A majority of State Board of Education members approved the controversial K-12 social studies standards in February 2021. A new report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute awarded North Carolina’s new civics and government standards a D− and our U.S. history standards an F. Despite this assessment, plans are underway to implement the new standards in the fall unless the General Assembly intervenes.
Research continues to find serious, deadly effects of lockdowns and severe government restrictions over Covid-19, such as Gov. Cooper's, while failing to find evidence of their purported benefits. From March 2020 through January 2021 (the end of available data), under Cooper's unrelenting orders, North Carolina has been witnessing a second excess death event other than Covid-19. It is disheartening to see evidence of an ongoing, non-Covid death event months and months after citing science and data to sound the alarm repeatedly in the hopes of warding off such grim results.
65% of likely North Carolina voters believe that classroom instruction in K-12 schools has become more political over the last five years. 57% of survey participants agreed that teachers give their personal beliefs in the classroom to influence the beliefs of children. To address these problems, respondents supported a proposed academic transparency requirement and a mandate that teachers show no preference for certain ideas.
The Senate budget plan would address current education spending needs, increase salaries for teachers and education personnel and offer bonuses, and increase all steps of base teacher salaries. It would also expand eligibility for Opportunity Scholarships, raise the value of the scholarships, and increase the annual payment to the Opportunity Scholarship Grant Fund Reserve. These are steps in the right direction, but the budget needs to be more responsive to parents seeking additional educational options and other ways to redress the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the education of our children.
Recent revenue reports project overcollections in the current fiscal year of $6 billion. This added windfall provides many options to budget writers. The Senate budget plan focuses on tax cuts and significant investments in pay-as-you-go infrastructure projects.
So far this year, Gov. Cooper has pledged over $930.7 million in tax incentives to just 22 corporations, including $845.8 million over four decades to Apple. At the same time, Cooper opposes cutting taxes across the board on the state's corporations and small businesses. Most of the businesses that would benefit from across-the-board income tax cuts are local employers with fewer than 100 people.
State law empowers school boards to establish policies to ensure adherence to the code of ethics for North Carolina educators, which requires that teachers "not proselytize for personal viewpoints that are outside the scope of professional practice." School boards have broad authority to make curriculum decisions, select instructional materials, and create community media advisory committees tasked with addressing concerns about the appropriateness of textbooks and other resources.
North Carolina public schools will receive over $6 billion in funding to address the academic, emotional, and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Such levels of funding present high-risk and high-opportunity options for schools. Schools can ensure these funds are well spent by developing plans that are transparent, are strategic, discuss relevant trade-offs, encourage flexibility, and understand the implications of their choices.
Under the growing threat of a coronavirus combined with the government-imposed economic shutdown, Congress approved $6 billion in Covid-19 relief funds for K-12 public schools in North Carolina. A recovering economy has taken the worst-case scenarios off the table and resulted in more aid for K-12 schools than at any time in recent history. These dollars should be returned to taxpayers; otherwise, state leaders should take proper steps to ensure they are spent wisely and accomplish intended purposes.
Eliminating the state corporate income tax would enable a more fair tax climate for businesses. Research shows that workers are most harmed by the corporate tax. Corporate tax elimination, combined with reducing or eliminating crony handouts, would strike a major blow against corruption.
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