“Yellies” are a Great Christmas Gift

For people you don’t actually like, who have young children.


The “Yellies,” as they’re appropriately named, only work when your children scream at them.

The louder the voices, the faster the furry creatures go.

Kids can even trigger something called “freakout mode,” which only happens when little ones really ramp up the shrieking.

As you might expect, parents aren’t so thrilled.

It is a toy which encourages children to yell more. Designed by evil people.

That reminds me of the time I gave my brother’s boy a toddler karaoke machine with an amplified microphone.

Buy at Amazon.


Catch-22, Raleigh Style

“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them.” Joseph Heller, Catch-22
Image result for catch 22
According to Alex Granados of Education NC, Governor Roy Cooper is in a classic Catch-22.  Inside a single bill is a provision to help Wayne County Schools maintain control of Carver Heights Elementary and a provision to allow teachers in charter schools in the Charlotte area participate in the state health and retirement plans. 
Wayne County Schools has been trying to turn around Carver Heights, and locals oppose the state take-over. The four new charter schools are seen by some as a way to create segregated schools.  The General Assembly has already approved the creation of the schools, but the bill now on the governor’s desk would make the charter schools more attractive workplaces for prospective teachers.
If he signs the bill, he’ll disappoint someone.

It remains to be seen what the Governor will do, but he is faced with an unenviable choice. He either aides a school district desperately trying to hold onto its school, or he helps four towns separate themselves from the traditional public school system.

For a Democrat like Cooper, it is a choice without an easy answer.


Everybody Expects NC Teachers to be Paid More

A preview of the NC General Assembly session which starts January 9th, from a site called JDSupra: (Operated by a public affairs firm vcalled McGuire Woods Consulting.)

Teacher pay raises: Since taking power in 2011, Republicans have increased teacher pay, but Democrats have criticized the amounts of the raises and the state’s standing in national rankings. Expect Gov. Cooper and legislative Democrats to make higher teacher pay a top priority next year.

I’m particularly chaffed that the teacher pay scale holds individual teachers at the same rate for several years.  Between year 15 and year 24, the pay is expected to be the same. ($5,000 a month.) I’m not complaining about teacher pay; others have it much worse. Some have it better.

Of course, the salary schedule will probably be completely reworked again this year. 

Wilson Times:We Endorse the Bond, but We Know a Better Way

The Wilson Times is in favor of the 1.9 billion dollar bond for schools, but bets on another way:

While the school construction bond is a worthy investment, we can’t pay our bills on billion-dollar credit cards forever. The state needs more recurring revenue to support public education. That’s why The Wilson Times is calling on lawmakers to legitimize, regulate and tax video sweepstakes centers and devote 100 percent of the proceeds to our schools.

Because we totally can trust lawmakers to devote 100% of any revenue to a single area. Have we done this area before?

As for moral resistance to gambling, that horse has been out of the barn for more than a decade. The N.C. Education Lottery ponied up $100 million for local school systems this year. A tax on sweepstakes gaming would serve as a much-needed multiplier.

Can anyone come up with another revenue raiser for schools? Legalize and tax pot? Tolls in the car-rider line?

Or maybe some level of general taxation and spending policy which allows for an appropriate level of financial support for infrastructure? I know. Crazy talk.


Lead in Water at Some Charlotte Schools

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Tests show water fixtures at 41 of Charlotte-Mecklenburg 89 oldest schools had unsafe levels of lead, and officials say those fixtures have been removed, blocked off or filtered as soon as the high levels were detected.

The Charlotte Observer reports the school system has completed a second round of testing to identify drinking fountains and other school water sources leaching unsafe levels of lead.

For how long, and with what damage to students?