Civitas Review

National School Choice Week


January 25-31 is National School Choice Week!

This year over 11,000 events are planned to show your support for school choice.  What’s going on in your area ?    The National School Choice Week web site has a handy feature that allows you to search for events by zip code.   Cool.

So What's going on in the Raleigh area?

Tomorrow the John Locke Foundation is  hosting a National School Choice Breakfast Event at the Raleigh City Club  (28th floor of the Wells Fargo Building) beginning at 7:30 a.m.   The event  includes guest speakers as well as a showing of the school choice film,  The Ticket.

If you can't make tomorrow's breakfast, don't worry. There are hundreds of other events in North Carolina and thousands of events nationally where you can stand up for school choice!

Killing them softly: SBE and virtual public charter schools


Should virtual public charter schools be required by the state to provide Learning Coaches if parents or other adults are not able to work with at home virtual public school students? A subcommittee of the State Board of Education thinks so and has added the provision to a re-worked contract that would also require online public charters to provide computer equipment and internet connections for students who could not afford them.

Last I checked NC Virtual Public School (NCVPS) does not provide at home Learning Coaches, nor had any plans to do so.  Many educators and administrators constantly say they want public schools to have the same flexibility as charter schools. OK, we'll wait for NCVPS to sign up for at-home Learning Coaches. See how that fits in the budget

This is just another example of onerous, unjustified regulations, and why the process for authorizing charters needs to be changed.

Gene Nichol's Poverty Center: Making Poverty Worse?


Gene Nichol & Co. continue to plea their case to save the UNC Poverty Center from possible cuts of research centers being considered by the Board of Governors. A key component to the Poverty Center's mission is to "advocate for proposals, policies and services to mitigate poverty in North Carolina," with one of their top goals being to "examine innovative and practical ideas to move more men, women and children out of poverty."

But according to data from the Poverty Center's own website, under Nichol's watch poverty in North Carolina has not only gotten worse in absolute terms, but relative to the national average as well.

NC's poverty rate in 2008, the year Nichol took over the Poverty Center, was 14.6%.   Compared to the national poverty rate that year of 13.2%, North Carolina's poverty rate was 10.6 percent higher than the national average.

The most recent poverty figures available at the Poverty Center's website are from a spring 2013 report, which shows North Carolina's poverty rate has climbed to 17.2%, which is 13 percent higher than the national average.

If North Carolina continues to fall further behind the national average in poverty, what good, exactly is Nichol's Poverty Center doing?

All Aboard! Empty "Express" Buses are Waste of the Week


$110 per round-trip commute. That's what taxpayers are paying to subsidize riders of the Johnston County Express. The Express is a bus service established to help alleviate traffic headaches for commuters during the Fortify 40/440 project. But high costs and low ridership have turned this service into Civitas' Waste of the Week.

The Express has proved to be very costly. As shown in the chart below, for the 12 months ending November 2014 (the latest data available) the total cost was $519,984 to serve 8,780 riders – which comes to an average cost per rider, per trip of $59.22.[i]

Meanwhile, the fare for riders comes to $3.00 a trip, which means that taxpayers have been subsidizing each rider to the tune of more than $55 for each one-way trip. For each rider’s daily round-trip commute on the Express, taxpayers are paying about $110.

And at such a great expense, the Express has done nothing to ease the traffic snarl of the Fortify project. Most months the Express bus averages around 2 riders per trip. If anything, adding a 40-foot bus with an average of 2 passengers traveling back and forth to downtown makes traffic worse.

Civitas Drops a "Bombshell"


That's the description the radical left-wing rag IndyWeek gave to the Civitas Institute's new project: Mapping the Left (MTL).

MTL is an online resource connecting the dots and exposing the massive, well-funded army of left-wing advocacy groups clamoring for expanded government and an erosion of our freedoms.

Click here to read the article introducing the MTL project, here is a sample:

What you will find on the Mapping the Left website:  more than 140 organizations involving more than 1,800 individuals and funded by more than 300 foundations. Since 2003, these foundations have contributed more than $400 million to the organizations listed in the Mapping the Left project. Sixty-five of the funders are North Carolina-based; their contributions to the left-wing groups total at least $153 million.

Forget everything they try to tell you about money and influence in NC politics. Check out now.