• 57°

Cooper vetoes bill designed to retool reading program

By Gary D. Robertson

Associated Press

RALEIGH — Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper on Friday vetoed a bill designed to clean up a student reading comprehension program championed for years by Senate leader Phil Berger, a Republican.

While this veto marked the third issued in as many days from Cooper, it could be the one most vexing for Republicans and for Berger, who is ostensibly the governor’s top political rival. The two already are engaged in an impasse over the state budget, which was supposed to be enacted nearly two months ago, and whether to expand Medicaid.

Friday’s veto blocked efforts to retool the “Read to Achieve” program that began in 2013. It seeks to ensure students are reading-proficient before they complete third grade — otherwise they could be held back. But a 2018 North Carolina State University study found no benefit on reading scores from the program that had received more than $150 million.

The bill in part directs teachers to create tailored individual reading plans for at-risk children, seeks more literacy training for teachers and gives them incentives to work in summer reading camps.

In his veto message, Cooper described the bill as putting a “Band-Aid on a program where implementation has clearly failed.”

“Teaching children to read well is a critical goal for their future success, but recent evaluations show that Read to Achieve is ineffective and costly,” Cooper said.

Berger has said Read to Achieve works well in some places and needs adjustments elsewhere.

A recent dustup between competing reading diagnostic technology companies and the Republican state schools superintendent also “adds to uncertainty for educators and parents,” Cooper wrote. Some Democratic legislators were unhappy that an amendment allowing local school boards to decide which diagnostic tools their teachers could use was left out of the final bill.

Berger’s office quickly accused Cooper of issuing the veto only because it’s from Berger. The additional proof, according to a Berger news release: Democratic State Board of Education member J.B. Buxton, whom Cooper appointed, helped write the initial bill and attended a news conference in April supporting it.

“The governor’s own administration helped write this bill because helping kids learn to read wasn’t a partisan issue — until now,” spokesman Bill D’Elia said. “The real reason Gov. Cooper blocked this early childhood reading program is because of the name of the bill sponsor: Phil Berger.”

Legislators will have to decide whether to override the veto. The difficulty may come in the House, where only three Democrats supported the final bill. Republicans likely would need a few more Democrats to join them, since GOP majorities in the General Assembly aren’t veto-proof.

Cooper has now issued 35 vetoes since taking office in early 2017 and seven this year. During the first two years of his term, Republicans overrode nearly all of his vetoes because they had larger majorities in both chambers.

Comments

High School

Coaches, lawmakers react to governor’s order expanding sporting event capacity

Coronavirus

Three new COVID-19 deaths, positives remain below triple digits

BREAKING NEWS

Gov. Cooper announces end to curfew, changes to restrictions affecting bars, high school sports

Crime

Blotter: Two charged after call about package

Crime

Salisbury Police investigating two shootings

Crime

Chase involving Kernersville man ends in woods behind Carson High School

News Main

North Rowan girls end season with playoff loss to Murphy

Education

Rowan-Salisbury EC department plunges in place after raising $1,300 for Special Olympics

Nation/World

Tiger Woods injured in car crash, has surgery on legs

Local

Local stakeholders set goals, direction to tackle city’s housing issues

Education

RSS board talks future of Henderson Independent School

Coronavirus

One new COVID-19 death, 23 new positives reported Tuesday

Local

Concord to create fallen officer memorial featuring Rowan native Shuping

Crime

20-year-old man faces rape charges

Crime

Blotter: Man charged after shooting gun during argument

Local

UPDATE: Missing Salisbury man found

Education

RSS board votes to use upset bid process on Faith property

Local

Committee to soon accept artist applications for ‘Paint the Pavement’ project

BREAKING NEWS

RSS board votes to send elementary students to in-person classes four days per week

Coronavirus

County to administer nearly 1,700 vaccines this week

News

Political Notebook: Rep. Howard named ‘hospitality champion’ by North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association

Crime

Blotter: Gunshot fired into home on North Oakhurst Drive

Local

Teenager reported missing in Salisbury

Local

‘Everybody needs an Aunt Libby:’ Family celebrates 100th birthday of Rockwell doctor Elizabeth Lombard