Under the Dome

More U.S. history, not less, Basnight says

February 15, 2010 

State Senate leader and history buff Marc Basnight opposes a proposal to limit the big U.S. history course high-schoolers take to the post-Reconstruction years.

School boards, history teachers and others have criticized the proposed curriculum, which would push much of early U.S. history to the elementary and middle school years.

Basnight, a Manteo Democrat, wants more U.S. history taught in high school, not less.

"We should be doubling, maybe even tripling, our efforts and enhancing the coursework that is now taught in high school," Basnight said in a letter to State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison and state Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson.

"I am absolutely opposed to any change that would limit the study to the years proposed," Basnight wrote.

Curriculum writers will have more revisions before the State Board of Education approves a plan.

Meet the candidates

In an effort to give Democratic activists a chance to meet the U.S. Senate candidates, the state party will hold at least two meet-and-greets.

The first one will be held at Winston-Salem State University in March and will feature the three main Senate candidates: Cal Cunningham, Ken Lewis and Elaine Marshall. A second is being planned, and others may be added around the state, according toAndrew Whalen, the party's executive director.

The idea for the meet-and-greets, Whalen said, is to allow Democrats a chance meet the candidates one on one and make it easier on the campaigns, which are inundated with requests to speak to local Democratic organizations.

Each event will include a chance for candidates to speak seven to 10 minutes, as long as they don't attack their fellow Democrats, Whalen said. There will also be time for them to mingle with the crowd.

The first event will be held at 7 p.m. March8 at the student center at Winston-Salem State.

Pension fund gains

North Carolina's state pension fund ended 2009 with a 15 percent return on its investments, State Treasurer Janet Cowell announced recently.

The fund, the 10th-largest public pension fund in the country, ended the year with $67 billion, which is a $1.2billion increase from the end of the third quarter.

Stocks and bonds make up 90percent of the fund's investments, and stock gains helped account for the growth. Real estate investments continued to go down, but Cowell said the losses had slowed.

Despite the positive returns, Cowell cautioned, as she has before, that the recession will leave an impact on the fund for years. She emphasized that the legislature will need to pump more money into the fund.

"The long-term health of the pension fund is important not only to retirees, but to the financial stability of the state," Cowell said in a prepared statement. "It is imperative that state and local leaders prepare for increased and sustained pension contributions in their budgets over the coming years."

Professor Price is back

U.S. Rep. David Price is returning to the classroom.

Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat and former political science professor at Duke University, will teach a political science class at N.C. Central University on Thursday. The university's various political science clubs will attend, and Price will open the floor for questions after the lecture.

By staff writers Lynn Bonner, Rob Christensen, Mark Johnson and Benjamin Niolet.

lynn.bonner@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4821

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