NC JUSTICE NEWS: Charter Schools + More, Quality Jobs in NC + Crucial Conversation

September 11, 2012

CHARTER SCHOOLS: Board gives preliminary approval to 25 schools

Last week, the North Carolina State Board of Education gave preliminary approval for 25 new charter schools to open during the 2013-14 school year, the consequences of which could be significant for students across the state.

In letter to the board in the days leading up to the decision, the NC Justice Center outlined concerns that many of the charter applicants do not offer transportation to students, have not yet identified facilities, negatively impact Local Education Agencies, and fail to adequately serve at-risk students. Without addressing these concerns, newly opened charter schools will continue the trend found in existing charter schools of enrolling disproportionately small numbers of economically-disadvantaged students, students with disabilities, limited English proficient students, and students who are at-risk of failing.

Final approval will have to be given to the new charter schools in March. It is imperative that the State Board carefully scrutinizes each application to ensure that each of the new charter schools meet the requirements for charter operation and are accessible to all students.

“This is an opportunity for the State Board to approve the very best charter schools so that any charter approved in this process will be outstanding and improve educational opportunities for all student," the letter reads.

STATE OF WORKING NC: The need for quality jobs

Last week's State of Working North Carolina report included some sobering numbers that showed how North Carolina's working families have struggled over the last decade, both in their financial stability and the lack of economic opportunities afforded to them.

The report also showed that the state not only needs more jobs, but better jobs as well. It needs jobs that include a living wage and adequate work supports, such as health insurance, paid leave, retirement plans, and protections against wage theft.

The Center for Economic and Policy Research finds that such good jobs are in short supply, with approximately 646,000 workers supporting themselves and their families on the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Such a wage is a small fraction of what it takes for a North Carolina family of three to afford their expenses. In addition, almost half of the U.S. workforce had jobs without health insurance and 55% had no retirement plan through work.

Better policies for workers, their families and communities could make all the difference in strengthening our state's economic recovery. Policy makers should promote solutions that address our employment crisis &mdash such as work-sharing policies and creating career pathways. Creating and maintaining jobs that pay a living wage and providing supports that ensure job stability puts us all on the right path toward shared economic prosperity and creates much-needed economic growth for North Carolina.

HEALTH CARE EVENTS: Meetings in Raleigh, Huntersville

Join the NC Justice Center for two upcoming health care events and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

On Monday, September 17, the NC Council of Churches and NC Justice Center invite you to a special meeting on health care. President Obama’s health care law is being implemented and North Carolina lawmakers will decide whether all adults (ages 18-64) who have annual incomes at less than $15,000 per year will have access to quality, affordable health care through Medicaid. Attend this meeting and join the conversation on how the health care law is currently helping your family, and how access to health care in your community could be improved by expanding Medicaid. The event will be held at the Martin Street Baptist Church at 1001 E. Martin Street in downtown Raleigh from 6:30-8:30 p.m. To reserve your seat, contact Nicole Dozier, 919-856-2146 or nicole@ncjustice.org or Pamela Sessoms, (919) 833-9756 or martinstbaptist@nc.rr.com.

On Thursday, September 27, the NC Justice Center and AARP will host a Campaign for Better Care community meeting. Come and share your experiences about what you think needs to be changed in our health system, and take advantage of the expertise offered from the AARP and the Seniors’ Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) and others. The event will be held from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at the North Mecklenburg Senior Center, 16601 Old Statesville Road in Huntersville. To reserve your seat, contact the Senior Center at 704-875-1270 or northmeckdirector@cmseniorcenters.org or Nicole Dozier, 919-856-2146 or nicole@ncjustice.org.

CRUCIAL CONVERSATION: NC Policy Watch events on state of economy

NC Policy Watch will host two Crucial Conversation luncheons this month on the state of North Carolina's economy.

On Thursday, September 20, Prof. Bill Lester of the Department of City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill will unveil an important new study entitled "Mediating Incentives." Few subjects remain more controversial in modern state-level policy debates than business incentives, but Prof. Lester will look at circumstances in which business incentives can work, when done correctly. The luncheon will be co-sponsored by the North Carolina Budget and Tax Center. Register here.

Next up: Join NC Policy Watch on Thursday, September 27 for a talk by Kim Bobo, founder and director of the national advocacy organization, Interfaith Worker Justice. Bobo will explain how wage theft and other abuses are robbing many workers of the compensation and benefits to which they are entitled. Register here for this event.

Both events will take place at the Center for Community Leadership Training Room at the Junior League of Raleigh Building, 711 Hillsborough St. in Raleigh.

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