A Gamble that Doesn’t pay Off

Underfunding of North Carolina schools is not a new issue, no matter how fresh and exciting the topic may seem based on recent movements and the gubernatorial election. In 2006, the state ranked 45th out of 51 (including DC) for raising teacher salary, according to the National Education Association.

One possible solution was the NC Education Lottery, but how does the lottery affect NC schools today, and are there drawbacks?

At the lottery’s creation in 2006, proponents, including former governor Mike Easley, promised that the program would add an extra half a billion dollars every year towards education.  

As of June 2016, the lottery generated over $4.6 billion. Of that sum, Orange County was awarded $46,067,044 in total, including $7,285,302 last year. But today the state spends less per pupil than before the lottery was instated.

One possible reason for the decrease in spending, despite an increase in revenue, is that sometimes lottery money simply replaces other sources of revenue such as corporate income tax.  

In 2012, the General Assembly lowered corporate income tax after it was removed from the budget for the construction of new schools and replaced by lottery funds.

Further, critics believe the lottery to be its own kind of “tax” on the poor, because poor individuals are more likely to spend and lose money on tickets.

Business Insider reported that, across all states, when the economy goes down, lottery revenue goes up.  At the height of the 2008 recession, 22 states set record high lottery sales, and spending on the NC Education Lottery is highest in the poorest counties. Why? When individuals can’t afford traditional forms of investment, like stock, they see cheap lottery tickets as their own form of investment.  

A 2004 study by Garrick Blalock, David R. Just, and Daniel H. Simon reported that in California, around 75 percent of players who made less than $30,000 a year said they play the lottery for money instead of fun, while only percent of players making over this margin said the same to be true.

And although possible earnings are huge, an investment of this sort is not likely to pay out.  The chances of winning top prizes have been calculated as one in one million in some draws.

The lottery may not actually be responsible for lower spending on education compared to before the lottery began; these decreases could only be evidence of a larger, more deeply-rooted trend.

Spending on education in general has been steadily decreasing since the 1980s.   Education made up 43.7% of the state budget in 1984, 42% in 1994, 41.1% in 2004, and 37% in 2014.  

But whatever the reason for the budget cuts, many school districts are now forced to choose between raising taxes or working with limited resources.

While the lottery does claim to invest 95% of their profit back in the state in forms  of prizes and educational investments, the game is simply another form of income for the government. In 2011, the General Assembly covered a shortage in Medicaid funding by using $26 million of lottery winnings, inciting controversy.  

Both gubernatorial candidates, Pat McCrory (R) and Roy Cooper (D) show support for allocating more of the lottery’s revenue towards education.

Regardless of possible misuse of funds on the part of elected officials, some members of the public support the lottery and its attempt to strengthen public education.

“I appreciate what the lottery does for education and I think about it a lot. It means a lot that when people buy tickets, someone down the street could get an education from it,” said Michael Pepper, who won one million dollars playing Powerball, and whose quote is displayed on the Education Lottery’s home page.  

But this is a quote from someone who won big.  It’s harder to see or care about those who lose, because their losses are small in comparison to prizes that amount to more than many residents make in a year.  Yet no matter how spread out, across school districts serving thousands or poor communities home to tens or hundreds of thousands, these losses add up quickly.

Photo courtesy WXII News

Blast to the Past: A Look Back at the First Four-Year Graduating Class of CHS

Two thousand and seven: the year Steve Jobs released the first iPhone, J.K. Rowling published the final installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Barack Obama announced his candidacy for President (and became a household name) and the chart-topping song was Umbrella by Rihanna.

As people prepared for the last Harry Potter book, or the newest technology, a handful of students in Carrboro and Chapel Hill prepared for their first day of a new school. In August of 2007, Carrboro High School opened its doors for the first time, welcoming a class of freshman and sophomores from Chapel Hill High. 2007 seems like a different world, but it wasn’t even ten years ago. As we come up on Carrboro’s tenth anniversary, we spoke with some of the first Carrboro graduates (class of 2010-2011) to see what they had to say about their experiences at CHS.

Adam Glasser

Currently: Working as a teacher assistant at a elementary school during the day and attending classes at NC State at night.

High school activities: Track, Cross Country, Basketball, and Lacrosse

Adam Glasser in High School before T Dance. Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.

Adam Glasser in High School before T Dance. Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.

What were some of your favorite memories from your time at Carrboro?

The pranks we pulled my senior year were memorable. Three of my buddies inadvertently set fire to the grass behind the school while setting off fireworks. This should be part of Carrboro history forever in my opinion. During senior week, we filled up what must have been thousands of cups full of water and covered the halls with them. The next morning, the seniors had to clean up the cups, which was probably a mistake on the administration’s part because we ended up sending waves of water into various math classrooms. Now that I am working at a school, I want to apologize for these shenanigans on behalf of the Class of 2011!

What are some defining characteristics of Carrboro?

I love how tight knit Carrboro was when I was a student there. I think I knew just about every face in the school (and almost every name). When I was living in San Francisco this past year, I went to the Bay Area’s “Official UNC vs. Duke Game Watch Party”. I recognized four other Jaguars that were at Carrboro with me when I was in high school. Even though we had graduated in different years, it was great catching up with them and bonding with them over our experiences as Carrboro students.

Anna Noone

Currently: Working for the legislative and public policy group at Arnold & Porter, a law firm in DC.

High school activities: Class council, Model UN, Spanish Honors Society

Anna Noone (middle) in high school. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

Anna Noone (middle) in high school. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

What were some of your favorite memories from your time at Carrboro?

I don’t know if they still do or allow this, but our class council had a lot of school lock ins and those were always so much fun. AP Bio (weird as this sounds) was another favorite. Before my junior year I took a trip to Spain with a group from the school which was amazing. Just generally though most of my best friends are my high school friends – so most of the time I spent there was great.

Anna Noone (right) this year with friends. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

Anna Noone (right) this year with friends. Photo courtesy Anna Noone.

How do you think your time at Carrboro has influenced you today?

I did not realize while I was at Carrboro how important it was to have such an open, inclusive community that really rejected a lot of the types of prejudice you see in other similar schools. I found it to be very accepting but thought that was the norm until I spoke with people who had had very different experiences in high school, with more racism or homophobia or exclusive cliques. I think it made me a more confident person and more comfortable with myself than I may otherwise have been. Definitely don’t take that for granted.

Do you have any advice for this year’s graduating class, going through their senior year of high school right now?

Don’t take it for granted.  Senior year has the potential to be so much fun, but at the same time don’t go too crazy. Don’t stress too much about college; Carrboro High does about as good a job of preparing you for college as you can do. Take your AP exams seriously – you’ll love getting placed out of gen eds in college. It’s never too early to start planning ahead.

Abby Dennison

Currently: Moving back from a year in Paris and relocating to California, where she’s studying to become a French teacher at Stanford.

High school activities: Marching Band, Math team, Jagwire writer, JAG and SPOT

Abby Denison in a marching band outfit in high school. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

Abby Denison in a marching band outfit in high school. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

What are some defining characteristics of Carrboro?

What strikes me about Carrboro looking back is how much freedom we had. So many of the organizations, initiatives, and special events were nearly entirely student-run—it was a little like Lord of the Flies, except with really happy and positive outcomes. (So, I guess, not at all like Lord of the Flies…) It felt like we were really self-governed and self-directed. Because the school was new, students could start anything and everything. Really, nothing was impossible! And we had teachers who trusted us, cared about us, and encouraged us to dream big.

Carrboro was also a place of community action, where students and teachers alike were passionate about social causes, political reform, and big ideas. Pretty cool for a high school!  This, I know, hasn’t changed, and is part of the core of what Carrboro is. I hope that the community holds onto this; it has the power to be truly transformative for the students that pass through here.

Abby Denison in Paris this year. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

Abby Denison in Paris this year. Photo courtesy Abby Denison.

How do you think your time at Carrboro has influenced you today?

I was a late bloomer for sure, and Carrboro was such a safe and welcoming space for me to learn who I was. It was a place where it was cool to be nerdy, where everybody knew everybody, and where we really loved to learn and debate and create. Now that I’m becoming a teacher myself, I realize how special this is! Carrboro introduced me to so many fantastic role models and new ideas…the teachers really, sincerely believed in our potential as a generation. Their encouragement gave me the confidence to take risks and try new things, and I think that’s carried me into college and beyond.

Top photo: Adam Glasser at a school in Capetown, South Africa this year.  Photo courtesy Adam Glasser.

CHCCS Olympics

Carrboro High students are now able to fight for glory against their friends from different schools in the district. This summer, the Student Government Association (SGA) from all three CHCCS high schools met several times to discuss a way to increase competition and unity between the district high schools.

Inspired by the Summer Olympics, SGA leaders decided to create a CHCCS Olympics of their own.

When brainstorming events to connect the three schools, East Chapel Hill President Jopsy Bayog suggested SGA create an event out of activities they already knew how to organize, like powderpuff football and men’s volleyball.  “[We wanted to] commemorate the 2016 Summer Olympics and establish a framework for future Student Governments,” said Bayog.

Once every quarter, students from all three schools will compete against each other in one sport. In the first quarter students will play kickball; second quarter, dodgeball; third quarter, powderpuff football and men’s volleyball; and fourth quarter, capture the flag. Kickball tryouts were held on October 14th.

The top three individuals in each event will earn points based on how they place: five points for a first place finish, three for second place, and one for third. The point system will be cumulative with points earned from each event contributing to the final tally.

“The goal is to kind of create competition between the three schools,” said CHS President Grace Nanney. “By doing that you [also] get to hang out with your friends from other schools, and you get to have more spirit within your own school.”

Organizers hope to also instill new traditions.

The school with the most points by the end of the school year will take home a trophy. This prize is inspired by the UNC vs Duke victory bell, a traveling trophy given to the winner of the annual football game between the two famed rivals.

Other prizes will also be sold throughout the year; for example, t-shirts for each school will be sold at the event. To increase friendly competition, the school that sells the highest number of t-shirts relative to their school’s size will have points added to their final score.

The CHCCS olympics marks the first time student governments of each district high school unite for a year-long event.

“It’s a way for students to get involved and represent their school in a huge way,” said Chapel Hill High School President Kris Chellani in an email. “Hopefully this becomes a tradition that passes on to future SGAs and increases school spirit for all three schools.”

Mackenzie Cox catches a ball for the Carrboro kickball team.  Photo by Mireille Leone

New Teachers of Carrboro

Every year we welcome a handful a new teachers to Carrboro with open arms.  Get to know some of the newest members of the CHS faculty.

Jacqueline Smith

Jacqueline Smith adds a positive and fresh attitude to Carrboro High School.  She taught previously in Durham and Ohio, and loves Carrboro already.

“Carrboro is by far the best school I have taught at,” she said.  Smith praises CHS for its very inviting atmosphere.  

Jaqueline Smith in a world history class. Photo by Levi Hencke.

Jaqueline Smith in a world history class

“The students and staff are enthusiastic and friendly. I am also enjoying the strong sense of community at CHS,” she said.  Smith teaches world history and civics & economics, and is the new Freshman Class Advisor.

A fun fact is that she was an extra in the movie The Ides of March starring Ryan Gosling and George Clooney.  The opening scene of the movie was filmed at Miami University, where Smith went to college, and you can see her twice in the first few minutes.

Lisa Rubenstein

While Ms. Rubenstein isn’t a new face to CHS, she is an honorary new teacher after having taking a break to teach abroad. Currently, she teaches ninth grade English and AP Literature.

Ms. Rubenstein’s experience spans beyond high school english. She has also taught Spanish, typing and math.  An avid traveler, Ms. Rubenstein has worked at schools around the country and world in places such as California, Canada, Jamaica, Mozambique, Kenya and Italy.

“Carrboro is different because it’s small for an American public school, and it also has a well-maintained campus, ” said Rubenstein.  In her free time she enjoys making and selling jewelry.

Anna Lewis

“Carrboro is different from other schools because of how close the students are to each other. It is refreshing to see students laughing with each other instead of tearing each other down,” said Anna Lewis, the newest face of the science department.

Anna Lewis teaches an environmental science class. Photo by Mireille Leone.

Anna Lewis teaches an environmental science class

Lewis teaches Earth and Environmental Science as well as AP Environmental Science. Previously, she has taught chemistry, physical science and astronomy. After a long day of work, Lewis enjoys relaxing and watching an episode of Gilmore Girls or Golden Girls, her two favorite TV shows.

Top photo: Lisa Rubenstien helps student Gavin Leone in a 9th grade English class.  Photo by Mireille Leone.