Commentary, News

school-busespng-91b35e2c325e0b5b1. UNC system official explains N.C.’s prodigious drop in those seeking teaching degrees

Members of the N.C. State Board of Education received some more troubling news about teachers Wednesday.

Alisa Chapman, vice president for academic and university programs in the UNC system, presented data that show the state’s increasing inability to attract students to the teaching profession.

Since 2010, enrollment in bachelor’s and master’s education programs systemwide has plummeted 30 percent, said Chapman. And while the plunge has slowed—enrollment declined just 3.4 percent from fall 2014 to fall 2015, Chapman told state education leaders that the trend should be “very concerning.”

“The challenge in hiring teachers in our state is going to increase,” said Chapman, adding that it would be “even more challenging” to recruit educators in rural counties, many of which serve a low-income population that tends to struggle academically. [Continue reading…]

lw-af-1-4002. Low-income students need more support, not an achievement school district

The public rationale for many of the efforts to dismantle traditional public education with various privatization schemes almost always includes the claim that it is all about helping students do better, most often low-income and minority kids.

Supporters of the sketchy North Carolina voucher program say that often, that it’s all about helping poor kids. The program, euphemistically called opportunity scholarships, currently has income eligibility limits, though they have already been increased once and the long term plan is to make vouchers available to thousands of more students.

The same is true of the state’s current experiment with unproven virtual charters, one run by K12, Inc., a company embroiled in scandals in other states and run out of Tennessee.

The online for profit charters will help kids who are struggling in traditional public schools. That’s the line anyway. [Continue reading...]

WB-20220163. When paranoia and fearmongering trump common sense

McCrory refugee emails show state leaders at their worst

It’s been almost 83 years since President Franklin Roosevelt, facing a moment of enormous national suffering and angst, uttered one of the most famous and insightful observations regarding the American experience in our nation’s history:

So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”

Roosevelt’s prescient words were delivered, of course, in response to the greatest human and economic crisis ever to afflict the nation. Here’s where things stood when he took office in March, 1933: [Continue reading…] Read More

News

If you feel secure in your current job, here’s something that may give you pause:

New analysis by NC State University suggests that jobs in some 39 major current employment categories in our state are at least 70% likely to be eliminated within one generation as a result of automation.

The so-called Disruption Index for North Carolina finds that low-wage jobs are especially at risk.

The index that was developed for this year’s Emerging Issues Forum also finds that on average, North Carolina counties face the potential loss of more than 25% of their current jobs as a result of automation, robots and future technologies.

According to the index, counties poised to take the greatest hit include: Watauga (41% predicted percentage of job losses), Carteret (40%), Dare (40%), Johnston (40%), Buncombe (39%) and Catawba (39%).  See the interactive map below for anticipated job and wage loss.

Anita Brown-Graham, director of the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI), joins us this weekend to discuss the index and the focus of FutureWork. Click below for a preview of her interview with Chris Fitzsimon.

Monday’s Emerging Issues Forum will be streamed live on the web and broadcast on UNC-TV.

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News

Friday marks the 23rd anniversary of the Family Medical Leave Act. The federal law signed by then-President Bill Clinton required covered employers provide their workers with job-protected, unpaid leave for qualified medical reasons.

Allan Freyer, director of the NC Justice Center’s Workers’ Rights Project, says while the 1993 law provided important protections for workers, improvements should be made.

According to Freyer,  Congress is currently debating the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act (H.R. 1439/S. 786) that could provide workers with family medical leave insurance.  In exchange for a small premium of less than $5 a week, workers would receive a meaningful portion of their incomes for up to 12 weeks while they take time off to welcome a newborn or adopted child or provide care for family members suffering from serious health conditions.

Polling conducted in August by Public Policy Polling found 62 percent of North Carolinians surveyed support guaranteeing paid medical leave.

Click below to hear more from Freyer on the growing support for paid medical leave. To learn more about the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act, click here.

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Commentary, News

1. Controversial plan to allow for-profit charter school takeovers of low-performing NC schools re-emerges

Achievement school districts may be reporting mixed numbers in other states, but the controversial reform model—which could effectively turn over management of low-performing public schools, including hiring and firing powers, to for-profit charter operators—seems bound for a pilot program in North Carolina.

Republican education leaders in the North Carolina House’s Select Committee on Achievement School Districts met for the first time Wednesday, with plans to convene two more meetings in February and March before making a legislative recommendation.

[Continue Reading…]

2. The real test of McCrory’s commitment to helping the mentally ill

Governor Pat McCrory is garnering praise these days for the recommendations to improve mental health services being considered by a task force he created—and he deserves it. McCrory has spoken out passionately about the need for better support and treatment for people with a mental illness or addiction since he became governor in 2013.

But there’s an undercurrent to the work of the task force that McCrory appointed that is sadly familiar and threatens to undercut the progress on mental health that McCrory says publicly that North Carolina needs to make.

[Continue Reading…]

3. The Right’s disingenuous propaganda about “choice”

There’s one thing you’ve got to hand to the politicians, pundits and plutocrats driving the modern American conservative movement: They are genuine champs when it comes to “branding” and pasting smiley faces on policies designed to favor the wealthy, while dividing and excluding everyone else.

In area after area, conservative advocates take hoary ideas traceable to creaky and privileged European theorists of bygone centuries and gussy them up with labels like “rights,” “liberty,” “freedom” and “choice.”

[Continue Reading…]

4. McCrory makes a political decision to listen to a local government—for a change

It’s not very often that a governor issues a press release touting the benefits of a new economic development project his administration has negotiated and then two weeks later says the project is no longer viable, but that’s exactly what Gov. Pat McCrory has done.

The reversal on the proposed CSX railroad hub in Johnston County came after the county commissioners voted to oppose the project after local residents complained about plans by the company to use the power of eminent domain to force property owners to sell their land.

[Continue Reading…]

5. North Carolina now unprepared for next recession

When last week’s blizzard hit, North Carolinians got another reminder that tough times are easier to handle if you’re prepared. Those who stocked up on food and made sure they had a good snow shovel fared best.

It’s the same with the economy. The preparations, of course, are different. What a state needs to weather hard times can’t be bought in stores. We depend on our elected officials to make decisions in good times that will help us get through an economic storm. And the distressing reality is that actions they’ve taken in the past few years actually leave North Carolina more vulnerable – not less.

[Continue Reading…]
Commentary, News

Governor Pat McCrory and other state leaders continue to tout the Carolina Comeback, their name for the economic recovery in the state.

But the numbers tell a different story with workers earning less and many people in rural counties unable to find a job at all.

Economist Jared Bernstein, a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, was in Raleigh recently to talk about the state and national economy and how policymakers can help struggling families.

“You have to invest in the future. And investing in the future doesn’t just means creating a business climate that business like by cutting their taxes,” explained Bernstein. “Once you start whacking away at your tax base so that you can improve this idea of business climate in the near term, you really risk undermining the ability to drive future productivity in the long term.”

Bernstein joins us this weekend on NC Policy Watch’s News & Views with Chris Fitzsimon.

Click below to hear Bernstein explain why North Carolina’s politicians should spend less time talking about business climate rankings and spend more time focused on public investments.

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