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Conservative Women Making a Difference "APPALACHIAN REPUBLICAN WOMEN"

ARW meeting!


Join us and get to know your candidates better!

We have invited many to join us, with this Busy campaign season, we look forward to seeing those that can at least be with us, even if it's for a short time. You'll want to come and bring your friends.

Not just for Ladies- Men and Young Republican's are all invited! 












  This week in smart voting news...



Convicted vote fraudster Sen. Wright proposes bill to convert felonies to misdemeanors - Two days after he was convicted of eight felonies for perjury and voter fraud, state Sen. Roderick Wright (D-Inglewood) introduced a bill that would allow some nonviolent felonies to be converted to misdemeanors.



IA SOS to seek more funds for voter fraud investigation - Iowa Secretary of State Matt Schultz will ask the Legislature for $140,000 to pursue voter fraud for another year despite openly hostile criticism from Senate majority Democrats Tuesday for his two-year investigation.



KS, AZ renew efforts to force federal officials to modify voter registration form - Kansas and Arizona have rekindled a lawsuit seeking to force the U.S. Election Assistance Commission to require residents to show proof-of-citizenship when registering to vote, arguing that a recent agency decision to deny the requests was unlawful.



Afzali looks to expedite voter roll purges - When election officials suspect someone on their lists has died, they sometimes have to wait two election cycles before they can remove the person's name. Delegate Kathy Afzali says this process needs some streamlining.


Too dead to vote - To that end, we support Delegate Kathy Afzali's recently introduced bill that would help clear official rolls of deceased former voters.



Voter fraud trial starts for pot advocate - A voter fraud trial for the man who successfully petitioned to get marijuana decriminalized in Ferndale got underway Friday with a prosecutor saying the suspect falsely claimed he lived in Ferndale while residing in Oak Park.



Angle files petition for voter ID law - Sharron Angle, a former Nevada assemblywoman and failed U.S. Senate candidate who has made fighting alleged election corruption a personal quest, wants to amend the state constitution to require photo identification to vote.



Mobile Texas voter ID stations to be deployed this month - Texas Department of Public Safety officials are deploying mobile stations this month issuing Election Identification Certificates in Garza, Dickens and Motley counties for upcoming elections.


Midland County pushes for voter registration - Midland County voting officials are pushing for voter registration after a very low turnout during last year's election.

Four campaign workers arrested, accused of voter fraud - Four campaign workers have been arrested after a Democrat accused his Republican opponent of using forged signatures to get on the ballot in the Harris County Justice of the Peace race.



Legislation on the Move*



Felon Voting Bill, HR 3688

The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations. The "Ex-Offender Voter Registration Act of 2013" would amend title 18, United States Code, to direct the Bureau of Prisons to provide voter registration cards to Federal prisoners upon their release from prison.



Voter Registration Bill, HB 91

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections Committee this week. This bill would require each person or entity who collects voter registration applications to deliver the applications to the appropriate board of registrars within 72 hours after the collection of the applications. This bill would provide criminal penalties for violations of this act. There is currently no criminal penalty for failing to deliver applications to the "appropriate board of registrars."


List Maintenance Bill, HB 358

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Constitution, Campaigns, and Elections Committee this week. This bill would allow each county board of registrars to investigate written reports from family members, election inspectors, circuit court clerks and others regarding voters who have died or changed residences. If it is determined that the voter is deceased or no longer a resident, the registrar must give notice to the voter of the proposed change in status by mail to the last known mailing address of the voter. The voter will have 30 days to respond.



Early Voting Bill, HB 2064

The bill was read a second time. This bill extends early voting hours.


Same Day Registration Bill, HB 2065

The bill was read a second time. This bill would allow qualified citizens to register to vote at the polls on Election Day. Such individuals would be allowed to vote by provisional ballot only.


Proof of Citizenship Bill, HB 2067

The bill was read a second time. This bill provides that registrars may not require documentation as a condition to register to vote if it is not required by the National Voter Registration Act and ensures citizens who submit legitimate federal forms will be registered to vote.


Early Voting Bill, HB 2194

The bill was read a second time. This bill makes changes to rules for permanent early voting status. It requires voters to provide a notarized signature with their request for an official early ballot.


Youth Voting Bill, SB 1186

The bill was read a second time. This bill allows 16- and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote.



Youth Voting Bill, SB 113

The bill was read a first time and held at desk. This bill would extend California's pre-registration policy to citizens at least 16 years of age. Currently, 17-year-old citizens can pre-register to vote and would be automatically eligible to vote upon turning 18.


Vote by Mail Bill, SB 240

The bill was read a first time and held at desk. This bill would permit a vote-by-mail voter to return his or her mail ballot to the elections official from whom it came at a vote-by-mail ballot drop-off location.



Deceptive Practices Bill, HB 425

The bill passed a third reading in the House. This bill "deems any person who provides false information regarding the details of voting guilty of an election fraud."


Youth Voting Bill, HB 1797

The bill was amended in House Committee. This bill requires the Department of Education to provide seniors at each public high school with voter registration information prior to graduation. The bill requires the Department of Human Services to provide young adults in the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Program with information on voter registration. The bill authorizes the Department of Education and Department of Human Services to assist with voter registration.


Voter Registration Bill, HB 2001

The bill was re-referred to the House Committees on House Transportation and Judiciary. This bill requires counties to automatically register as voters all citizens who are qualified to vote at the time they are issued a civil identification card or driver's license.


Voter Registration Bill, HB 2590

The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. This bill allows voter registration at absentee polling places beginning in 2016 and late voter registration on election day at polling places beginning in 2018.


Voter Registration Bill, SB 2380

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Committee on Public Safety, Intergovernmental and Military Affairs on February 6, 2014 at 3:00 p.m.This bill requires all applicants for a new or renewed driver's license, provisional license, instructional permit, or civil identification card, who are eligible to vote, to automatically be registered to vote.



Early Voting Bill, SB 200

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Education, Health, and Environmental Affairs Committee on February 6, 2014 at 1:00 p.m. This bill changes the start date of the early voting period from the second Thursdaybefore an election to the second Sunday before an election. The bill also changes the end date of the early voting period from the Thursday before an election to the Sunday before an election.



List Maintenance Bill, HB 650

The bill was first read. This bill provides for the purging of voters who have requested to be removed from the voter roll.



Voter Registration Bill, LB 661

The bill is pending; Conrad name added. This bill requires the Secretary of State and the Department of Motor Vehicles to develop and implement a registration application process to allow citizens to register to vote or update voter registration records electronically through the Secretary's web site. Citizens with a valid Nebraska driver's license or state ID may use the application process to register to vote using their signature on file with the DMV. Anyone who knowingly submits a false application is guilty of a Class IV felony.



List Maintenance Bill, SB 272

The bill was amended in the Senate. This bill authorizes the secretary of state to provide notice of a voter registration to supervisors of the checklist in another state.


Voter ID Bill, SB 183

The bill was amended. This bill allows voters to use unauthorized photo voter ID as long as it is determined to be legitimate by the supervisors of the checklist. If challenged, the voter must complete a challenged voter affidavit as if no ID was presented.



Early Voting Bill, AB 2230

The bill was introduced and referred to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. This bill establishes in-person early voting for general elections.


Early Voting Bill, SB 536

The bill was referred to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee. This bill establishes in-person early voting for general elections.



Early Voting Bill, SB 2237

The bill was introduced and referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill would make in-person early voting available to any registered and eligible voter for all regular elections. Early voting would begin on the 21st day before a general election and end on the Saturday before Election Day. During primary elections, early voting would begin on the 13th day before Election Day.



Voter Registration Bills, HB 2103 and SB 2227

The bills were introduced. These bills would require state election commission to provide online voter registration through the Secretary of State's web site.



Proof of Citizenship Bill, HB 244

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Government Operations Committee this week. This bill would require all voters and new voter registrants to present proof of citizenship to vote in state or local elections in 2019 or any subsequent election. A person who completes and submits a federal voter registration form, as provided under the National Voter Registration Act, is not required submitting documentation of United States citizenship to vote in an election for federal office.


Early Voting Bill, HB 252

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Government Operations Committee this week. Under this bill, counties and municipalities that administer elections entirely by absentee ballot would no longer be exempt from providing early voting.


Absentee Voting Bill, SB 90

The bill was sent to agencies for fiscal input. This bill relates to residency and voting. A person who moves to another state or precinct would lose residency status if that person "forms the intent to make the other state or precinct the person's principal place of residence."



Voter Registration Bill, SB 86

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the House Committee on Government Operations this week. Among several other provisions, this omnibus bill requires any person or organization other than a voter registration agency that accepted completed voter registration forms on behalf of an applicant to submit those forms to the town clerk no later than seven days after the completion date.



List Maintenance Bill, HB 665

The bill was continued to the 2015 legislative session. This bill relates to Virginia's interstate cross-check program. The bill prohibits election officials from canceling the registration of voters who are believed to no longer reside in the jurisdiction unless corroborating evidence is found. The processing must be completed by the general registrar within 90 days following the receipt of the list from the State Board, but not 60 days before a primary or general election.


Absentee Voting Bill, HB 670

The bill was reported from House Privileges and Elections Committee with amendments. This bill provides that a voter's failure to provide his full middle name or his middle initial in the statement on the back of the return envelope shall not render that absentee ballot void or provide officers of election with a basis for rejection, unless the voter also failed to provide his full first name.


Felon Voting Bill, HB 7

The bill was laid on the table. This bill would automatically restore rights upon completion of any sentence and any modification of sentence, including probation, parole and suspension of sentence, and the payment in full of any restitution, fines, costs, and fees assessed against hte person as a result of the felony conviction.


Felon Voting Bill, HB 556

The bill was laid on the table. This bill provides for the automatic restoration of voting rights to persons with felony convictions upon the completion of a person's sentence, including any term of probation or parole, and the payment of all restitution, fines, costs, and fees assessed as a result of the felony conviction.


Youth Voting Bill, HB 694

The bill was continued to the 2015 legislative session. This bill would allow citizens who are at least 16 years of age to preregister to vote. The bill specifies that this early registration does not permit such a person to vote in any election occurring prior to his eighteenth birthday, except for those situations currently set out.



Youth Voting Bill, HB 1279

The bill was first read and referred to Governmental Operations. This bill establishes the Young Voter Registration Equality Act. The bill allows eligible citizens who are at least sixteen years of age to preregister to vote.



Early Voting Bill, AB 54

The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Senate Elections and Urban Affairs Committee this week. This bill would eliminate the opportunity to vote after5 p.m. or on weekends during the early voting period.


Voter Registration Bill, AB 689
The bill is scheduled to be heard by the Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections this week. This bill transfers responsibility for reviewing each municipality's voter registration records and mailing the Notice of Suspension of Registration forms from the municipal clerk to the Government Accountability Board (GAB). The bill authorizes GAB to delegate back to the municipal clerk the responsibility to change the registration status of electors who have not timely applied for continuation of registration.



* Bill list sourced from  Project Vote or Thomas.gov.  








By Robert Knight Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times. Friday, January 24, 2014 On Thursday, the FBI announced an indictment of Dinesh D'Souza, maker of the hit documentary "2016: Obama's America," in what appears to be a Hugo Chavez-style payback. Mr. D'Souza is accused of making illegal campaign contributions to a U.S. Senate candidate in New York. Also in New York, conservative activist James O'Keefe reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration, of which he has been critical, is targeting his Veritas group with subpoenas. In Hollywood, Fox News is reporting that the Internal Revenue Service has targeted a conservative group, Friends of Abe, whose members stay anonymous because of liberal blacklisting. Texas Tea Party leader Catherine Engelbrecht, her husband and their company have been subjected to 28 audits, investigations and inquiries from the IRS and other federal agencies since she founded True the Vote. If these developments and the Obamacare train wreck are still not enough to convince you that elections have consequences, consider the commonwealth of Virginia. Last November, thanks to a massive blitz of negative TV, radio and Internet ads, an underfunded and lukewarm GOP effort, plus an impressive ground game turning out their base, the Democratic Party took all three statewide offices — governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. It didn't hurt that the federal partial shutdown heavily affected vote-rich Northern Virginia, or that then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican (who was indicted last week), was under a cloud for allegedly accepting illegal gifts. Or that a Texas billionaire Obama supporter helped secure ballot placement for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, who drew 7 percent of the vote. Republican Kenneth T. Cuccinelli still lost by only 2 percent, nearly closing a double-digit gap as he belatedly hammered Obamacare. That's water under the bridge. Within days of being sworn in, Gov. Terry McAuliffe threatened to ignore the GOP-dominated House of Delegates and expand Obamacare by offering Medicaid to 400,000 more recipients without required legislation. To Democrats, "reaching across the aisle" means getting close enough to slap their opponents silly. The recipients always manage to look surprised. In a similar spirit, new state Attorney General Mark R. Herring, who the media widely described as a moderate, gave a middle-finger salute Thursday to the 57 percent of Virginia voters who approved a marriage constitutional amendment in 2006. Remember, people who believe that the law should reflect what marriage has been for thousands of years are viewed as "extremists." The state's brief filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk says, "The Attorney General will not defend the constitutionality of those laws [and] will argue for their being declared unconstitutional." What's that, you say? Mr. Herring, who won by just a handful of votes, took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and Virginia's Constitution? You are naive. This is not about oath-keeping. It's about political payback to a very generous constituency.

To liberals, politics really is war by other means.  

The Democratic tide continued last Tuesday, as left-winger Jennifer Wexton won Mr. Herring's former Northern Virginia state Senate seat. By taking 53 percent of the vote and beating Republican John Whitbeck (37 percent) and Republican-turned-independent former Delegate Joe May (10 percent), Ms. Wexton gave the Democrats effective control of the upper chamber. Keep those figures in mind the next time we're told that independents, not the base, are the key to winning elections. A unified party with a motivated base beats a divided party every time. The GOP spent less than half on Mr. Whitbeck than Ms. Wexton spent. The Democrats thought it was actually important to gain control of the state Senate chamber in 2014, when a crucial congressional election this November will determine which party runs Congress during President Obama's final two years in office. Heeding Mr. Obama's famous advice, someone brought a gun to this knife fight. District 33 residents were inundated with robo-calls and mailers from a Tennessee-based group that falsely accused Mr. Whitbeck of being an anti-Semitic bigot. These scorched-earth tactics in Virginia are only a taste of what's coming in November. The Obama administration has unleashed the IRS again on — what else? — the Tea Party groups. Under a proposed new rule, the IRS would redefine the tax-exempt activities of 501(c)(4) nonprofits to sabotage the same groups that the IRS got caught targeting earlier. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Michigan Republican, said the rule, whose comment period ends on Feb. 27, is clearly aimed at putting "Tea Party groups out of business." Protected by a "mainstream" media as partisan as the White House public-relations shop, the Obama administration is addressing its own criminal IRS abuses by creating a way to silence the Tea Parties once and for all. Here's how The Wall Street Journal's Kimberly A. Strassel describes Mr. Camp's findings: "Treasury appears to have reverse-engineered the carefully tailored rule — combing through the list of previously targeted Tea Party groups, compiling a list of their main activities and then restricting those functions." Meanwhile, unions — the largest collective Democratic donors — are not covered by the rule. For good measure, the administration is easing immigration enforcement while Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.'s Justice Department attacks state voter-ID laws enacted to ensure honest elections. Does anyone see a pattern here? It's diabolically brilliant. Whether Virginia is a bellwether for November or a much-needed wake-up call depends on whether the Republicans come to understand that those criminalizing dissent and pushing the GOP leftward want desperately to keep that house divided. Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times. Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jan/24/knight-the-angry-democrats-and-their-scorched-eart/#ixzz2syO5wNOU          Follow us: @washtimes on Twitter

You are welcome to join us!

Common Core in Kansas? NO!




December 19, 2013

The Foundry 

Last week, Kansas decided to drop the Common Core–aligned Smarter Balanced tests in favor of having the University of Kansas craft the assessments that Kansas students will take beginning in the 2015–2016 school year. The Topeka Capital-Journal reports:
After hours of in-depth discussion, the Kansas State Board of Education voted 8–2 to walk away from a years-long effort that Kansas played a lead role in—the Smarter Balanced state consortium that is developing Common Core tests with a federal Race to the Top Grant.

The key concern for board members was that the Smarter Balanced tests—once they are finished and ready for schools in 2015—will be more expensive than commissioning the assessments from [the University of Kansas].…

By choosing KU [assessments] over Smarter Balanced, the Kansas State Board of Education expects to save money though either option means an increase compared to the state’s current math and reading tests. It also will retain greater control over the design and content of the tests than Smarter Balanced would have allowed.

Common Core national standards were adopted by 45 states in 2009 after the federal government incentivized states using a combination of carrots and sticks—including $4.35 billion in Race to the Top (RTTT) competitive grants and No Child Left Behind waivers. But many states, including Kansas, are beginning to have second thoughts.

The Huffington Post reports that 17 additional states are pushing back against Common Core:
In critically reconsidering their agreements to abide by [Common Core State Standards] and its related RTTT high-stakes assessment and data collection requirements, it seems that a number of [Common Core] states are attempting to do exactly that—reinforcing the right of states to listen to the concerns of their citizens and subsequently adjust their own education systems.

For 30 years, Kansas has relied on the University of Kansas to prepare tests for its students. KU said it can prepare tests with nearly all the same features of the Common Core–aligned tests—except their tests won’t cost an estimated $1 million more per year, and, most importantly, educational decision making for Kansas students will stay in Kansas.

As the 2014–2015 deadline for adoption looms near, states still have time to reject Common Core and reclaim their educational decision-making authority.


Christmas Blessings to each of our friends and members!

Second Amendment Event



What is the Top “10″ that North Carolina doesn’t want to be in?

       Join ARW in welcoming

       Our NC Representatives 

Michele Presnell and Josh Dobson 

     Thursday, September 5th 


Will be discussing with us the critical issue of Human Trafficking

Our State has made strides to help deal with this issue, there's much more that can be done.

*** If you think this doesn't effect us here in Western NC,  you are wrong! 

 5:30pm for a meal                                                                                                                       6:00pm for meeting

In Dt's backroom

NC House Republicans- State education spending: the facts via the NCGOP

The North Carolina House Republicans have released some useful information regarding the latest budget passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed by the Governor.  Equipped with useful charts and answers to some of the liberal left’s most outrageous claims, information packet is chocked full of documented, factual material that is easy to share.

We’ve all heard the dire predictions about the Republican-passed budget: “They’re going to decimate the whole public education system in this state!” and “This proposed budget will set back this state 25 years!” and “Cuts near this magnitude will dramatically eviscerate the ability of this state to provide a constitutionally-sound education to all of the students of our state!”

Do those claims sound familiar? They should — they’re from over two years ago. On February 24, 2011, Democrat representatives Mickey Michaux, Rick Glazier, and Ray Rapp all clucked that under the Republican budget the sky was falling. Former Governor Perdue, for her part, warned that 20,000 teachers would be fired, class size would double, and the Republican budget would “result in generational damage” to North Carolina’s public schools.

But none of it happened.

Not only were all our teaching positions fully funded, but according to the Department of Public Instruction’s own figures, North Carolina’s public schools actually added 3,198 state-funded education jobs this school year — and 7,811 total teaching jobs since Republicans have held the majority in the General Assembly. And significant education reforms enacted over the last two years have already begun bearing fruit: last year, North Carolina’s high school graduation rate surpassed 80 percent – a first in the state’s history and a 12-point jump from six years ago.

It’s shameful how the hyper-partisan teachers union — the largest and most organized group of paid lobbyists in the state — and their mouthpieces in the media continue to scare hard-working teachers and parents with wild claims that never seem to materialize. Let’s cut through the wild rhetoric and look at the facts.

I heard on the news last week that you cut education by half a billion dollars!

Nope. The amount spent on education programs will actually increase by $400 million next year. Total spending on public schools, community colleges, and universities amounts to $11.5 billion (that’s more than half of the entire state budget) and of that, $7.9 billion will go to K-12 education. That figure is up from the $7.7 billion we spent last year on K-12 (an increase of 2.1%) and the nearly $7.3 billion spent two years ago.

This year’s state budget will spend more money on public education in North Carolina than we have ever spent.

Source: Current Operations and Capital Improvements Appropriations Act of 2013″ (Senate Bill 402) and the North Carolina General Assembly’s  Fiscal Research Division’s report “North Carolina Public Schools Expenditures, FY 2003-04 to FY 2011-12” For a printable PDF of this chart, click here.

But this week, the newspaper said that the increase isn’t even enough to keep pace with inflation or the growth in the number of students.

The new budget keeps pace with both inflation and the growth in the number of students: economists forecast inflation at 1.5% for the coming year and the Department shows stable growth in student enrollment — averaging about a half percent over the last five years. That’s a total of 2%, which is about where we are in terms of the increase in K-12 appropriations over what it was last year. So when you look at it from that perspective, by fully keeping pace with growth, K-12 essentially breaks even next school year.

I hear we rank near the bottom in terms of how much we spend per student. What about the children?

According to the most recent data compiled by the National Education Association (page 55, Chart H-11), North Carolina taxpayers spend $8,757 on each student per year, something bureaucrats call “per-pupil expenditure.” New York state spends the most at $18,616 per-pupil; New Mexico ranks in the middle of the pack at $10,203 per-pupil; and Arizona spends the least at $6,683 per-pupil. The report puts us North Carolina at 45th. Sounds terrible, right?

What the partisan media doesn’t tell you is that North Carolina public schools receive among the highest percentages of their funding from state dollars, ranking 11th in the nation and 2nd in the Southeast (according to that same DPI report).

In the US, K-12 education is funded by three sources: federal dollars, state dollars, and local dollars. Here in North Carolina, the federal government provides only about 16 percent of K-12 funding, with state government picking up most of the tab at 60.1%. Local governments contribute less than a quarter of the cost of educating our children.

State, federal, and local funds combined, North Carolina spends approximately $12 billion on K-12 education every year — and that does not include the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on school buildings and the debt used to build and maintain them.

In other states, education is funded primarily by local governments — with property taxes and bonds — and not with state dollars, as we do in North Carolina. The fact remains that our county and city governments could choose to spend more on educating our children, but they don’t.

Why is this important? It’s not really, except to say that when the media casts blame on the General Assembly for not spending enough on our children’s education, there are many other significant factors to consider. And of course, it’s easy for the media to point fingers, especially at Republicans.

So where does all that state money go?

According to the DPI report, of the $7.2 billion the state spent two years ago on K-12 programs, 90% of the entire amount goes to pay teachers and administrators and provide them benefits. This figure doesn’t include the tens of billions of additional dollars the state pays out to retired teachers and administrators in monthly guaranteed pension checks and lifetime healthcare benefits.

But why did you cut teacher pay?

Contrary to rumors spread by liberal advocacy groups, teacher pay has not been cut. Period.

But you couldn’t give teachers at least a 1% raise?

The legislature sets the base pay for public school teachers in North Carolina. The actual pay level for teachers is determined at the local level. Local governments can always decide to pay teachers more.

But local governments seem to have other priorities than our teachers. For example, in the City of Asheville, the unelected school board gave its retiring superintendent a gift of $175,000. City school board members were under no obligation to pay him anything (he wasn’t owed a buyout payment because he quit his job). That $175,000 gift for a retiring administrator (that’s on top of his generous monthly pension) could have equated to an additional $875 in pay for every teacher in Asheville. (Note: most school superintendents in North Carolina make in excess of $100,000 in annual salary, not including benefits and pension.)

Curiously, also in Asheville, its City Council just voted to give $2 million dollars to a non-profit group that runs a local art museum. That $2 million dollars could have been spent giving every one of Asheville’s teachers an additional $1,000 annual pay raise — every year for the next ten years.

Local governments could do more, but they don’t. And they escape accountability in the media by blaming Raleigh.

Anyway, last year the General Assembly did give teachers a small bump in their base pay — 1.2% and the first one in four years. But there’s a good reason there wasn’t a pay raise this year: it wouldn’t have been financially responsible. It didn’t get widely reported in the media, but this year the General Assembly had to plug a $500 million budget hole created by unexpected Medicaid cost overruns, and wasn’t able to do as much as most legislators wanted to. With nearly 100,000 active teachers and nearly 1,800 central office administrators in North Carolina’s public schools, every 1% raise equates to an extra $180 million in spending — and after paying for the Medicaid cost overruns, there just weren’t any taxpayer dollars left to spend.

What has gone unreported is that the state budget does include a reserve fund for future pay raises for both teachers and state employees. If there isn’t another surprise, House leaders have said that teacher pay raises will be their top priority next year.

How have the teachers pay raises compared to other state employees?

North Carolina’s teachers have done markedly better than other state employees in terms of pay raises. Over the past 20 years, base salary increases for North Carolina’s public school teachers have far outpaced other state employees:

her state employees:

While there is no raise for teachers this year, everyone (including teachers) will see larger paychecks. Thanks to this year’s tax reform efforts, everyone’s take-home pay will increase because we’ll all be paying less in state taxes.

But the bottom line is that teachers just don’t make enough.

According to the teachers union, the average annual salary for a North Carolina teacher is $45,947. But like with any job, you can’t just look at base salary — you really have to look at the entire compensation package. In addition to their base salary of $45,947, a teacher receives an average of $4,931 in health insurance benefits, $5,383 in state pension benefits, and $3,139 in Social Security contributions. That’s a total annual compensation package of $59,400 — for working ten months out of the year.

How does this compare to what other people make?

When you divide a teacher’s base salary (not including benefits) of $45,947 by the total number of weeks actually spent working (44), you get an average weekly wage of $1,044. According to the most recentdata from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average weekly wage across North Carolina is just $673.

This $673 weekly state average wage includes the relatively higher wages in Durham County ($1,225) and Mecklenburg County ($1,103). But the $1,044 average weekly wage of teachers in North Carolina is significantly higher (in most cases $400 higher) than 98 of the 100 counties in the entire state.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics. For a high resolution PDF of this chart, click here.

I read on Twitter that the General Assembly increased class size. Is that true?

Not exactly. The General Assembly removed the one-size-fits-all class size mandate and gave the authority to make these decisions back to the local school district, where it belongs. Local teachers, principals, and superintendents have a much better sense of where available resources should be focused. By selectively increasing class size, for instance, a superintendent might be able to hire an additional teacher if she decides that’s the best fit for her students. This efficient targeting of resources and enhanced flexibility will help protect programs that individual districts consider more essential.

What is the average class size in North Carolina?

According to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics, North Carolina’s average class size was 19 for elementary students and 21 for secondary students. Both are lower than the national average of 20 and 23, respectively.

I heard that you guys ended teacher tenure. That’s why most people enter the teaching profession in the first place!

Ending guaranteed lifetime tenure is a way to ensure that only the best teachers are hired and retained. Tenure for public school teachers doesn’t work the same way it does in higher education, where a professor must wait ten years and then be approved by a majority of his or her academic peers. Under the tenure system in North Carolina, a teacher automatically received guaranteed lifetime tenure after just four years.

In order to keep their tenured status, teachers in north Carolina only needed to receive satisfactory evaluations in just one year out of three. For example, a teacher could receive failing back-to-back evaluations in years one and two — but if they could show adequate improvement in year three, the clock would be reset and their tenure would continue.

Not surprisingly, the system has been abused in many ways, stifling excellence in our classrooms. It also typically took nearly ten years to remove poor teachers from North Carolina’s public schools because of the exhaustive paperwork required, the bureaucratic entanglements, and lengthy court appeals. The teacher tenure system was so broken that only 17 of North Carolina’s 97,184 teachers were fired for cause last year.

The budget replaces this outdated tenure system with a contract system based on job performance and the best teachers will be rewarded through a merit pay system. There is $10.2 million in the budget to reward high-performing teachers with $500 bonuses. These measures will better ensure quality instruction by identifying ineffective teachers who need to be retrained or replaced.

Why did you end the extra pay for teachers with master’s degrees?

The budget does phase-out new pay supplements for teachers who earn a master’s degree, unless that advanced degree is required for their position. If a teacher is already collecting this extra pay, or their master’s degree will be completed by April 1, 2014, they will be grandfathered in and will still collect that supplement. It’s important to note that other state employees don’t get raises just for earning a master’s degree.

Interestingly, research has shown that teacher performance and student outcomes have no bearing on attaining an advanced degree. According to the Center for American Progress, a liberal research and advocacy organization, “teachers with master’s degrees … are no more effective, on average, than their counterparts without master’s degrees.”

But I heard from my neighbor, who’s a teacher, that Republicans are cutting 9,000 positions this year.

The General Assembly authorizes a certain number of positions for each school district, and it’s up to the school district to hire people to fill those positions. Sometimes they do, but in many cases they don’t — so the positions remain vacant. Think of it this way: as a business owner, you’d like to hire 100 new employees, but your revenues don’t meet expectations so you only choose to hire 25. Can someone legitimately claim that you fired 75 people?

And under the former Perdue administration, these vacant positions continued to be funded — despite the fact that in many cases there were no actual employees working in the jobs. School boards got to keep the extra cash — nearly $300 million statewide — and spent it however they wanted, often hiding expenditures for items like cars for coaches and administrative assistants. The new budget eliminates this so-called “K-12 flex cut” for local districts to bring more transparency and accountability to the budgeting process.

The point here is that “positions” are different than people. Especially vacant ones.

What about these vouchers I’m hearing about? My tax money will go to send kids to private school?

Yes. The budget expands school choice in North Carolina by creating a new pilot program that awards “opportunity scholarships” to 2,000 low-income students in the 2014-15 school year. Only those children who already qualify for the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch program would be eligible for the grants.

Locally-based private scholarships have worked very well in North Carolina, and the Opportunity Scholarship Act aims at replicating these successes at the state level. For example, the Charlotte Children’s Scholarship Fund, which benefits low-income and predominantly African-American children, saw student performance in reading and math increase by six percentage points after just one year in the program.

As we’ve seen, it costs $8,757 a year to educate a child in North Carolina. Opportunity Scholarship grants for 2014-2015 will be in the amount of $4,200 — leaving $4,557 additional money back in the public school and relieving them of the burden of educating the child. For more information on North Carolina’s Opportunity Scholarship Grant program, click here.

OK. What else does the education budget do?

A number of significant new reforms have been enacted. Among some of the highlights:

The budget provides funding to implement critical school safety measures, such as resource officers, and expands the use of technology and innovation in schools. The budget also adds $23.6 million to continue funding the Excellent Public Schools Act, which will strengthen student literacy, improve graduation rates and increase accountability. Tuition for out-of-state students at our public universities has been increased in order to keep tuition more affordable for North Carolina families. And the State Board of Education is now required to work with community colleges to create specific programs in high schools (e.g. engineering, technology and other high-employment vocational fields) to better prepare young adults for employment.

Although we might disagree on how to get there, we all want only the best for North Carolina’s students. To be sure, change can be uncomfortable, especially for institutional bureaucracies and certain entrenched liberal special interest groups. But by moving forward together, we can give our students even more opportunities to grow and prosper so they are prepared to lead our state to a brighter future.

Posted in Newsroom on August 8, 2013.