Science, socialism, and fascism, oh my

Just soak this in…

Supporters and opponents of the Next Generation Science Standards sparred during hearings in Kentucky last week, as critics took issue with the standards’ teaching of evolution and climate change.

The new standards were developed with input from officials in 26 states –- including Kentucky –- and are part of an effort to make science curricula more uniform across the country. While supporters feel the standards will help beat back scientific ignorance, some religious groups take issue because the standards treat evolution as fact and talk about the human role in climate change.

The Kentucky Board of Education adopted the standards in June and held hearings to get public feedback on the standards last week before they were presented to the state legislature for official approval.

Matt Singleton, a Baptist minister, is one of the opponents who spoke to the board about why the standards should not be adopted, according to The Courier-Journal. “Outsiders are telling public school families that we must follow the rich man’s elitist religion of evolution, that we no longer have what the Kentucky Constitution says is the right to worship almighty God,” Singleton said. “Instead, this fascist method teaches that our children are the property of the state.”

Another opponent, Dena Stewart-Gore, suggested that the standards will make religious students feel ostracized. “The way socialism works is it takes anybody that doesn’t fit the mold and discards them,” she said, per the The Courier-Journal. “We are even talking genocide and murder here, folks.”

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Photo of the day

From the National Geographic Tumblr:

Boats ferry through a canal to bypass the Peloponnesus in Corinth, Greece, December 1956.Photograph by David Boyer, National Geographic

Boats ferry through a canal to bypass the Peloponnesus in Corinth, Greece, December 1956.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID BOYER, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC

Good news?

One thing I’ve really been waiting/hoping for is for the more enlightened elements of the NC business community to speak out.  Surely, plenty of these folks recognize how central public education has been to the relative success of our state.  Well, that time has finally arrived in the person of one of NC’s richest Republicans:

Ann Goodnight is not happy. In a letter-to-the-editor in the News and Observer, she goes after the state budget and the leaders who wrote and passed it:

We are knowingly under-investing in our pre-K-12, community college and university students; in our teachers; and in innovative new approaches to learning. This budget is an embarrassment in its lack of investment in the skills and competitiveness of its people. This is a grievous mistake.

Before writing this off as another partisan attack, it should be noted that Ann Goodnight – the wife of Jim Goodnight, the founder and CEO of SAS – is a connected, important, and influential supporter of Republicans.

She’s held fundraisers in her home for Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (to the tune of $300,000) and is a member of the UNC Board of Governors. According to OpenSecrets.org, she has given to Republicans Orrin Hatch and Mitt Romney, as well as Republican Congressional candidates in North Carolina

Her letter was posted by a number of FB friends with glowing commentary.  And sure, good for Ann Goodnight.  But where was she a few weeks ago when they were working on this budget?  And what did she think Phil Berger actually wanted to do for public education when she was holding all those fundraisers for him?    I sure hope to see a lot more of a letter out of her in the future.

That said, I do hope that this is the beginning of a flood of more enlightened/moderate business leaders in the state turning on the far right leadership that’s driving us off a cliff.  Them the elected Republicans will listen to.  Of course, I’ve got some hope for the 2014 and 2016 voters of North Carolina.  But that amazingly successful Republican gerrymander will certainly limit that impact.

[p.s.  Heading out to the mountains for a few days vacation with the in-laws.  You can probably expect a reduced rate of posting.]

Video of the day

Thanks to EG for sending this after a brief Sharknado exchange.  Great stuff:

Oh, also, it’s pretty funny, Sarah has been asking about shark tornadoes since seeing part of the movie.

Photo of the day

I thought about going to Moral Monday again yesterday, but knowing that yesterday was largely about a march, I figured a lot less people would bring their dogs out.  I didn’t want to deal with a disappointed Sarah, so I stayed home.  Apparently, there were at least some dogs there:

  AL DRAGO — adrago@newsobserver.com

NC by the numbers

Obviously, the NC-focused posts will slow down with the GA now done for the year (and honestly, it was getting emotionally exhausting being perpetually enraged by their shenanigans), but here’s a nice summary post from NC Policy Watch putting numbers to a lot of what they’ve done (I went ahead and pasted the whole thing):

70,000—number of long term unemployed workers in North Carolina who lost federal emergency unemployment benefits June 30 because of the effective date of the changes the General Assembly made to state unemployment system (The Unemployment Insurance Cliff:  A Steep Fall for Families, the Economy, N.C. Budget & Tax Center, June 2013) – See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2013/07/29/the-2013-general-assemblys-shameful-numbers/#sthash.yzqoZF9c.dpuf

100,000—number of additional long term unemployed workers who will lose federal emergency unemployment benefits before the end of the year because of the actions of the General Assembly (Ibid)

1.2 billion—amount in dollars of the estimated economic impact in North Carolina of the loss of federal emergency unemployment benefits as a result of the actions of the General Assembly (Ibid)

500,000—number of low-income adults denied health care coverage because of the decision made by McCrory and the General Assembly to refuse the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (“Updated: Wos Says Decision to Not Expand Medicaid Was Goodwin’s Call,” N.C. Health News, May 10, 2013)

907,000—number of low-wage workers in North Carolina who claimed the state Earned Income Tax Credit  in 2011 (“North Carolina’s Earned Income Tax Credit: A Modest but Vital Boost to Low-Paid Workers across the State, N.C Budget & Tax Center, February 2013)

64,000—number of military families who claimed the state Earned Income Tax Credit in 2011 (Factsheet: 64,000 North Carolina Military Families Set to Lose EITC, Experience Tax Increase, N.C Budget & Tax Center)

0—-number of low-wage workers in North Carolina including those in military families who will receive the state EITC under the tax shift plan approved by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory (Ibid)

80—percent of taxpayers who will on average will receive a tax INCREASE under the tax changes made by the General Assembly in 2013 (“Preliminary Analysis of Joint Tax Plan: Still a big tax cut at the top,” Progressive Pulse, July 16, 2013)

10,000—amount in dollars of the tax CUT that millionaires will receive under the tax changes made by the General Assembly in 2013 (Ibid)

2,500—the number of reduction of slots in NC PreK for at-risk four year olds in 2013-2104 budget approved by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory (Overview: Final budget deal falls short, puts North Carolina on a path to mediocrity, Progressive Pulse, July 22, 2013)

5,200—the number of teaching positions that will be lost as a result of the 2013-2015 budget approved by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory (Summary of Special Provisions- Senate Bill 402, N.C. Department of Public Instruction)

4,580—number of teacher assistants positions cut in the2013-2015 budget approved by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Pat McCrory (Ibid)

0—amount in dollars for salary increases for teachers in North Carolina in the budget for the 2013-2014 school year (Ibid)

15—number of years it takes a North Carolina public school teacher with a bachelor’s degree to earn $40,000 (Presentation on North Carolina Teacher Salaries; State Board of Education, March 2013)

50—rank of North Carolina in average teacher salary increase over the past 10 years (Ibid)

10 million—amount in dollars of the cost  in 2013-2014 of the voucher scheme included in the final budget that for the first time will allow taxpayer dollars to be used to pay for tuition at unaccountable private and religious schools (Vouchers gain ground, public education loses in final budget, N.C. Policy Watch, July 25, 2013)

15—number of the state’s 16 abortion clinics that could be forced to close under sweeping anti-choice bill approved by the General Assembly and waiting for Governor Pat McCrory’s signature or veto (“Abortion regulations heading to McCrory, WRAL-TV, July 25, 2013)

318,000—number of registered voters in North Carolina who do not have a NC driver’s license or state identity card and will be affected by the voter suppression legislation passed by the General Assembly (“County-by-County Data Reveal Dramatic Impact of Proposed Election Changes on Voters,” Democracy North Carolina, July 22, 2013)

22—percentage of currently active North Carolina voters who are African-American (“Who Doesn’t Have a Photo ID?” Democracy North Carolina)

32—percentage of active voters without a valid NC photo ID who are African-American (Ibid)

Almost too depressing to read the whole thing.

Occupy lives

I was listening to the New Yorker political scene podcast today and they were talking about how inequality was now a regular theme in President Obama’s speeches.  It got me thinking that, fortunately, it’s very much become a regular theme in American political discourse.  And whereas some on the left were talking about it a few years ago, it was still kind of a niche issue.  That’s changed and surely the lion’s share of the credit for that has to go to the Occupy movement.  No matter what else they did or accomplished (which, on its face, is little) they most definitely served to change the political conversation in this country in a very needed direction.  Though that has not borne policy fruit yet, over time it surely will.

I thought I should put a few number with this to emphasize my point, so I searched Lexis/Nexis for the use of the term “inequality” in a variety of news sources from January through July 2011 (Occupy started in September 2011) and compared it with January through July of 2013.  The results:

 

2011

2013

CNN.com

48

79

New York Times

148

454

Washington Post

90

287

Associated Press

70

136

Some pretty dramatic increases.  No matter what else, that is an important and ongoing legacy of Occupy.  And, hopefully (2017?) we’l see this start to bear meaningful fruit in policy.

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