STOP THE LEGISLATURE'S POLICIES THAT MAKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS MORE SEGREGATED: From the 1970s through the first decade of this new century, North Carolina worked to end school segregation. In the process the state boosted funding for public education, increased teacher pay and improved student performance and graduation rates. But, as a series of recent studies reveal, that progress has been eroded over the last decade. The state’s financial support for public schools is being diminished. The number of public charter schools has been greatly increased. And a private school voucher program that lacks accountability, and in fact publically funds discrimination, is growing yearly. As a result, our public schools are becoming more segregated.
THE RURAL-URBAN DIVIDE IN NORTH CAROLINA DEEPENS: A 2015 national study found Goldsboro to be the fifth-poorest city in America. Over 25 percent of Goldsboro residents live in poverty. Forty percent of all kids are poor, over half of African-American children. In some census tracts we studied, 65 percent of kids were impoverished. And Goldsboro has nearly the worst racially-driven, concentrated poverty in North Carolina. Wilkes County shares much of this record of hardship, though it wasn’t always so. Median income dropped by nearly 30 percent over 15 years. In the late 1990s, the unemployment rate was a remarkable 2 percent. A decade later it had soared to over 13 percent. Half of all Wilkes households now make under $30,000. A quarter of its 69,000 residents live in poverty, a third of all children. There are, today, 5,000 fewer private-sector jobs than existed in 1995. Twice as many folks live in mobile homes as the state average. Disability, overdose and addiction rates are high. Almost 90 percent of the county population is white.
CENSUS' LAST MINUTE QUESTION ON CITIZENSHIP JEOPARDIZES ACCURATE COUNT: Nearly 800,000 immigrants were living in North Carolina in 2016, representing 8 percent of the total population, with high concentrations in both urban and rural communities. Higher non-response and a greater undercount of the immigrant population could exacerbate the undercount of children in North Carolina in 2020. Between 2000 and 2016, our state had the fourth largest numeric increase in children born to immigrant parents. Today, one in six North Carolina children—365,000—are U.S.-born citizens who live in a household with at least one immigrant parent. If these children become harder to count, the state could receive fewer funds for critical programs that help to ensure healthy growth and development for all children, such as Head Start and the School Lunch Program.
IN TRUMP'S KAKISTOCRACY, ABSTINENCE AND THE RHYTHM METHOD REPLACE SCIENCE AND BIRTH CONTROL PILLS: The Department of Health and Human Services recently announced it will give preference when allocating grant money to agencies that endorse “natural family planning” and abstinence instead of those that prescribe birth control pills and screen for sexually transmitted diseases. Why would an agency named after “health” and “human services” want to penalize women seeking reliable birth control? At stake is $260 million in Title X grant money, so, yes, this is a huge deal. Turns out the shiny new administrator of the purse strings is the former head of a national abstinence education program so we shouldn’t be surprised at this turn of events. The notion of slashing funding to agencies that provide birth control, STD diagnosis and treatment and — here’s a big one — early detection cancer screenings for a population that otherwise would be unable to afford any of those services is reckless and cruel.
U.S. LACKS THE WILL TO STOP TRAGEDY OF SCHOOL SHOOTINGS: In that, Helsel’s bucket of rocks is like the proposal to arm teachers and former Sen. Rick Santorum’s dumb suggestion that the best way to respond to mass shootings is to teach kids CPR. None of these strategies, please note, seeks to prevent massacres. Rather, each implicitly asks us to accept that they are inevitable and unstoppable, like natural disasters. After all, you wouldn’t pass a law against tornadoes or earthquakes, and some gun rights advocates would have us believe it makes just as little sense to try to keep mass shootings from occurring. They ask us to accept the unacceptable as a given. The problem is, a mass shooting is not a natural disaster, but a human one. Thus, it can be legislated against. Nor is the fact that a law will not be 100 percent effective a sensible reason not to pass it. No law is 100 percent effective. Shall we repeal prohibitions against murder or child molestation because those crimes still occur? As Canada proves daily, it’s entirely possible to balance gun rights with common-sense restrictions that save lives. Comprehensive background checks and a ban on private ownership of high-capacity magazines and semiautomatic weapons would be good places to start. What we lack is not a way to stop tragedies, but a will.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
J.B. VAN KRETSCHMAR, PHD: SUPPORT CARBON FEE: Regarding “AP Interview: UN food agency boss warns of migrant crisis” (Mar. 26): the reported radicalization of hungry people desperate to feed their families is one consequence of the localized disruption of agriculture by climate change. The U.S. Department of Defense 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap identified climate change as an economic and social stressor that would “accelerate conflict and instability detrimental to U.S. interests.” Climate change is a destabilizer that needs to be addressed as a growing threat to U.S. security. The solution is Carbon Fee and Dividend. CF&D is a non-revenue-generating policy proposal that can stimulate the market to develop domestically-produced, jobs-creating alternatives to fossil fuels that are the primary cause of climate change. CF&D is a policy that our state’s U.S. senators, Richard Burr and Thom Tillis, as well as our representatives, should support to protect our long-term and widespread national security interests.
BEN ANSBACHER: COUNTY DOESN'T NEED MORE 287(G): I am writing this open letter because renewal of the 287(g) has become a topic of discussion in Alamance County. I was not involved in bringing about the recent lawsuit by the Department of Justice. I know Sheriff Johnson. I talk with him from time to time when I feel I have ideas that could be useful. I believe there is a problem in our Latino community. It is not a lack immigration enforcement. It is a fear of driving/riding in a car or answering a knock at the door, because those actions could lead to the loss of a child, mother, or father. Or the fear that this could happen to a neighbor. 287(g) can only make that worse. Sheriff Johnson has said that he has no desire to molest hard-working, law-abiding Latino residents; that they have no reason to be afraid. That message is not getting out.
EVELYN BARRETT: SPELLINGS' BONUS MONEY COULD HAVE HELPED REDUCE STUDENT FEE HIKE: As a 1989 graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, School of Social Work, there have been many events in recent years that caused me to feel the need to deny that relationship. But this most recent event makes me feel I must respond publicly. Why oh why would our esteemed UNC President need, or even deserve, a yearly bonus of $90,000-$95,000? And twice in two years, no less. How far this could have gone to reduce the increase in new “fees” to the students. I doubt that it makes much difference to the students’ budgets whether the increase is considered a fee or a tuition. It still wrecks the budget. Board member Tom Fetzer stated it well when he said, “...At a base salary of $775,000, I think the tax-paying citizens of North Carolina ought to be able to expect excellence in performance without having to add on a hundred grand a year.” When I attended the university still had tuition and fees that, for in-state students, were quite manageable and reasonable. But yearly these costs have increased until it looks as if this advanced level education is only for the elite – and that is a shame.