Elon Poll: Arming teachers opposed by…teachers

Last month state lawmakers said they would explore arming teachers in the wake of the most recent mass school shooting in Florida.

The most recent Elon University Poll asked teachers in the state their opinion. The majority say they are against it, believing it could further endanger students and harm the learning environment.

Sixty-one percent of those polled said they would feel less safe with armed teachers. Seventy-four percent said they would not carry a gun in their class were they allowed.


The poll, which surveyed 379 N.C. public school teachers, was taken Feb. 28 through March 5. Respondents were contacted by contacted by email and through live-caller, dual-frame (landline and mobile phone) survey techniques.

The results have a margin of error of +/- 5.03 percent (questions asked of all 379 email and telephone respondents) and +/- 6.6 percent (questions asked only to the 227 email respondents).

Read the full report – including crosstabs and methodology, as well as other safety and gun policy questions, here.

“The people who would be most responsible for implementing any policy about arming teachers are the teachers themselves,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon Poll and assistant professor of political science, in a press statement. “Hearing the voices of teachers on this issue is essential. As a result, we went to great effort to make sure our survey is representative of the diversity of teachers in North Carolina. We wanted to know not only if they think arming teachers is a good or bad idea, but also why they have the opinions they do.”


Elon poll tests state political knowledge – and finds it wanting

If knowledge is power, North Carolinians may notice the lights flickering – at least when it comes to state politics.

In a new Elon University poll  82 percent of respondents could identify Roy Cooper at the state’s governor but only 11 percent could correctly identify N.C. State Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and just eight percent could identify N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore.

Nearly half of respondents could name N.C. Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, whose name and photograph hang in elevators across the state. The survey accepted Berry’s nicknames of “Elevator Lady” and “Elevator Queen” as correct answers as well.

About 86 percent of respondents were able to correctly identify the Republican Party as holding a majority in the General Assembly.

While 46 percent of respondents could name their county’s sheriff, only 22 percent could name their state representative and 17 percent their state senator.

Respondents did much better on questions of who represents them in Washington, with 62 percent able to identify U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, 56 percent able to identify U.S. Senator Thom Tillis and 48 percent able to identify their U.S. House representative.

“Being able to identify the names of our local officials is a very basic, yet essential step for an individual to be civically engaged,” said Jason Husser, director of the Elon University Poll and assistant professor of political science, in a release on the poll results.

“Perhaps a sign of the times, most North Carolina voters are much better informed about their leaders in Washington than their leaders in Raleigh,” Husser said. “Importantly, the biggest state policy changes that could result from this year’s election cycle depend on the number of General Assembly seats held by one party or the other. While reassuring that most voters know which party controls the two chambers of the General Assembly, the vast majority are unable to identify the names of their local state legislators and the state’s most important legislative leaders.”

Husser said that while the results aren’t exactly encouraging, they are in line with the trend of people across the country having less knowledge about local and state politics than national politics.

Asked about the congressional redistricting process, almost half — 47 percent — said it is “not fair at all,” compared to 10 percent who said it was “mostly” fair and 15 percent who said it was “somewhat fair.” Another 27 percent said they didn’t know.

While 46 percent of respondents knew the General Assembly is in charge of the redistricting process, only 25 percent knew that the redistricting process takes place every 10 years after the U.S. Census. Only 15 percent of voters were able to answer both questions correctly.

“Who does redistricting? When does it typically happen? Knowing the answers to these two questions seems to me as the basic prerequisite for meaningful conversation about the complex topic,” Husser said in his statement. “However, less than one of every six registered voters could answer both questions correctly. This suggests that the North Carolina public still needs more time before any public consensus emerges in a state that has become central to the national debate about gerrymandering.”

Find the full poll, including  info on methodology, here.


Rumors of white supremacist rally spurs concerns, preparations at UNC

UNC students will rally this afternoon to oppose a rumored white nationalist demonstration on campus.

The rally, at 2 p.m. outside the South Building administration offices, comes in reaction to an email received by a faculty member who who says he was confronted and threatened by alt-right activists outside his office last week.

According to an email sent by Dwayne Dixon, a teaching assistant professor in the Asian Studies department, a pair of men chased him down an academic building hallway last week, trying to provoke him into violence while videotaping him.

“They were video recording me with a phone the whole time and were clearly trying to provoke a reaction they could use to smear me as a ‘violent antifa,’” Dixon wrote.

Dixon wrote that one of the men was Noel Fritsch, a conservative campaign consultant.

Fritsch, a self-described “unsolicited accountability partner to elected officials” and “political lackey”  tweeted that he was assaulted by Dixon on Feb. 7.

Dixon reported the incident to the UNC Police, who have been investigating since. Read more


Charges dropped against Durham protesters in Confederate statue incident

Durham District Attorney Roger Echols dropped the remaining charges against protesters accused of helping to topple a Confederate statue last summer.

The move came a day after District Court Judge Frederick S. Battaglia Jr. threw out charges against two other suspects and a third was found not guilty.

Echols, who previously signaled he would take into account the political atmosphere and circumstances when bringing charges, said he believed misdemeanor charges were appropriate.

Durham District Attorney Roger Echols

“Acts of vandalism, regardless of noble intent, are still violations of law,” Echols said in a statement Tuesday.

But the evidence for the remaining five suspects was much the same as that against those whose charges were dismissed on Monday, Echols said.

“For my office to continue to take these cases to trial based on the same evidence would be a misuse of state resources,” Echols said.

Whitley Carpenter helped represent the defendants as part of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice’s Criminal Justice litigation team. She applauded Echols’ decision Tuesday.

“The statue that was torn down was a symbol of white supremacy that has no place in front of the public buildings that represent our community,” Carpenter said in a statement.  “We applaud the District Attorney for finally dropping the charges in this case.  It’s time for us to recognize that these symbols of hate create division within our communities.  We need to make monuments to the ill-conceived project of white supremacy a thing of the past.”


NC Harm Reduction Coalition gets $1 million grant to battle opioid epidemic

The work of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition was given a boost this week when the group received a $1 million grant Tuesday from health care provider Aetna.

From the Spectrum News story on the grant:


Healthcare provider, Aetna, presented a $1 million grant to the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, a group dedicated to battling the opioid epidemic in the state. The money will go towards staffing their Rural Opioid Prevention Program, which provides education and anti-overdose drug naloxone in Cumberland, Johnston, Vance, Brunswick, and Haywood counties.

“With the rise of fentanyl, especially in the eastern part of the state, every second counts,” said NC Harm Reduction Coalition director Robert Childs. “We’re trying to load these communities up with access to naloxone so they can reverse the drug overdose sight unseen, and that way less people have to die.”

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein was in attendance for the grant presentation. He says it’s important that rural counties aren’t overlooked in the opioid epidemic.

“Rural counties tend to be disproportionately affected by this crisis,” said Stein. “There are more pills in circulation in a lot of rural counties. The rate of death is greater in rural counties. I think developing strategies that target rural counties and support the groups that are trying to help save lives is really important.”

Regular Policy Watch readers may remember our interview with Robert Childs,  executive director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition.

Last month the group reversed its 10,000th overdose through Naloxone distribution.