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With less than a week remaining in the election season, the director of the UNC Center on Poverty, Work & Opportunity notes that what’s missing from the political discourse is an honest discussion about North Carolina’s growing poverty rate.

Gene Nichol writes in an op-ed in Thursday’s News & Observer:

‘Walter Dalton and Pat McCrory have proposed much, discussed much, fought much – but not about plans to lift Tar Heels out of poverty.

Melinda Lawrence of the N.C. Justice Center, Dr. William Barber of the N.C.-NAACP and I have written to the candidates, invited them to meetings with folks struggling under economic duress, asked them to attend summits exploring the challenges of poverty and even implored debate moderators to press the issue. No dice.

Let me give just a couple of examples of what this stony silence means:

•  Eleven years ago, North Carolina had the 26th-highest poverty rate in the U.S. Last year, we were 13th. We are frantic about our competitive posture in relation to other states on an endless array of fronts. Why are we seemingly unconcerned that we rapidly and dramatically lose ground, compared to our colleagues, in effective efforts to fight poverty?

•  Forty percent of our children of color – African-American, Latino and Native American – now live in wrenching poverty. Think that over for a second. No other advanced, economically powerful, Western democracy would put up with anything like that. Why do we? And, regardless of what one thinks the best solution to this crushing challenge may be, what explains the failure to even name it as a problem? Read More