New study: In Wake County, moms more likely to back diverse schools than dads

school-busespng-91b35e2c325e0b5bIt’s been roughly six years since a GOP takeover on the Wake County Board of Education prompted a massive overhaul of the district’s diversity assignment policy. And, as Policy Watch reported in March, the district has become racially segmented in the years since.

Now, a new N.C. State University study probes the public’s perception of diversity and neighborhood school assignments, finding mostly that, apparently, mothers put more thought into their children’s schooling than fathers, according to a News & Observer report Friday.

From the N&O:

Mothers are more likely than fathers to favor both school diversity and neighborhood schools, according to a new study on gender and school assignment conducted by N.C. State University.

The study also found that mothers are more likely to be concerned about challenges, danger and uncertainties of school assignments. And they were more fearful that a school reassignment would negatively affect their child’s learning or friendships.

“Mothers invest more emotional energy in children’s public school assignments and reassignments than fathers,” said Toby Parcel, professor of sociology at NCSU and lead researcher of the study. “We think that’s because they conceptualize this as part of their total responsibility of being good mothers and promoting their children’s well-being.”

For the study, researchers interviewed opinion leaders in Wake County, including current and former school board members and school activists, from 2010 to 2012. This group included individuals who favored diversity and those who favored neighborhood schools. The researchers also conducted two focus groups.

Survey participants were split nearly evenly between men and women. The researchers found that mothers favored diversity and neighborhood schools more than fathers, regardless of race, education, income or political affiliation.

Read more

Courts & the Law, News

Supreme Court schedules NC racial gerrymandering case

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday announced it would hear arguments in two racial gerrymandering cases, including McCrory v. Harris, on Dec. 5.

The other case is Bethune-Hill v. Virginia State Board of Elections, out of Virginia.

The North Carolina case deals specifically with districts 1 and 12 after a three-judge panel ruled in February that the North Carolina Congressional District map was drawn with racial bias.

In the Virginia case, the Supreme Court will decide whether the state’s Republican leaders gerrymandered electoral maps to decrease African American voting influence.

For more on cases the Supreme Court will hear this term, click here.

Commentary, News

This week’s Top Five on NC Policy Watch

Education cuts1. National report: K-12 funding cuts in North Carolina among the worst in the nation

A national report released today seems to confirm what many of the N.C. General Assembly’s harshest critics have long declared: K-12 education funding in North Carolina has fallen prodigiously since the economic recession of 2008, and has worsened even as the state’s economy begins to rebound.

The report, authored by a nonpartisan, D.C.-based research group, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, lists North Carolina among just eight states nationwide that have cut general funding per student by almost 10 percent or more since 2008.

From the report: [Continue reading…]

manning2. Judge Howard Manning steps away from landmark education case

Judge Howard Manning will no longer oversee Leandro v. State, the landmark education lawsuit that he has presided over for nearly 20 years.

Manning made a request to be removed from the case, and Chief Justice Mark Martin reassigned it on Oct. 7 to Emergency Superior Court Judge David Lee, according to Sharon Gladwell, communications director at the North Carolina Administrative Office of the Courts.

Melanie Dubis, who represents the plaintiffs in Leandro, and Mark Dorosin, an attorney working on the case for the UNC Center for Civil Rights, said Thursday that they had no knowledge of the development and therefore could not comment.[Continue reading…]

rudo-and-gerlach-13. Sworn testimony contradicts McCrory administration coal ash claims

Gov. Pat McCrory’s office — and possibly McCrory himself — did influence the wording on health risk evaluations that were sent to well owners, contrary to his assertions that he was not involved.

That’s according to two depositions obtained by NC Policy Watch: New testimony by state toxicologist Ken Rudo and another by Kendra Gerlach, communications director for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Rudo’s deposition was taken on Sept. 14 by lawyers for the Department of Environmental Quality and Duke Energy. Gerlach was deposed by the Southern Environmental Law Center on Sept. 20.

Gerlach testified that at the behest of McCrory’s communications office, DHHS inserted language into the forms that could have downplayed the health risk of hexavalent chromium. [Continue reading….] Read more


NC GOP worried about long lines, pantsuits, and Satan

ncgopThe folks at the N.C. Republican Party sent out a few interesting tweets this week, one of them from Communications Director Kami Mueller who was apparently worried about the long lines at some early voting sites on Thursday, the first day of early voting. She gave people a number to call for voting assistance.

That would be the same Republican Party that fought efforts to expand early voting, defended plans by local elections boards to open only one early voting site in their counties and last week even opposed the move to expand the voter registration deadline in counties affected by the flooding from Hurricane Matthew.

Now all of a sudden they are worried about long lines at the polls.

It wasn’t Mueller’s only tweet of note. She was busy on social media during this week’s presidential debate too, firing off all sorts of offensive tweets and retweets, several about the pantsuit that Hillary Clinton was wearing. Then there was this one about halfway through the debate.

At least they are staying classy over there at Republican Party headquarters.

And finally on the Kami Mueller front, she seems to think that evil is everywhere in North Carolina judging from her comments on a recent panel discussion in Raleigh held by The Sam James Institute.

The discussion was billed as a “Gospel and Politics Forum” and towards the end of the presentation Mueller recounted Gov. Pat McCrory’s recent meeting about HB2 with conservative pastors and Tony Perkins, the head of the far-right Family Research Council.

It’s troubling company for McCrory to keep. Perkins has a long history of homophobia. He  has blamed the legalization of same-sex marriage for the destruction caused by hurricanes—part of God’s wrath—and pushed the Republican Party to endorse gay “conversion therapy” in its platform.

Muller was sharing the details of McCrory’s meeting with the audience and lamenting that people have told McCrory they support his defense of HB2 but were afraid to make that support public.

That, Mueller said, was evidence that “Satan is using means to bully and shame us as believers into not standing up for what is right.”

News, Voting

First day of early voting not as strong as 2012 election, but not ‘apples-to-apples’ for comparison

Early voting in North Carolina this year is off to a slower start than in 2012, according to preliminary statistics. There were 162,382 ballots cast and accepted this year compared to 167,497 in 2012.

Dr. Michael Bitzer, Catawba College political scientist, posted an analysis of the first day of in-person early voting, noting that this year’s numbers were not a “pure apples-to-apples” comparison due to changes in county hours and locations from 2012.

The party registration for this year’s first day of in-person early voting was 53 percent registered Democrat, 24 percent registered Republican, 23 percent registered unaffiliated, and less than one percent registered Libertarian.

The total number of in-person early ballots is down 3 percent from the same day in 2012, while those from registered Democrats are down 11 percent, from registered Republicans down 7 percent, but up among registered unaffiliated voters by 28 percent.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections was not immediately available to provide a breakdown of early voting totals by county.


Graph by Dr. Michael Bitzer