NC Budget and Tax Center, Poverty and Policy Matters

This is the fourth post in a series that takes a detailed look at the 2013 US Census Bureau poverty data released on September 18th. The first post looked at how North Carolina is faring overall. The second post looked at how poverty varies by race, and the third post compared poverty by counties in North Carolina. 

Children face the highest poverty rate in North Carolina compared to other age groups according to data released last week by the US Census Bureau. After more than five years into an economic recovery, one in four children (25.2%) in North Carolina remained in poverty in 2013 –unchanged from 2012 and higher than the national child poverty rate (22%). At a time when we are experiencing an economic recovery, it is troubling that our state’s child poverty rate is not declining and remains significantly higher than the national average.

The numbers become even more meaningful when considering the disadvantages children in poverty face: less access to early education programs and high quality schools, food insecurity, higher stress levels and higher dropout rates, among other risk factors. Recent findings in brain development research also warn of the impact of toxic stress associated with poverty on a young child’s developing brain. Toxic stress can weaken the architecture of a child’s brain, creating long-term challenges that make it hard for one to be economically secure as an adult. Other numbers are rising for children across the nation and in North Carolina that we certainly don’t want to see on the rise. Infant mortality and child mortality has increased in North Carolina. There has also been a rise in the number of homeless school children, according to recently released national data. Both are indicators of poverty’s tight grasp on America’s and North Carolina’s children.

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Commentary

JudiciarySeats are going fast for a special Crucial Conversation luncheon next Tuesday, September 30

Dirty money, dirty water: The end of judicial campaign public financing in North Carolina with Billy Corriher of the Center for American Progress and Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies

When: Tuesday, September 30, at noon — Box lunches will be available at 11:45 a.m.

Where: Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. (At the corner of Hillsborough and St. Mary’s streets)

Space is limited – pre-registration required.

Cost: $10, admission includes a box lunch.

Click here to register Read More

News

There have been plenty of polls in the news lately, and here’s one that really caught our attention:

A High Point University/News & Record Poll released Monday found that 58 percent of likely North Carolina voters believe the raises that teachers received from state lawmakers this year are too small.

Fewer than one-third (29%) said the raises were of an appropriate size; six-percent said the raises were too big. Read more about the findings here.

NC Policy Watch education reporter Lindsay Wagner has an excellent rundown of the first meeting of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission.

And if you have wondered just how hard it may be to replace North Carolina’s Common Core Standards with something new, check out this video with commission co-chair Andre Peek. Peek suggests that even before they can get down to the bulk of their work, they first need to settle on what is meant by the word ‘standards':

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Finally, the Washington Post’s Wonkblog has a great story on new research that found ‘even when people have access to the same kind of care, educational achievement still played a huge role in whether people are in good health.’

Here’s more from Jason Millman’s piece:

There’s a number of factors at play here. People with more education have lower disease risk factors, such as smoking and obesity; better education means better jobs with higher earnings and health insurance; and it means better access to healthy food and other services enabling healthier lifestyles. Past research shows that white men and women with 16 or more years of education have a life expectancy about at least 10 years longer than those who didn’t graduate high school.

Learn more about that research here.

NC Budget and Tax Center

This is the third post in a series that takes a detailed look at the 2013 US Census Bureau poverty data released on September 18. The first post looked at how North Carolina is faring overall, and the second post looked at how poverty varies by race.  

North Carolina is enduring a painfully slow economic recovery. There are too few jobs open for all of the people looking for work, and the majority of the new jobs available pay wages so low that families can’t make ends meet. The ongoing economic hardship is evidenced in new data released last week by the Census Bureau. Statewide, the poverty rate held steady at 17.9 percent in 2013, with more than 1.7 million North Carolinians living on incomes below the federal poverty level. That’s about $24,000 annually for a family of four—certainly not enough to pay all the bills, much less get ahead.

However, just looking at statewide averages can mask the concentrations of hardship in particular geographic communities. A large and growing body of research shows that where one lives can determine if one has access to the educational and employment networks that can pave a pathway to the middle class. Because place is deeply connected to the opportunity structure, it important to analyze county-level (as well as neighborhood-level) variances in poverty.

Of the 40 counties in North Carolina for which 2013 data is available, 15 are urban and 25 are rural (based on population size).* Nine of the ten counties with the highest poverty rates were rural counties, which continue to face job loss and struggle with the consequences of the exodus of manufacturing jobs. The highest county-level poverty rate was in Robeson County, where nearly 1 in 3 residents lived in poverty. In fact, Robeson County consistently ranks as the poorest county in the state and as one of the poorest in the nation. Read More

News

At yesterday’s first meeting of the North Carolina Academic Standards Review Commission, which is tasked with reviewing the Common Core State Standards and suggesting modifications or replacements to those guidelines in English language arts and math, newly-elected co-chair Jeannie Metcalf didn’t make known her position on whether the standards should stay or go — but her Facebook page indicates she opposes them.

Metcalf, a Winston-Salem/Forsyth school board member, confirmed on Tuesday that she administers the Facebook page RE-elect Jeannie Metcalf for School Board. Her page is peppered with links from noted tea partier and anti-Common Core activist Glenn Beck, N.C. Lieutenant Governor and Common Core opponent Dan Forest, and other stories that portray Common Core in a negative light.

Back in May, Metcalf declared herself an opponent of Common Core, citing a California story about how teachers in the Rialto school district came up with a writing assignment that asked students to write a persuasive essay about whether or not the Holocaust actually happened. The assignment was meant to satisfy a Common Core standard for critical thinking; however, there is nothing in the Common Core standards that invites this particular assignment, according to Washington Post journalist Valerie Strauss.Capture

Jeannie Metcalf (click here to read more about her) will co-chair the Academic Standards Review Commission with pro-Common Core IBM executive Andre Peek. The next meeting of the review commission should be held sometime in October.

UPDATE: Metcalf emailed N.C. Policy Watch on Tuesday to say she does oppose Common Core.
“I will say I am much more concerned that the math standards be revamped. The ELA standards have some good points,” said Metcalf. “My co chair is chairman of the NC Business Committee for Education, which is solidly behind common core so I thinks it’s good to have different perspectives moving forward,” Metcalf added.