the Constitution dates from 1776.

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Re: a long respnse

Posted by Dr. Roy Cordato at 10:09 AM

It's not surprising [it's also quite comical] that an editorial writer defending a history curriculum where events and people that had influence before 1877 are left out, places John Locke in "1700 and 1800's" [sic].

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Money-saving school calendars

Posted by Joseph Coletti at 09:40 AM

Wake County uses a year-round public school calendar to save money. Wilkes County uses a 162-day public school calendar for the same reason. Wilkes County claims savings of $900,000 a year. Wake County has not estimated the savings from year-round schools.

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Re: A long response to the NC Public School Forum

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:29 AM

  Peter Schramm, president of the Ashbrook Center, posted the comment below on the Center’s blog “No Left Turns.”  While he is not commenting on the NC History controversy directly, his comment is directly relevant to why the founding and our founding documents are relevant to today's politics.  In fact, Professor Schramm believes that Xenophon and the Greeks are also relevant today.  Note the observation of one of his students in the second paragraph.  I wish NC high schools students were given this kind of education about politics, but of course that would mean that their teachers would have read and understand Xenophon.  I suspect that he is an author not taught in any education school in the country.


Schramm’s advice to Republican politicians in the last paragraph is also spot on because it advises them to break out of the progressive’s mindset (see  my previous post) that so many of them are trapped in and teach the true meaning of American politics.


The news of the day and the week and the month is a dysfunctional Congress, a hyper-partisan Congress, a broken system without leadership, even brain-dead politics. John Podesta, a Democrat and an Obama man, said to a British paper that the health of US politics "sucks". Evan Bayh agrees. This, of course, is wrong. This WSJ Editorial is closer to the truth: We are in the middle of the fourth Liberal crackup and the so-called mess is not unprecedented in American politics.


Equally pregnant with meaning, a student said something interesting to me yesterday. He said he now understood why the first book Ashbrook Scholars read as freshmen is Xenophon's "Education of Cyrus"; the class is Understanding Politics. Other things aside, men are hard to govern, Xenophon begins. Then the student said that American men may be especially hard to govern. I said, yup, not bad, that's why you to try to understand the American mind and read the Constitution the second semester; the class is called Democracy in America. Our current politics isn't brain dead politics at all and the system isn't broken. It's working exactly as it should. It is supposed to be messy and inefficient; it's supposed to be difficult to form a majority and even once formed, it should be difficult to govern. That majority had better be a constitutional one, or the people will not be amused. The people prefer self-government to being pushed around by haughty lefties. Yet they are open to being persuaded, they are willing to have conversations about things; but they are unwilling to be called names, or to have "the system" decried.


Now--over the next year or two--we will find out if the Republicans can explain to folks why this is a good thing, and why politics is much more than "public policy" and "problem solving" as the progressives would have us think. If Republicans can do this--use these interesting times to make a powerful argument for limited constitutional government and why it is a fine thing--they will prosper, as will the American way of self-government. In the meantime, those Democrats who claim to be in the majority (and claim to be representing the interest of the people) but continue to whine about how they cannot get anything done will continue to suck pond water.


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Re: A long response to the NC Public School Forum

Posted by Dr. Michael Sanera at 09:18 AM


If the NC Public School Forum believes that the Constitution and the founding are irrelevant to the problems we face today, they should go on record urging the removal of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence from the Archives building. Seriously, the Forum statement you quote reveals the hidden agenda. American history after 1877 is, for the most part, the history of the Progressive ideology. That ideology has worked for more than one hundred years to subvert and replace the ideas behind the Declaration and the Constitution. And it has been largely successful. Woodrow Wilson was the only president to hold a PhD in political science and, as one of the leading Progressive scholars, he argued relentlessly against the fundamental provisions of the Constitution such as the separation of powers and the checks and balances.

Here is what Wilson said about the separation of powers: “the more power is divided the more irresponsible it becomes.” The checks and balances “have proved mischievous just to the extent to which they have succeeded in establishing themselves as realities.” and “No living thing can have its organs [the three branches] offset against each other as checks, and live….Government is…a body of men…Their cooperation is indispensable, their warfare fatal.” Learn more about the Progressive attack on the Constitution and the Declaration go here and here. Finally, Forum's criticism of John Locke is consistent with Progressive ideology because the new American history curriculum that starts in 1877 is a fundamental rejection of John Locke’s philosophy that was adopted by the founders. Instead, students will be taught progressive ideology that takes its philosophy from the German philosopher Hegel.

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Two letters in today's Wall Street Journal

Posted by George Leef at 09:16 AM

Two North Carolina residents landed letters in today's WSJ, commenting on Peggy Noonan's column of last Saturday, M.B. Blankenship, Jr. and me.

It Is Noble to Hold to One's Ideals

Regarding Peggy Noonan's "The Off-Center President" (Declarations, Feb. 13): Although the president may be the wrong man with the wrong ideas, there is something admirable in his willingness to sacrifice the politics of electability for the statesmanship of ideals. Isn't this the ideal taught in our civics classes?

M.B. Blankenship Jr.

Woodleaf, N.C.

I agree with Peggy Noonan's argument that the president is "off-center" but she is utterly mistaken in asserting that President Franklin Roosevelt's administration "took a new and different path."

The standard leftist narrative about our history holds that President Herbert Hoover was a die-hard laissez-faire advocate who wouldn't budge from his capitalist convictions even as the nation's economy spun into the Great Depression. The truth is that Hoover was a "big government conservative" who believed that aggressive federal economic intervention would speed recovery and reduce suffering. He specifically rejected the advice of Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon that the best policy would be the same as President Warren Harding had pursued after the sharp 1920-21 recession: to cut taxes, cut federal spending and allow market adjustments to proceed unimpeded.

FDR did not take the country down a different path, but accelerated rapidly down the failed, counter-productive statist path Hoover had chosen. The parallels between the Hoover-Roosevelt era and the Bush-Obama era are striking.

George C. Leef

Raleigh, N.C.

To Mr. Blankenship, I say, that it may be noble to sacrifice of yourself for your ideals, but Obama intends to sacrifice the liberty and property of millions of Americans who want no part of his grand schemes. That is not noble.

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A long response to the NC Public School Forum

Posted by Dr. Terry Stoops at 07:53 AM

Two weeks after the story broke, the NC Public School Forum finally responded to proposed changes in the state's social studies curriculum. According to the editorial comment published in their Friday Report,

Some of those being critical came as no surprise.  The Locke Foundation, for instance, whose very name implies a bias toward remaining fixed in the 1700 and 1800’s, was among them.  Others, however, including Senator Mark Basnight, voiced legitimate concerns based on the information DPI had presented.  DPI, in response to the firestorm that had been sparked, quickly announced that they are going back to the drawing boards and the issue will be reconsidered.
I have to admit that the notion that our name "implies a bias toward remaining fixed in the 1700 and 1800’s" is pretty comical and some may even consider that a compliment. (Don't forget the 1600s when, you know, John Locke was alive.) It is akin to saying that the Public School Forum has a bias toward remaining fixed in 500 BC because the word "Forum" originated from open space built into the middle of a Roman city. I would hate to hear what they believe the name of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) implies.

All kidding aside, there is nothing in the mission of our organization that implies "remaining fixed" in any period. But you knew that.

The writer calls for "a reasonable mid-point," but the following passage sounds like an endorsement of the DPI proposal, rather than attempt to find a compromise. (Note: June Atkinson, Superintendent of Public Instruction, is a Forum board member.)
 If we want young people to leave high school with a solid grasp of the historical events that we now confront, our history curriculum is going to have to place more focus on the history and forces that are shaping the world we live in.  We can’t presume that more time on our founding fathers and the drafting of our constitution will put today’s economic crisis, much less two war fronts, in perspective.  After all, when the constitution was drafted women were denied the right to vote.  Slavery was legal and widespread.  The world in 2010 is a far cry from the world of 1776 and our teaching of history needs to keep up with the world as it is today.
I will leave this one to Holly Brewer, associate professor of Colonial and Revolutionary American history at N.C. State. Dr. Brewer wrote,
History, and the arts and humanities, foster a spirit of inquiry and an ability to synthesize and understand complex ideas. These are skills that are more and more in demand. Math and literacy are indispensable, but the context, the knowledge, the lessons that history also indispensable for our citizens in the 21st century.

Most important of all, we should remember the reason why public schools were established in the United States after the American Revolution. The purpose was to teach history so that the young Republic would be sustained by an informed citizenry. That purpose is as important today as it was then.
Thank you again, Dr. Brewer.

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This weekend on Carolina Journal Radio

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 07:06 AM

Recently publicized depositions from former Gov. Mike Easley’s press aides shed new light on Easley’s secretive administration. In the next edition of Carolina Journal Radio, Rick Henderson discusses the impact of these depositions on a public-records lawsuit filed against Easley. Henderson also discusses the links between that lawsuit and an ongoing criminal investigation surrounding the former governor.

Terry Stoops will join us to discuss his research into the potential impact stringent new charter school standards would have if state education officials applied them to all public schools statewide.

You’ll hear highlights from a recent legislative update offered by Michael Keough, executive director of North Carolina’s year-old high-risk health insurance pool. Joe Coletti will offer his reaction. Speaking of health, Rep. Dale Folwell will outline his concerns about the state’s unfunded $28 billion health-care obligation for state workers and retirees.

Plus you’ll hear highlights from Army First Sgt. HansMarc Hurd’s recent John Locke Foundation Shaftesbury Society lecture on the Afghanistan war.

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New Carolina Journal Online features

Posted by Mitch Kokai at 06:57 AM

This week's Carolina Journal Online Friday interview features Donna Martinez's conversation with Terry Stoops about the ongoing tension between public charter and district schools.

Daren Bakst's guest Daily Journal explains why restaurant owners — not government bureaucrats — should decide whether customers can bring their canine companions.

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