scharrison's blog

Friday with Ferrel: Education isn't enough

We need to widen the discussion if we want better results:

“Charlotte, Raleigh-Durham, and Wilmington are also expected to be the only three regions with more than half of the new jobs earning $30,000 or more in annual median wages,” say the Commerce analysts. “For remaining regions, most of the new jobs are expected to be at the lower end of the pay scale (less than $30,000).”

I'm jumping around a little bit here, but a good (long) look at economics in the overall child development picture is long overdue. That new jobs prediction above is pretty bleak, but it looks even worse when you consider a substantial number of those jobs will place families directly into the Medicaid coverage gap. In other words, despite all the cheerleading coming from Republicans and their consultants, things are getting much worse for those in the lower-middle. And that has a direct and profound impact on student performance:

Culture of Racism: Beaufort County Sheriff's Department

Welcome back to the 1950's:

According to the lawsuit, Franks, who served in the U.S. Army for four years, began working for the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office in July 2015. Beaufort County is on the North Carolina coast, about 120 miles (193 kilometers) east of Raleigh. In November 2016, Franks said he was in a "deputy room" when Ragland pointed his loaded service weapon at his head for approximately 15 seconds and said "What's up (N-word)?"

Every time Ragland pointed his weapon at Franks, the lawsuit said, Ragland used the racial slur. Also, Ragland often referred to Franks as "monkey boy" and described his hair as "rhino lining" because of its color and texture.

And in case you're wondering if this is a he said/he said incident, another deputy got in trouble for reporting the harassment:

Coal Ash Wednesday: Cap-in-place is the industry's new Plan A

Just when Illinois thought it was making progress:

The approved version of the Illinois bill had broad support from environmental advocates, even though some of the provisions they sought had been softened. Introduced in January by state Sen. Scott Bennett, the original version would have required the full removal of coal ash from storage pits and would have limited the repurposing of coal ash for uses like creating cement and concrete. After resistance from Dynegy, a Texas-based electric utility and subsidiary of Vistra Energy, as well as from the Illinois Farm Bureau and local waste management association, the legislation was modified.

In the final version, coal plant owners have the option to cover the ash pits with soil and leave the waste where it is, known as "cap in place." Operators would first have to conduct an environmental review to show the method would be equally protective as removing the coal ash.

There is really only one legitimate result of that review: In the absence of a bottom liner, there is no "equal protection." The only potential locations where cap-in-place might be comparable to a lined pit are those with densely-packed clay. North Carolina has a few locations that might work, but (unless I'm mistaken) none of our current coal ash impoundments meet that criteria. And Illinois is even worse, thanks to glaciation that gave that state some of the best soil in the world. In other words, an across-the-board approval of cap-in-place with no consideration of geologic strata is just bad policy. And of course Trump's EPA is making this issue even worse:

Commission to study reparations for Slavery on the move in U.S. House

And it's a long time coming:

With the support of a string of 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, the idea of reparations for African-Americans is gaining traction among Democrats on Capitol Hill, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi backs the establishment of a commission that would develop proposals and a “national apology” to repair the lingering effects of slavery.

Nearly 60 House Democrats, including Representative Jerrold Nadler, the powerful chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, support legislation to create the commission, which has been stalled in the House for 30 years.

I read the bill last night and noticed a couple of depressing aspects, which combined together severely undercuts the potential of this Commission. First, they're only budgeting $12 million for its entire operation, which would barely scratch the surface of what needs to be researched. And then there's the timeline. One year to make their report to Congress, and then the Commission will be dissolved shortly after. And considering the Commission will also be studying the years that followed the end of slavery (critically important), that budget low-ball is even worse:

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The stench of desperation:

Well of course they looked at the files, how else were they supposed to determine if they were relevant to the case? As far as classifying them as "secret," you can't have your cake and eat it, too. You can't claim you did all the work yourselves on Legislative computers, but then claim the files contain "sensitive" information.

The State of Rape: Lack of funding and delay tactics plague victims

rapeculture.jpg

A system that seems to favor the predators:

“Cases don’t get better with time; they often get worse,” Pearce said. “If they can delay it and let it go on for longer, it’s less likely the evidence will be fresh. You are hoping the victim will grow tired of it.” With every delay in their case, victims can get discouraged. People move. Memories fade.

“(These crimes) are done in the dark, they are done in secret and done in private,” Pearce said. “Oftentimes that victim is the only primary witness.”

Keep in mind, in most of these cases, the accused rapist is out on bond pending the trial. In other words, free to assault other women, and free to harass their accuser. And of course there are "friends" of the accused who are out there harassing the victim, in an effort to get her to drop the charges. She might as well be in prison (or house arrest) herself, which often leads to the "People move" observation above. It's a shameful and untenable situation, and lawmakers who set budgets need to be called to task:

If you're reading a Nicholas Sparks novel, you might want to burn it

That message in a bottle is likely to be tainted with hate:

Sparks reportedly wrote in a November 2013 email that “we’ve spent way, way too much time … talking about ‘tolerance, diversity, non-discrimination, and LGBT’ in these first twelve weeks.” Benjamin also claims in the lawsuit that Sparks told him “black students are too poor and can’t do the academic work” asked of the school’s students, A separate November 2013 email from Sparks obtained by The Daily Beast appears to support that claim, with the writer saying the school’s lack of diversity “has nothing to do with racism” but rather “money” and “culture.”

According to Benjamin’s 2014 complaint, Sparks supported a group of students who bullied the school’s LGBTQ students. The former headmaster also alleged that Sparks referred to a school club for LGBTQ students as “the Gay Club” and that two bisexual instructors were threatened with termination when they came forward to support the LGBTQ students.

It's been years, but I've read several of his books, and moderately enjoyed them. Had I known at the time that the money I spent on said books would partially fund such a school, I would have been furious. It's direct connections like this that demonstrate how important it is to be aware of what and who you are funding with your commerce. The days of not caring are over.

Environmental Injustice: Black children get new school next to Superfund sites

As usual, Lisa Sorg is right on top of the situation:

What a contrast it would be to the current Aberdeen Elementary and Primary schools. Built in the 1940s, when Aberdeen was formally segregated, the schools are cramped, dilapidated and threadbare. They remind teachers, staff and students – most of whom are from communities of color – of enduring inequality. But this land and this school would be different. Better yet, the property was cheap: $9,000 an acre. It was the first and only offer school district administrators considered.

The land was cheap for a reason. It is sandwiched between two Superfund sites where pesticides were dumped for 50 years. It is located next to an industrial area and within a mile of 10 air pollution sources.

The more infuriating part of this is the fact that everybody involved in this decision knew damn well this plot of land was bad news. You'd be hard-pressed to find so many hazardous sites gathered together so densely anywhere else, and if you'll take a glance at that image above, the school is going just above that big red-orange blurp that signifies groundwater tainted with (among other things) TCE. But when it comes to local politics, once the fix is in, it's damned near impossible to convince people to step back:

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