SILENT SAM'S RESTING PLACE? AWAY FROM UNC WITH OPEN, TRANSPARENT PROCESS: It was a remarkable scheme that Ripley Rand, the outside lawyer hired by the UNC Board of Governors, worked to move through the courts to get Silent Sam in the hands of the North Carolina Chapter of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. We remain astonished that UNC System President Bill Roper would go along with it. And even more remarkable that University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill officials signed it. The plan that the Board came up with and initiated lacked ANY open scrutiny or public discussion. The deal was deservedly met with outrage and civil protest. Silent Sam has no place on the UNC campus – that is the only consensus that has emerged from the Board of Governor’s efforts. The Board of Governors needs to focus on its responsibilities and duties. Leave the disposition of Silent Sam to the folks on the Chapel Hill campus.
ALLOW NC TEACHERS TO ORGANIZE FOR DIGNITY AND BETTER PAY: According to the Learning Policy Institute, this year the U.S. will be short nearly 120,000 educators. In North Carolina, the State Board of Education reported that teacher turnover rate is down to 7.5% which is still a cause for concern when a vacancy means students in a classroom without a full-time, licensed teacher providing instruction. At the school where I teach, this year alone we’ve lost at least five educators, including a young, award-winning teacher, coach, and department leader. Do not make the error of blaming the specific school climate: our teachers are dedicated, our administrators are supportive, our community members are involved, and our students are the absolute best. Other states in the U.S., allow teachers to get together, brainstorm solutions, and then advocate for those solutions in democratic and positive ways. Other states in the U.S. care about an educated populace taught by professionals treated fairly and involved in the decision-making of their expertise. Other states in the U.S. allow teachers to organize and build power from below. Under a specific N.C. law from the 1950s, it is illegal for teacher unions to collectively bargain or go on strike, which declaws any teacher organization from the start. We may march on May Day and wear #RedForEd on Wednesdays, but if we were to mobilize in a way that would actually force the state government to respond to our grievances, we’d risk losing our professional licenses and potentially face a misdemeanor.
WHY SO MANY YOUNG PEOPLE DON'T VOTE, AND HOW TO CHANGE IT: Our research shows that reforms like Election Day registration, preregistration for 16- and 17-year-olds, automatic voter registration and in-class registration drives in high schools substantially increase the number of young people voting for the first time. Second, we need to transform civic education in the United States. At present, many schools follow what we call “bubble sheet civics” by focusing instruction on facts and figures about politics, government and history. This approach simply doesn’t work. An effective civics curriculum requires development of the practical skills and information necessary to become an active voter. Schools need to discuss contemporary political issues, get students involved in civic and political action (e.g. registering other citizens to vote or working on a community problem) and teach young people the fundamental skills needed to follow through on their good intentions. Our research shows that educational programs that teach young people general life skills about how to develop, plan and achieve goals have a large impact not only on academic success, but also on voter turnout.
TRUMP'S IMMIGRATION POLICIES ARE STRAIGHT OUT OF DYSTOPIAN FICTION: Draconian cuts in annual refugee admissions. Disqualification of asylum seekers by changing eligibility rules. Arm-twisting Mexico into blocking U.S.-bound migrants at its southern border. Canceling the Obama-era moratorium on deporting migrants brought to the United States as children. Trying to evict hundreds of thousands of Haitians, Salvadorans, Hondurans and others who have lived and worked legally in this country for years. Other moves, just as or more effective, are bureaucratic booby traps laid in arcane procedural byways. A migrant takes an errant step, in compliance with previous rules, and suddenly finds deportation agents knocking at the door. Or, take the case of unaccompanied migrant minors in the care of the Department of Health and Human Services. For years, they have been provided with services, including counseling by therapists who adhered to their profession’s customary practice of confidentiality. Now, as detailed by The Post’s Hannah Dreier, those assurances of confidentiality are a quaint formality, swapped out for a new regime under which notes taken in therapy are routinely passed along to immigration officials who use them against minors in deportation hearings. Thus has the Trump administration weaponized counseling, transforming therapists into government informers. The rules changes may seem surreal and nightmarish, the stuff of dystopian fiction. The lives they affect, and potentially ruin, are very real. Government forms have become minefields, intentionally designed to entrap the unsuspecting. Adults who present themselves as a means of emotional support for migrant children are really lying in ambush. And a system designed to extend a helping hand to those in peril has been turned into a latticework of sinister snares.
TRUMP MAKES THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM EVEN WORSE: At a time when many Chinese are criticizing Xi for initially covering up the outbreak, should America’s president really side with a dictator who punished doctors rather than listening to them? That critique seems right to me. But a focus on China’s failures or on Trump’s praise risks distracting from our own failures in health care — and this is where Trump’s actions have been more destructive than his words. He has proposed enormous budget cuts for Medicaid, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; if carried out, these would leave the U.S. more vulnerable to a pandemic. But whatever happens with the coronavirus, America’s health system is a mess. That is a consequence of failures that go way back, and Trump is now compounding them. In particular, his lawsuit to destroy Obamacare without offering anything to take its place is the height of irresponsibility; it’s not policy but vandalism. Already, Trump’s policies have led to the loss of health insurance for 400,000 children. Imagine that your child is crying from an ear infection or a toothache and you have no doctor to go to. Or you’re worried that your daughter is slow to speak or your son isn’t growing properly. What are you supposed to do? In some ways, America’s health care is outstanding. Specialized anti-cancer treatments are saving lives. But over all our system has two fundamental flaws. First, outcomes are mediocre and inequitable. Rich Americans live 20 years longer than poor Americans, and low-income American men have approximately the longevity of men living in Sudan. Several American counties have a shorter life expectancy than Cambodia does.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
GARY HATHAWAY: WE NEED TO CARE FOR OUR SENIORS BETTER: As a registered Independent voter weighing my options for the N.C. primary, I offer all N.C. candidates an opportunity to respond to an issue that impacts thousands of families. Many adults today are supporting their aging parents. These parents worked hard all their lives, paid taxes, supported their communities, and retired. At some point the retirement savings dwindle, or an illness occurs, or both, making it impossible to remain independent. When an assisted living facility is required, it’s not uncommon for highly rated facilities in the Triangle area to cost over $65,000 a year — well beyond what most can afford. Conversely, there are dozens of 1-star facilities that upon giving up all of one’s modest retirement savings would be covered by Medicare/Medicaid. One political party calls caring for our most vulnerable citizens socialism. Then what do you call turning your backs on them?
TIM LEVALLEE: ZANE MISSES THE MARK ON EDUCATION: Regarding “4 myths about education in NC,” (Feb. 18 Opinion): J. Peder Zane’s attempt to dispel myths falls short. Although North Carolina has much to do before it truly provides a “sound basic education” for all children, the recent report by WestEd provides a road map to get us there. We must take a critical look at our system of funding, professional development, early literacy and other factors identified in WestEd’s 2019 report. Zane’s arguments don’t elevate the conversation or break new ground with respect to public education. Rather than pointing out myths, perhaps we should identify solutions. Those solutions start with getting dedicated educators in the schools doing their best work for all students, and, yes, these solutions will require more money. Why? Because to attract and retain the highest-performing teachers and school leaders, the N.C. General Assembly must act to provide adequate compensation, benefits, and resources.
ATINUKE DIVER: DURHAM'S HOUSING CRISIS DEMANDS OUR ATTENTION: Much local and national attention has been given to living conditions at McDougald Terrace. In July 2019, Durham Congregations, Associations and Neighborhoods (CAN) conducted a resident inspection of the Durham Housing Authority’s Hoover Road community. We took over 100 photos from half the occupied units documenting severely damaged roofs, dangerous leaks, mold infestations, and gas leaks. While the crisis at McDougald did not come as a complete surprise to us, we were horrified that many of these conditions of neglect came as a great surprise to leaders within DHA, in city hall, and to many citizens. In 1967, Martin Luther King described the national crises of war, race and poverty as a diabolical brew demanding a “fierce urgency of now.” Durham CAN believes Durham faces a “fierce urgency of now” related to our multiple housing crises. Neighbors are being displaced by rising housing prices. DHA properties have been graded as the worst in the state. Every citizen of Durham should feel ashamed.