Weekend Reads: Tenured faculty under review, changes to the bench, and the lockdown generation speaks out

The UNC System is examining tenure review, incentivizing faculty retirements

UNC System President Peter Hans speaks at Wednesday’s committee meeting. (Photo: PBS NC live stream)

Written by Joe Killian

The system wants a more rigorous review process for tenured faculty

The UNC System Board of Governors is calling for a more consistent and rigorous review process, with some members questioning the low number of faculty members who are not meeting expectations.

In sometimes tense conversations during a day of committee meetings Wednesday, board members, faculty members and campus administrators discussed the often misunderstood issue of tenure — which has become a topic of national debate in higher education — and how to review professors. (Read more...)

Their academic freedom is in jeopardy, and college faculty in North Carolina and other Southern states want out

Photo of the UNC Chapel Hill campus
UNC-Chapel Hill faculty are among a large group at Southeastern universities who are concerned about conservatives’ assault on academic freedom. Photo: Clayton Henkel

Written by Joe Killian

Faculty members at universities in North Carolina, Florida, Georgia and Texas say they would not recommend their tenure to other academics, according to a new study by the American Association of University Professors. Many of them want to leave their universities for jobs in other states or abandon the profession altogether, citing a political climate hostile to higher education and threats to academic freedom.

The survey of 4,250 faculty members in the four states, conducted in August, found low morale and anxiety about the future among respondents. Nearly two-thirds said they would not recommend their state as a desirable place for their colleagues to work. Nearly a third said they were seriously considering interviewing elsewhere in the next academic year. (Read more...)

Former Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan is joining the growing gubernatorial race field

Mike Morgan
Former NC Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan – Photo: https://twitter.com/judgemikemorgan

By: Rob Scofield

As hinted at in a series of recent public comments and social media posts, newly retired North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Mike Morgan announced today that he will seek the Democratic Party’s nomination for governor in next March’s primary election.

Morgan’s entry into the field makes him the second prominent Democrat to enter the race. Attorney General Josh Stein, who recently received the endorsement of outgoing Gov. Roy Cooper, announced his candidacy in January. (Read more...)

Governor Cooper selects Judge Allison Riggs to fill the vacancy on the N.C. Supreme Court

Governor Roy Cooper speaks as Judge Allison Riggs and Judge Carolyn Thompson look on.
Governor Cooper appointed Judge Alison Riggs to serve on the North Carolina Supreme Court and Judge Carolyn Thompson to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals. (Photo: Office of Governor Roy Cooper.)

Written by Clayton Henkel

Nine months after Gov. Roy Cooper appointed Allison Riggs to serve on the North Carolina Court of Appeals, Cooper turned to Riggs again today, asking her to fill the vacancy created by the recent resignation of State Supreme Court Associate Justice Mike Morgan.

In announcing the promotion Monday afternoon, the governor expressed his unwavering confidence in both Riggs and the woman who will fill Riggs’ seat on the Court of Appeals. (Read more…)

Changes in elections give legislators in the National Conference more power and bring them back to the fore

Voters line up to cast their ballots.
(Photo by Stephen Maturin/Getty Images)

Written by Lynn Bonner

The House bill appears to allow public access to ballots

North Carolina Republicans’ multi-level election reconstruction moved forward Wednesday with a House committee approving a bill reshaping state and local election administration that opponents see as a path toward reducing early voting and gridlock.

The bill takes away the governor’s authority to appoint members to the state election board and gives it to legislators. The state Board of Elections will grow from five to eight members. Four of the eight members will be appointed by Republican legislative leaders and four by Democratic leaders. Membership in the 100 county election boards will be reduced from five to four, with two members appointed by Republican legislators and two by Democrats.Read more...)

Advocates and administrators: ‘Parents’ Bill of Rights’ is a burden on Chatham County Schools

Strong public school advocates listen during a Chatham County Board of Education meeting
Strong public school advocates listen during a Chatham County Board of Education meeting. Photography: Greg Childress

Written by Greg Childress

State Comptroller Truitt has asked lawmakers to extend the Sept. 15 deadline for new mandates, but legislative action appears unlikely.

Days before the legal deadline, Chatham County public school leaders are struggling to implement provisions in Senate Bill 49, a controversial bill that became state law in mid-August and requires teachers to alert parents if their child changes their name or pronoun in the school . It also restricts instruction about gender identity and sexuality in K-4 classrooms.

Public school districts statewide have until Friday, September 15, to incorporate the policy provisions required by the new law. (Read more.…)

DEQ is fighting a ruling in favor of the Wake Stone Mine near Umsted State Park

by Lisa Surg

The agency appealed Judge van der Vaart’s ruling to the Supreme Court; Requests temporary residence

Administrative Law Judge Donald Van Der Vaart ignored evidence, made errors of logic and misinterpreted state law when he ruled in favor of Wake Stone, which plans to expand its Triangle quarry to abut Umstead State Park in Raleigh. Those are among the allegations included in documents filed last week by the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, which is appealing Van der Vaart’s decision to Wake Superior Court.

The DEQ also asked the court to temporarily halt construction on the expansion until the dispute is resolved. (Read more...)

Start of new school year sends message about North Carolina’s future (Comment)

Empty classroom
Empty classrooms like this could become a more common phenomenon if North Carolina leaders fail to invest in the public school infrastructure needed to handle a warming climate. Photo: Getty Images

Written by Rob Scofield

Persistent hot summers and the inconvenience they cause to humans are not the only negative (or worst) impacts of the global climate emergency.

Likewise, when it comes to public education in North Carolina, upgrading school facilities is just one item on a to-do list as long as your arm.

Still, it was impossible not to be struck by the illustrative way in which these two truck-size issues have converged across the state in recent days, and the alarm the convergence should signal. (Read more…)

‘Generation Lockdown’ calls on Republicans to reform gun laws

UNC-Chapel Hill students are calling on the General Assembly to take action to reduce gun violence after a deadly shooting on their campus. (Photo: Clayton Henkel)

by Kellan Lyons

This rally comes hours after Republicans submitted a bill expanding access to concealed handguns

Students from across North Carolina gathered in front of the Legislative Building on Tuesday to demand that Republicans pass bills restricting people’s access to guns.

“Being part of the lockdown generation is not something you want to be a part of,” said Leah Krevat, 20, a gun reform activist for five years. “We need to pass background checks, and red flag laws banning assault weapons, because we cannot continue to live this way.” (Read more...)

Legally required racial data still fails to prove police stop people for ‘driving while black’

Flashing lights on a police car
Photo: Getty Images

By Kellan Lyons

More than 80% of traffic stops made by Raleigh police officers involved black drivers. This was not enough to prove that Jeremy Johnson was searched because of his race.

Jeremy Johnson had parked his Ford Mustang next to a “No Trespassing” sign in the Raleigh North Apartments parking lot in the early morning hours of November 22, 2017. While Raleigh Police Officer P.A. Cotchin was patrolling the parking lot, He looked like Johnson to him. He placed his body under the steering wheel, apparently trying to hide from the officer.

Cotchin later said he smelled marijuana when Johnson tried to get out of the car. Johnson did not respond to his order to remain in the car, according to Cochin. When Cochin went to handcuff him, Johnson fled. Cotchin and another officer quickly tackled Johnson to the ground and handcuffed him. Officers searched Johnson and found cocaine and marijuana.Read more...)

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