The Morning Roundup: Fundraising, school choosing and Raleigh outdoor dining | News

The Morning Roundup: Fundraising, school choosing and Raleigh outdoor dining


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Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg
  • Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg
Good morning, folks, we corralled your headlines so you're ready to crush Thursday. 

1. Low performing schools could be given one of three horrible options. Yesterday, Rep. Rob Bryan, R-Mecklenburg, presented a bill to to a special committee of lawmakers that would create a statewide district, called the Achievement School District, under which the State Board of Education hires a superintendent to select five continually struggling North Carolina schools. The schools, or their local school boards that govern them, are given three choices once selected: they can close, they can replace the principal with a new one or they can turn over to the Achievement School District, which would put the school under new management. From WRAL:

During Wednesday's discussion, committee members heard from Nancy Barbour, director of district and school transformation for the state Department of Public Instruction. She outlined the ways the state is already helping North Carolina's lowest-performing schools, saying her team uses a coaching model to help them improve instead of threatening to fire principals and teachers.

"When you have a heavy stick, things improve, (but) when you leave, things go back to the way they were," she said, adding that improving schools takes time and "doesn't happen overnight."

Rep. Bryan said he wants the Achievement School District to supplement the work Barbour and her team are doing. He plans to bring the proposed bill before the committee again in February and March for further discussion, including public comment.

Rep. Tricia Cotham, D-Mecklenburg, suggested inviting a critic of the proposed bill to speak at February's meeting. "I would really like to hear all sides of the story before I commit one way or another," she said. "If we're really going to move this forward, let's hear the good, bad and the ugly."

Critics of expanding charter schools, like left-leaning N.C. Policy Watch, say the bill (originally written by Oregon millionaire private school backer John Bryan) is a ploy to turn over low-performing public schools to the for-profit education sector. Rep. Bryan says he wants to find new ways to help struggling schools. No word on how the state intends to help its negative looking charter schools, though.
Attorney General Roy Cooper
  • Attorney General Roy Cooper

2. Roy Cooper has raised more $ than Gov. McCrory. Campaign finance reports were due in yesterday (though the state Board of Elections website appears to not be working). According to News and Observer, Roy Cooper raised $2.9 million in the second half of 2015 and has $4.9 million on hand. Gov. McCrory raised $2.6 million in that time and has $4.1 million on hand, so naturally, McCrory's calling out Cooper for doing more fundraising and less attorney general-ing, as if the McCrory administration was actually giving Cooper any work to do anyway (because it hires private attorneys, get it?). In the senate race, U.S. Sen. Richard Burr raised $817,948 in the final quarter of 2015 (and has more than $5 million on hand). Burr has raised more than his leading Democratic opponent, Deborah Ross, who raised $5 85,692 last quarter. Burr has a Republican challenger too, Cary obstetrician Greg Brannon. Nothing on Brannon's fundraising numbers yet. Also, Democratic state Sen. Josh Stein, who's running for attorney general, has $1.49 million and is expected to coast through his primary.

3. Raleigh sidewalk rules: In Raleigh, a special committee is still grappling with the outdoor dining ordinance. Some progress has been made though: the group has already decided to scrap the use of stanchions to delineate the sidewalk from the dining area, and doesn't think "no alcohol beyond this point" signs are needed either. Yesterday, it said it could be open to allowing more than one diner per fifteen square feet of sidewalk space, a rule that's long been on the books but has gone unenforced until recently. The group will look at how it will regulate furniture style and size at its next meeting. 

4. In other random political news, North Carolina congressman Mark Meadows went on Greta van Susteren last night to endorse Ted Cruz, Wake County Rep. Nelson Dollar's campaign gets ugly and U.S.  Sen. Thom Tillis is celebrating school choice week/has chosen not to shave until the Panthers win the Superbowl. And there's some sort of canine equestrian extravaganza this evening, which is being overshadowed by Donald Trump's
refusing to participate. Will Marco Rubio finally get a chance to make Marco Rubio happen?

That's a wrap. Stay golden, pony boys (and girls!). As a dear friend of mine used to say, Thursday is little Friday.


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