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40% decline in teaching majors will lead to teacher shortage

Did you know it's National Teacher Appreciation Week?

WBTV in Charlotte highlights a new report on universities in the state that are seeing a decline in education majors by 20-40%, putting education departments at universities in jeopardy. UNCC, seeing a decline in interest among young people in an education major, are aiming their classes towards people who might be interested in the field as a second career.

Charlotte's historically Black college, Johnson C. Smith University, is closing its Department of Education next year.

The report states the reason. "The findings revealed low numbers of students entering the University with an interest in majoring in education. The findings indicated clearly that the department was no longer financially viable."

Anti-Gay GOP State Senate candidate is former drag performer and promoter

Raw Story and the W-S Journal have the scoop on Steve Wiles, a candidate in the primary for the the Republican nomination for State Senate District 31.

Turns out that Wiles was drag queen "Mona Sinclair" at the now closed gay nightclub, Club Odyssey, in the 1990s.

Wiles has alternately denied and admitted his gay-connected past during his campaign. He's also a staunch supporter of NC's Amendment One.

NC last in minority health; AMA calls for Medicaid expansion

The independent non-partisan Commonwealth Fund is out with a new report on health-care and North Carolina is ranked last in the country in minority health care.

NC ranked 36 out of 51 states overall, but ranked last with minority health among all states in the nation. We also have some of the most expensive employer health insurance in the country, with premiums 13 percent higher than the national average.

Harris possibly violating campaign laws by taking church donations

Raw Story is out with the news, via WRAL, that long-shot Republican Senate candidate Mark Harris may be violating campaign laws by using "love offerings", given to him in his role as a pastor, for his campaign.

Considering how Harris wants to tear down the wall between church and state and turn the country into a kind of Taliban-controlled religious state fantasy, this shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone.

Personally, I don't think Harris is a serious candidate - I think he's pulling a Sarah Palin, using the campaign to secure his position as a well-paid guest speaker for various churches and all-around curmudgeonly public personality.

Duke Energy and Bank of America shareholder meetings getting police scrutiny

The Charlotte Observer reported yesterday that the upcoming shareholder meetings of Duke Energy and the Bank of America have been declared "extraordinary events" by the city. The Duke Energy shareholder meeting is on Thursday; the BoA meeting is on May 7th.

The designation was made because of anticipated protests; it will give police more powers to search individuals attending the event or in areas in the streets around the meetings.

WRAL: Republican Senate candidates don't back net neutrality

At WRAL's @NCCapitol column online today, the lack of support for net neutrality rules expressed by all four Republican Senate candidates is highlighted. Greg Too-Much-Coffee Brannon says it's not in the Constitution, while the rest see it as a government intrusion on private business.

Astute BlueNC readers will realize that WRAL, as a local tv station, already benefits from a basic FCC regulation - because of the limited bandwidth for tv channels on cable systems, they are required to carry signals from all local stations in their market to create a fair playing field for all broadcasters with cable customers.

If the same type of rules aren't applied to Internet service providers - and many are cable companies - local stations wouldn't be offered the same bandwidth as national media outlets to offer local streamed programming through their web outlets.

United Church of Christ sues NC over Amendment One

The United Church of Christ is suing the state of NC over Amendment One, saying it violates the First Amendment protection of freedom of religion. The suit was filed in Federal court in Charlotte; the church says it is the first by a national religious body to challenge a gay marriage ban on freedom of religion grounds.

Dueling lawsuits in Republican primary for 6th District Congressional seat

The Greensboro News and Record reports that candidates Bruce VonCannon and Phil Berger, Jr. are squaring off in court with dueling lawsuits over a campaign for Berger paid for by SuperPAC Conservatives United. VonCannon is suing for libel over the ad; Burger is countersuing over a VonCannon ad.

Carter Wrenn, VonCannon’s campaign strategist, said the PAC made false claims in its recent TV ad, calling VonCannon “an international banker for the Chinese,” and refused to stop running the ad even after being told about its factual errors.

The ad says VonCannon’s “private Swiss banking group partnered with Chinese trusts that owned stakes in Chinese textiles — all competitors that took our jobs.”

Western NC losing doctors; Republicans cut funds for rural health

Carolina Public Press has a feature story on the decline in the number of doctors in rural counties in Western North Carolina. In these areas, we've lost 9% between 2010 and 2014.

The loss follows a national trend - the loss of doctors and specialists in rural areas has been an ongoing problem with doctors choosing to practice in larger population centers.

It impacts not only residents of Western NC counties, but those outside the area as well. As my family has taken care of aging parents that live in the area, we've had to rearrange our schedules and take time off from work to drive family members to specialists outside the county. Local hospitals have also cut back on services because of a lack of doctors, with emergency cases that could have been taken care of in the county before being sent to hospitals in Winston-Salem.

NC voters more tolerant of gays

QNotes reports on a new poll released by Public Policy Polling of North Carolinians. While a (smaller) majority of state residents are still against gay marriage (53% versus 40%), a majority, even among Republicans, supports some kind of legal recognition of gay partnerships.

There is increasingly little division among voters in the state about whether gay couples should at least have some sort of legal rights in the form of civil unions. Sixty-two percent support either marriage or civil unions for same sex couples to only 34 percent who think they should have no legal recognition at all. Sixty-eight percent of both Democrats and independents support at least civil unions, and even Republicans narrowly do by a 50/48 spread.”

Young voters in the state support gay marriage by a 62-34 percent margin.

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