Updated: Sen. Burr has in fact weighed in on Congresswoman Alma Adams’ proposal to name a Winston-Salem post office after Maya Angelou. Both he and Sen. Thom Tillis support the bill. See below.
Good morning, everyone. Early voting starts in North Carolina today, so make sure you head to the polls, stat! Remember, your participation is mandatory.
Here are your headlines this cold (but sunny!) Thursday morning.
1. Democrats have a plan to defeat Gov. McCrory, and that is attempting to tie him to Donald Trump.
Ricky Diaz, a spokesman for McCrory, said this week that the governor would support whoever wins the GOP nomination. Unlike many of his Republican brethren in North Carolina who are all in for Marco Rubio, the Governor hasn’t endorsed anyone in the GOP presidential race. Still waiting to see where the wind blows him, perhaps, or maybe he figures not endorsing in this veritable horror show is his ticket to re-election.
Anyhoo, Diaz’s remark sent Democrats all into a tizzy and they began firing off press releases claiming that McCrory backs Trump. Which prompted Diaz to say, the groups sending out the press releases “must think North Carolinians are stupid.”
But considering Trump is leading in the polls among North Carolina Republicans, mightn’t it be so stupid if McCrory were to publicly back Trump, regardless of how racist it would make him look? At least he’d be in, uh, good company with Chris Christie of New Jersey, Paul LePage of Maine, Sarah Palin of Alaska and Jan Brewer of Arizona. He could still maybe even be V.P.!
I think we can all agree that it likely won’t do McCrory any favors to get behind Rubio at this point.
2. Shockingly, North Carolina’s schools are having a hard time recruiting and retaining teachers, since fewer college students want to train for teaching careers. Can’t blame ’em!
At a panel of educators yesterday, organized in part by the Wake County school system, low pay and the un-helpfulness of A-F rankings for schools were all cited as reasons students were reluctant to go into teaching, and why would-be teachers avoid certain schools.
From the News and Observer:
Enrollment at the 15 UNC schools of education has dropped 30 percent since 2010, according to Alisa Chapman, UNC system vice president for academic and university programs. The UNC system provides 37 percent of the state’s teachers, so any decline in the education programs makes it more difficult for districts to recruit teachers.
Chapman also said 25 percent of the state’s 100,000 public school teachers are in their first five years on the job. The most common group of teachers is those with about 1.5 years of experience.
“We have a greening workforce,” Chapman told attendees at a panel discussion at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at N.C. State University. “We do need to put in place the right structures and support systems to help support the beginning teachers that we have.”
But the problem isn’t just limited to North Carolina where teachers are horribly underpaid and schools are abysmally under-funded. Or so says the John Locke Foundation.
What North Carolina is seeing is a national problem, with states that pay teachers more also seeing drops in teaching candidates, according to Terry Stoops, director of education studies for the John Locke Foundation. Stoops, who attended the panel discussion, said it’s also not a surprise to see the impact of so many veteran teachers retiring.
Over the past two years, the legislature raised pay for beginning teachers to $35,000 to make the starting salary more competitive with surrounding states. Key lawmakers say a teacher pay raise is likely this year but have dismissed as unrealistic state schools Superintendent June Atkinson’s call for a 10 percent pay raise.
“If you consider the number of kids that are no longer choosing to teach in schools of education, the pay rate in North Carolina that’s not attractive to neighboring states, we’re really facing some tough statistics in front of us,” said Wake County Superintendent Jim Merrill.
The UNC system is trying to aggressively recruit more candidates to become teachers and has implemented an New Teacher Support Program. Wake County has programs that mentor new teachers and recruit high school seniors to be teachers. And, as “key lawmakers” portend, maybe the legislature will step up and do something for teachers too. I mean, it is an election year…
3. Some grouchy Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives voted against naming a Winston-Salem post office after poet Maya Angelou.
That’s right. After N.C. congresswoman Alma Adams introduced a routine bill to honor poet and civil rights leader with a post office named after her in her home town of more than thirty years, nine jerks in congress said no because Angelou supported Fidel Castro’s communist government in Cuba.
That set off testy exchanges with deeply racial overtones, with Adams and New York Rep. Steve Israel accusing the dissenters of disrespecting a woman who deserved only the highest regard.
The nine who voted no were Reps. Mo Brooks of Alabama, Ken Buck of Colorado, Michael Burgess of Texas, Jeff Duncan of South Carolina, Glenn Grothman of Wisconsin, Andy Harris of Maryland, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Alex Mooney of West Virginia and Steven Palazzo of Mississippi.
“These nine Republicans chose to blatantly disrespect an extraordinary woman who worked to crush gender and racial barriers in our country,” Adams said in a statement. “In true Maya Angelou fashion, I believe when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Their actions are yet another painful addition to radical Republican obstructionism.”
Duncan, chairman of a House subcommittee with jurisdiction over Cuba that he said had taken witnesses’ testimony about human rights abuses, said he objected solely because of Angelou’s support for Castro.
“While Dr. Angelou made terrific contributions to both literature and civil rights, her vocal support of the communist regime in Cuba gave me pause when deciding whether to name a taxpayer-funded building after her,” he said in a statement.
The episode came on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin sought to set a higher tone among Republicans, assailing their party’s presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, for failing to repudiate white supremacist groups.
Racial undercurrents have bubbled to the surface in the polarized Congress several times in the past few years. Last year, after a gunman killed nine black worshippers in a Charleston, South Carolina, church, numerous Republicans threw their support behind removing the Confederate flag from government facilities, but not everybody signed on.
TL;DR: Republicans are having a hard time not being overtly racist. But U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, who is from Winston-Salem, and Sen. Thom Tillis—both Republicans—sent a letter supporting Congresswoman Adams’ bill which you can see below.
That’s it y’all. Thursday is Little Friday—hi-yo, Silver. Away!