Original Commentary

Original Commentary

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Progressive Voices

High school is not enough: NC economy desperately needs a boost in adult education and training

In 2016, the defining political debate in North Carolina is over what it really takes to grow an economy that works for everyone—an economy that creates enough jobs for everyone who wants one and ensures that those jobs pay enough to make ends meet and achieve middle class prosperity. Amidst the hullaballoo over taxes, trade and HB2 in this election season, it’s easy to overlook one of the most powerful avenues policymakers can take to build this kind of economy—growing the number of workers with post-high school education.

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Featured Articles Progressive Voices

Grim anniversary marks 40 years of denying reproductive health care to poor American women

Whether or not some of us are uncomfortable with the word or the current statistic, nearly 1 in 3 American women have an abortion in their lifetime, making the procedure a common secret in the lives of women across this country. Depending on one’s viewpoint, the actual incidence may be more or less common than you believe. What is common is that many people think they don’t know anyone who has had an abortion.

It’s likely we do, but this medical procedure has been so stigmatized and politicized that the people we do know don’t talk about their experience. One reason for this stigma is that abortion is the only medical procedure that is banned from most public insurance funding.

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Featured Articles Fitzsimon File

McCrory, under siege, continues to lash out against critics of HB2

When it comes to HB2, the disastrous anti-LGBT legislation that he signed into law, Gov. Pat McCrory can’t seem to help himself.

Virtually every prominent individual or institution that criticizes HB2 in any way can count on a bitter and over the top attack from the governor and his top surrogates with many of their claims consisting of wild exaggerations and outright falsehoods.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

Attacking the messenger for delivering some hard truths

The Right launches another barrage of scurrilous attacks on the NAACP’s Rev. William Barber

As was discussed in this space a couple of years back when the Moral Mondays movement was center stage, there are few things that the political right in North Carolina loves more than bashing the Rev. William Barber. No matter what Barber actually says or how eloquent and insightful he is or how many personal sacrifices he makes or how many near-24 hour days he puts in in service of the causes of peaceful change and human rights, you can rest assured that uninformed blowhards will employ every tool in the character assassination toolbox to smear him and cue all of the worst racist dog whistles.

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Featured Articles Fitzsimon File

Monday numbers

153---number of public schools that received a grade of A or A+ng on the A-F grading system for the 2015-2016 school year (“2015–16 Performance and Growth of North Carolina Public Schools,” N.C. Department of Public Instruction, September 1, 2016)

6.6--- percentage of public schools that received a grade of A or A+ng on the A-F grading system for the 2015-2016 school year (Ibid)

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Featured Articles Fitzsimon File

The Follies

Pittenger’s failed attempt to walk back his offensive remarks

Congressman Robert Pittenger is trying as hard as he can to apologize for his shocking comments to the BBC this week---but it’s not working.

Pittenger was asked in an interview what grievance the folks protesting the fatal police shooting of Keith Scott in Charlotte have and he responded this way:

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Featured Articles Progressive Voices

Living while waiting to die: Writings from inside death row

Meet Paul Brown, a man living while waiting to die. He has been on North Carolina’s death row since 2000, awaiting an execution that may never come. He makes no excuses for his crime, and he doesn’t lament his punishment. He began writing a few years ago simply to answer the question: How do I make something of the life I have left?

His essays offer a rare window into death row, one of the most isolated places on earth. His stories offer no simple conclusions; they are the record of a complicated and broken life. Yet, they speak poignantly to what it means to be human.

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Featured Articles Fitzsimon File

Census data a powerful reminder of the need to expand Medicaid

The latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau included some frustrating information about North Carolina and it wasn’t just the state’s sluggish below the national average growth in household median income that the think tanks on the right have mistakenly trumpeted as good news.

The data also showed that the percentage of people without health coverage in the state dropped by 1.9 percent from 2014 to 2015. That means 173,000 people are no longer uninsured thanks to the improving national economy and the Affordable Care Act.

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Featured Articles Weekly Briefing

The Right pushes another whopper about the NC economy

Why recent conservative claims about state income growth are flat out wrong

It’s understandable (and perhaps even a little poignant) that some on the right have been trying so hard of late to put a positive spin on the state of the North Carolina economy. If there’s even the tiniest snippet of encouraging economic news out there these days – anywhere – you can rest assured that conservative politicians and “think tankers” will seize upon it, gather round it and hold it aloft like ancient cavepeople celebrating the discovery of a shiny ingot.

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Featured Articles Progressive Voices

The cuts keep coming: More damning data on the state of NC public school funding

A recent lead editorial in Raleigh’s News & Observer editorial “NC GOP leaders ignore recession cuts when touting funding increases” makes several good points concerning the state’s declining commitment to funding public schools. As the editorial mentions, legislative leaders’ claims that they have increased spending on public schools are “at once true and deceptive” since they compare today’s spending to the temporary budget reductions implemented in the throes of a historically bad recession.

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Featured Articles Fitzsimon File

Monday numbers

47,830---amount in dollars of the median household income in North Carolina in 2015 (North Carolina Income Growth Lags behind the Nation,” WUNC-FM, September 15, 2016)

2.7---percentage increase in median household income in North Carolina in 2015 (Ibid)

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Featured Articles Fitzsimon File

The Follies of the hand-wringing over the damage from HB2

One of the most interesting developments in Raleigh this week was the public announcement by three Republican members of the General Assembly that it is time to repeal or at least revisit HB2, the sweeping anti-LGBT legislation passed in a special legislative session last March and signed into law by Gov. Pat McCrory.

The second thoughts by Republicans who supported the legislation come after the NCAA and the ACC both announced they were pulling events out of the state because of the law, costing the state tens of millions of dollars in revenue, the latest economic blow from the legislation that has already cost North Carolina thousands of jobs and damaged its reputation around the world.

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Featured Articles Progressive Voices

New school year highlights NC’s ongoing failure to invest in child and community well-being

Every year as students from pre-school through college return to the classroom, North Carolinians have a window through which to see how our collective investments match up to the needs of communities.

Are classrooms crowded? Are children ready for Kindergarten? Do schools have the resources to deliver a 21st century education? Do parents need to provide more and more personal resources to fill the gaps?

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Featured Articles Progressive Voices

Some important truths about the Zika crisis and reproductive freedom

Summer is winding down here in North Carolina, but the heat isn’t going away just yet. And neither are the mosquitoes. In the Southeast, mosquito season can last until November, depending on the timing of the first frost. As Florida has now recorded more than 60 non-travel-related Zika cases, mosquitos are on the mind of many state officials and public health professionals. They will also likely be on the minds of women of childbearing age, who continue to confront the dire warnings about the dangers of a Zika infection during pregnancy.

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