The News and Observer reports: The North Carolina House passed a bill last week, “just hours after it became public, that would take some power from the governor and give it to the legislature. It is the latest move by the Republican-majority General Assembly to take power from Democratic Governor Roy Cooper. The bill would take control from the governor — and give it to the House and Senate’s top elected officials — to appoint seats on a local community college board, a move that has been done before. It is a local bill, meaning it cannot be vetoed by the governor.”
Last week we shared concerns from current and former Board of Governors members about a planned $115 million expenditure to relocate the UNC System office. The news about community college governance changes demonstrates that legislators are determined to find a way around the Governor’s veto power to work their will when it comes North Carolina’s public education systems and we have to ask; to what end?
A look back at several public education governance actions paints an alarming and dangerous picture; especially when you consider Senator Berger’s expressed desire to create “synergies between the UNC System, the North Carolina Community College System, the state Department of Public Instruction and the state Department of Commerce”. He goes on to say that he’d like to see them all in one building – or at least one campus. “Maybe just one building, it may be a couple of buildings,” he said. “But I think they need to be in close proximity.” Since the NC Community College office is right next to the legislature, “close proximity” could mean easy access for legislators.
Recent actions, combined with those listed below, lead to this question; are these efforts part of a plan to completely transform public education in North Carolina?
- The Board of Governors being stacked with political appointees who will do the bidding of legislators.
- The Board of Governors hiring political strategist and former Phil Berger Chief of Staff Jim Blaine to guide/assist the new Chair with UNC system policy.
- The UNC Board of Governors, unusually, rejecting all five of the Chancellor’s recommendations for the UNC Chapel Hill Board of Trustees.
- The UNC system president given the power to select his own chancellor with a policy change.
- UNC Chapel Hill trustees inserting themselves into the hiring process for people two to three levels below the chancellor or vice chancellor levels.
- An increased number of political allies running for local school boards–even in progressive areas like Durham and Chapel Hill–to exert more influence over K-12.
It’s Time for Action
If you are concerned about this, we urge you to make your concerns known. You can do this by writing opinion pieces, contacting legislators, contacting members of the governing bodies, sharing content on social media platforms, and/or sharing your written comments with the Coalition so that we can republish them. You can find more contact information on our website.
The time to act is now. If you have something to say, The Coalition for Carolina will do what we can to amplify your message, but it will take more than just one voice to have an impact. We urge you to speak up.
One thought on “A Step-by-Step Political Power Grab”
I have long been concerned about the lack of faculty governance at UNC. As a proud recipient of two degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill (BA 69, MAT 72), and a native of rural North Carolina, I give much credit to UNC for opening my eyes to the world at large rather than giving in to provincialism.
I was pleased to see that Dr. Mimi Chapman, faculty chair, is establishing listening sessions for faculty. I believe this opportunity should be extended to alumni. If there are groups set up to support the original mission of UNC-CH, please let me know. I would like to send my resume. Please let me know how to do that.
Mary Wayne Watson, PhD
Humanities Professor Emeritus