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Monday Numbers: A new year, a new administration, an urgent need to help families

The first Monday of the New Year comes with much hope and optimism that things will be better than 2020. But as the Biden-Harris administration prepares to take over in just 16 days, there is much work that needs to be done to address hunger, health and homelessness in our country. This week's Monday numbers column looks at some of the challenges as highlighted by the Annie E. Casey Foundation that require an urgent response from the new president and the incoming Congress.

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Environment Top Story

Environment 2020: A year of major wins, but also major losses

If it didn't create air pollution, I'd burn my 2020 calendar. A terrible, awful year, despite a few, albeit significant environmental wins. Climate change, of course, continued unabated. Otherwise, without a massive coal ash spill or major hurricane to capture the public's attention, the environmental losses were quieter, more piecemeal, albeit also significant...

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Policy Watch’s Top 10 editorial cartoons of 2020

As we say goodbye to 2020, we hope you will enjoy some of our favorite editorial cartoons of the past 12 months by Policy Watch cartoonist John Cole.

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COVID-19 Education News Top Story

The year in review: Some of the top stories from a tumultuous time in public education

The pandemic only added to the enormous challenges confronting NC public schools It’s been called a year like no other.  And 2020 has been that, especially for teachers and parents struggling to educate school children during the deadly COVID-19 pandemic that has killed more than 300,000 people across the United States.

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Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

The year in review: Five “PW investigates” stories to remember

Looking back on the pandemic, some of its many disturbing impacts, and one community's controversial plan to revive its economy In a year upended and dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic, Policy Watch covered the crisis with daily stories and investigative pieces from the institutional to the personal.

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Progressive Voices Top Story

The death penalty in NC: A call for truth and reconciliation

This month, I watched the federal government execute two Black men in two days, Brandon Bernard and Alfred Bourgeois. In an unprecedented and spiteful move, Trump’s lame-duck administration has undertaken a spree of executions after a 17-year hiatus. If all goes as planned, thirteen people will be killed before Joe Biden, who has pledged to end the federal death penalty, takes office. Six of the last seven will be Black men.

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Must Reads Top Story

“Must read” report: Damage to public schools from NC voucher programs continues to grow

New report says “Opportunity Scholarship” voucher programs undermine public education, foster division, and undermine children’s development while also costing the state millions During the 2020 legislative session at the North Carolina General Assembly, lawmakers made changes to the state's Opportunity Scholarship program that will cost the state approximately $272 million over the next 10 years...

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Top Story Weekly Briefing

A holiday wish list for some notable NC politicians

At a very small risk violating North Carolina’s rather convoluted statutory ban on gifts to public officials, here is this year’s holiday wish list for some of our state’s most prominent political figures: For Governor Roy Cooper and Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen: The chance to make the announcement that each of them has no doubt been dreaming of for nearly a year...

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Politicians quit Congress, but their ‘zombie’ campaigns stagger on with millions in the bank

WASHINGTON — Republican Michele Bachmann hasn’t set foot in the U.S. Capitol as an elected member of Congress from Minnesota for at least six years. Though she recently made news for asking God to help reelect President Donald Trump and telling a television show that “transgender Black Marxists” are trying to overthrow the country, none of that appears to be tied to any new bid for Congress.

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Monday Numbers: For North Carolina, a devastating year for job losses

As 2020 draws to a close, the COVID-19 pandemic continues have a devastating economic impact on North Carolinians. Many businesses remain closed or are operating at limited capacity; some have closed permanently. More than 1.3 million North Carolinians applied for benefits between March 15 and Dec. 16, according to data released last week by the N.C. Department of Commerce’s Division of Employment Security. More than 40,000 people filed claims last week alone.

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COVID-19 Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Black Americans are reluctant to take a COVID-19 vaccine. Efforts to build trust are underway.

A history of unethical medical experimentation on Black people has raised vaccine concerns among communities of color. Coronavirus vaccines were a topic of the day for volunteers at Global Scholars Academy in Durham last Saturday. The church across the street, Union Baptist just north of downtown, was hosting a coronavirus testing site on one side of the school, and volunteers were distributing meals and Christmas gifts on the other side.

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Education Top Story

Mark Johnson’s rocky tenure comes to a close in familiar fashion

State Superintendent Mark Johnson will end his tenure this month the same way he started it four years ago – at odds with the State Board of Education.  The state board’s decision to require high school students and ...
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Education Top Story

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos heads for the exits, leaving a legacy of turmoil

WASHINGTON—In four years in office, U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos failed to broaden her appeal beyond the moment she won a wild Senate confirmation fight by the closest of margins. She didn’t even try. Instead, the billionaire Michigan native and Republican megadonor championed private and charter schools, often trying to funnel federal funding toward them. Her full-throated support outraged Democrats in Congress, riled the nation’s powerful teachers unions and never registered as a major priority for the Trump administration.

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Environment News Top Story

DEQ Secretary Michael Regan is leading contender for top EPA job under Biden administration

Supporters, detractors grade Regan's performance as NC DEQ secretary A few days before state lawmakers confirmed Michael Regan as Secretary of the Environment in 2017, he appeared in Mebane, where he spoke to the West End Revitalization Association and other environmental justice advocates.

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COVID-19 News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

Experts warn of pandemic-related “eviction tsunami”

With the first shipments of a COVID-19 vaccine arriving in the state, many North Carolinians are feeling a new kind of hope as the pandemic stretches into 2021. But without swift government action at the state and federal levels, the new year could usher in an “eviction tsunami” and economic devastation, according to experts who gathered to discuss the problem Tuesday.

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News Policy Watch Investigates Top Story

More financial trouble is predicted for NC cities and counties. What’s the solution?

In a budget crisis, these entities can lose control of their finances to the state Janet Gerald, mayor pro tem of Kingstown, knew high sewer costs were a financial strain for the town when she was took office three years ago. Still, the realization that the town needed to relinquish control of its spending hit her hard.   “I was a little disappointed,” she said. “I was sad. I was heartbroken. I was embarrassed. I was crushed.”

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