Education

Keith Poston resigns leadership post at Public School Forum of NC  

Keith Poston (center) is stepping down as executive director of The Public School Forum of NC, effective Oct. 31. Poston is shown here at a recent forum for the six Democratic candidates who have announced plans to run for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Public School Forum of NC (PSFNC) announced Wednesday that Keith Poston, president and executive director of the agency, will resign his post effective Oct. 31.

According to a press release, Poston is stepping down to focus on personal family matters.

Michael Priddy, immediate past chairman of the Forum’s Board of Directors, will serve as the nonprofit agency’s acting president and executive director.

“We appreciate Keith’s [Poston] more than five years of service to the Forum and wish him well,” said  PSFNC Chairman Tom Williams.

Williams added: “Priddy’s experience with the Forum and his extensive leadership experience will assure the Forum’s great work will continue as we begin the search for a new executive director who will carry on the Forum’s legacy of advocating for strong public schools across North Carolina.”

An announcement soliciting applications for the Forum’s next executive director is forthcoming, Williams said.

Here’s a statement Poston posted on social media:

As has been reported I have resigned from the Public School Forum. I love the organization and remain deeply committed to its mission, but I need to focus on my family right now. Here is the statement I’ve shared:  It has been the greatest honor of my professional life to serve as the leader of the Public School Forum of North Carolina, but there are personal family matters I need to focus on right now. My belief and commitment to the issues including advocating for public education and our amazing teachers, supporting our state’s most vulnerable children and advancing racial equity is unwavering. There is too much work yet to do in this state and in this country for me to ever stop doing my part.

Education

NC Policy Watch to host Charlotte Crucial Conversation on future of school integration

Join us Wednesday, October 30 for a very special and timely Charlotte Crucial Conversation luncheon:

The future of school integration in North Carolina

Featuring:

Click here to register.

It’s been nearly a half-century since the United States Supreme Court issued its landmark unanimous ruling in the case of Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, in which it affirmed U.S. District Court Judge James McMillan’s ruling that directed CMS to affirmatively integrate its public schools.

Since that time, of course, the combination of subsequent court rulings, new state laws and new local policies have served to undermine and erode the promise of Swann. Today, tragically, genuine racial integration in North Carolina’s public schools remains an unrealized dream throughout most of the state.

The situation is especially acute in Charlotte-Mecklenburg, which, according to a 2018 report by veteran education policy researcher Kris Nordstrom on the North Carolina Justice Center, has become “by far the most racially segregated district in the state.”

So, is the battle over? If not, what’s next in the effort to combat school re-segregation? Join us on Wednesday, October 30 at Charlotte’s Friendship Missionary Baptist Church as we examine these and other timely questions with a distinguished panel of experts.

When: Wednesday, October 30 at 10:00 a.m.— Light refreshments will be available

Where: Friendship Missionary Baptist Church – 3400 Beatties Ford Rd., Charlotte, NC 28216

Space is limited – preregistration requested.

Cost: Suggested donation $10, but no one will be turned away for their inability to pay.

Note: If you are unable to pay the suggested fee while registering online, simply click “pay at the door” to complete your registration.

Questions?? Contact Billy Ball at 919-861-1460 or billy@ncpolicywatch.com

Seats are sure to go fast – don’t miss this very special event!

Click here to register.

Commentary, Trump Administration

As Trump sinks, GOP scrambles to do as much damage as possible in time left

There’s a palpable and growing sense in the nation that the end is in sight for the wretched presidency of Donald Trump. The combination of Trump’s shocking dishonesty and dishonorable foreign policy is even starting to become too much for many Republicans, who have begun to abandon him growing numbers.

And whether the end comes a year from now in an election loss or sooner via the impeachment process, all a caring and thinking person can say is “thank God that the nation is finally waking up!”

Unfortunately, this hopeful news is having an important negative impact in the short term: it’s driving Republicans in Washington to get as much done in the limited time they have left to impact federal policy, even if it means working hand-in-glove with the Prevaricator-in-Chief himself.

For a classic example, consider the nomination of the vile Steven Menashi to serve a lifetime appointment on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Menashi has a dreadful record that the good folks at People for the American Way recently described this way:

Menashi’s abhorrent record of opposing and undermining equity for communities that have been marginalized is one that any ultraconservative Trump Republican would applaud. He has expressed blatant hostility towards the LGBTQ+ community, women, lower-income families, Muslims, and immigrants expressed in countless writings from the 1990s and 2000s. Menashi has also worked alongside White House aide Stephen Miller to advance xenophobic and racist immigration policies of the Trump administration and he has enabled Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s controversial and harmful agenda.

A detailed report from the Alliance for Justice includes this summary:

Steven Menashi has clearly spent his legal career advocating for policies reflecting the racist, sexist, homophobic rhetoric of his past writings. As Betsy Devos’s right-hand man at the Department of Education, he has worked to strip away critical rights and legal protections for women, sexual assault survivors, LGBTQ people, students, and people of color. Demonstrating how far outside even the conservative mainstream he is, in case after case, his views and policies have been repudiated by federal judges. Menashi’s writings and record are completely disqualifying for anyone seeking a lifetime seat on the federal bench. Every senator who votes to confirm Menashi will own the vile positions he has put on paper, as well as the harm he will cause the people of the Second Circuit.

To make matters worse, Senate leader Mitch McConnell appears to be doing his utmost to rush Menashi’s nomination through, just as he has with so many other right-wing judicial nominations. Trump only submitted Menashi’s name in August and it looks as if the Senate could move the nomination very shortly — much quicker than usual.

The bottom line: Those who care about the future of our nation would do well to pay close attention to the metastasizing scandals around Trump, but they should also speak out against the treacherous actions Trump and his lackeys will be taking in the limited time they have left in power.

Environment

Naming names, finally: Shamrock Environmental source of 1,4-Dioxane spike in Pittsboro drinking water

Shamrock Environmental Corporation is the source of a recent 1,4-Dioxane release into the Greensboro wastewater treatment plant, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality announced today.

DEQ is investigating the discharge, which occurred in August but was not reported by the City of Greensboro until Sept. 27. Although the 1,4-Dioxane, a likely carcinogen, originated with Shamrock, the discharge permit for the pretreatment program is held by the city, DEQ said.

North Carolina Health News reported several weeks ago that there had been a spike in 1,4-Dioxane levels downstream in the Pittsboro drinking water supply — the Haw River. This week, Greensboro officials and DEQ declined to name the company to NC Health News.

City officials are cooperating with the investigation, DEQ said. As a result, DEQ has initiated weekly sampling for 1,4 dioxane at Greensboro’s wastewater treatment plant.

1,4-Dioxane is not regulated by the EPA. It is persistent in the environment and impossible to remove using traditional water treatment methods.

Shamrock is headquartered in Browns Summit; it has several facilities in North Carolina and one in Virginia. The Patton Avenue plant, responsible for the discharge, is a tanker cleaning facility. It also treats and manages wastewater, recycles and disposes of drilling mud, and hauls waste.

DEQ’s online waste management document site does not list any notices of violation; nor does the Division of Water Resources online records repository. However, neither is comprehensive.

1,4 dioxane has historically been used as a solvent stabilizer and is currently used for a wide variety of industrial and manufacturing purposes. The compound can be found in industrial solvents, paint strippers, and varnishes and is often produced as a by-product of chemical processes to manufacture soaps, plastics, and other consumer products.

It’s often a byproduct of plastics manufacturing. Earlier this year, a Policy Watch investigation found that very high levels of 1,4-Dioxane in wastewater sludge from DAK Americas, a plastics plant in Fayetteville along the Cape Fear River. The facility was shipping its sludge to McGill Environmental, which was using it to make compost. Although the finished compost didn’t contain 1,4-Dioxane — it likely had evaporated — it was contaminated with PFAS, also known to be in wastewater sludge.

 

News

Study illuminates reality of sexual assault at UNC-Chapel Hill

The results of this year’s Association of American Universities’ (AAU) Campus Climate Survey on Sexual Assault and Sexual Misconduct include stats that paint a disturbing picture of those very serious issues at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Almost 6,000 students at UNC’s flagship campus participated in the study, which sought “to gain understanding of the general climate on campuses across the country regarding sexual assault, sexual harassment, intimate partner (relationship) violence and stalking.”

Among the results:

  • 20.7 percent of all respondents reported experiencing sexual touching or penetration involving physical force; inability to consent or stop what was happening because the student was passed out, asleep or incapacitated due to drugs or alcohol; coercion or without a voluntary agreement.
  • 15.4 percent of all respondents reported experiencing sexual touching alone that included the same factors
  • 11.2 percent of all respondents experiencing sexual penetration alone that included the same factors.

The group most likely to report these experiences were undergraduate women in their fourth year or higher (45 percent). Undergraduate women respondents in general made up 35 percent of those who reported such experiences.

The next highest category was students who identify as transgender men or women, nonbinary, questioning or who did not list a gender identity. More than 26 percent of undergraduate students in that category reported sexual touching or penetration without consent — and more than 29 percent in that category who are fourth year or higher undergraduate students.


Read a breakdown of the full study here.