ECONOMIC BARRIERS REMAIN
FOR NC BLACKS
By Cash Michaels
In 2016, the U.S. Census found that 23.4 percent of black North Carolinians lived in poverty, while only 12 percent of white state residents were struggling in the same condition, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute.
That is one of the latest entries in the NC Budget and Tax Center’s “Prosperity Watch” series, which frequently gauges the economic progress, or lack thereof, of North Carolinians.
According to that Economic Policy Institute report, African-Americans have made progress “…in absolute terms…” over the past fifty years, but that progress is “…limited in removing [historic] barriers that maintain persistently high differences in outcomes for African-Americans relative to whites.”
For instance, using the same measure for North Carolina, 38.7 percent of black families in 1970 lived in poverty compared to 11.1.percent of white families.
Again, in 2016, it was 23.4 percent black, compared to 12 percent white living in poverty. So there definitely has been progress in the state since 1970. EPI researchers maintain that the racial barriers in employment, education and housing still exist to a certain degree.
Nationally, researchers found, 21.4 percent of African-Americans lived in poverty in 2016, compared to just 8.8 percent of whites.
However, when it comes to unemployment, the gap between blacks and whites has actually widened over the past 50 years, EPI researchers found. Whereas the unemployment rate gap between blacks and whites was 4 percent 50 years ago (6.40% to 2.70%), in 2016, it was 5 percentage points (9.79% to 5.02%).
“African-Americans in North Carolina must still confront large economic barriers,’ confirms Rob Schofield, of NC Policy Watch.
Indeed earlier this year, the NC Budget and Tax Center reported that nationally, while the unemployment rate for black workers dropped to its lowest level on record (6.7 percent), “…[in North Carolina] the unemployment rate for black workers is still 2.3 times higher than that for white workers,…according to the latest available data from the third quarter of 2017 on unemployment rates by race and ethnicity in North Carolina.
The January 15, 2018 report continued, “The unemployment rate, a measure of those out of work and looking for work, was 7 percent for black people in the third quarter of 2017. The last time the state’s overall unemployment rate was at 7 percent was in 2013. The persistence of such an elevated unemployment rate for black people five years past the overall unemployment rate has declined from such levels signals the barriers that have remained in place for black people in particular.”
The NCBTC report continued, “The failure of job growth to reach evenly across geographies, the persistence of barriers to employment like the lack of affordable retraining for new careers, and the concentrations of black workers in the public sector are particular factors explaining unemployment differences in the recent period.”
And what about the much-hailed economic recovery that the Trump Administration has touted for the past several months?
“…the supposed recovery has done little to unmake economic systems that disproportionately benefit white people in North Carolina, the NC Budget and Tax Center reported last December, noting that “Recovery ha not addressed racial barriers to economic opportunity and prosperity.”
NC PUBLIC SCHOOLS RESEGREGATING
AT AN ALARMING RATE
by Cash Michaels
There are more high poverty schools, containing more poor children of color, across North Carolina now, resulting in an alarming resegregation.
That is the contention in a new report, “Stymied by Segregation: How Integration Can Transform North Carolina Schools and the Lives of Its Students” by Kris Nordstrom, a policy analyst with the NC Justice Center, a non-partisan progressive policy group.
The report analyzes the past ten years on trends in public school segregation in North Carolina, and notes that the number of racially and economically isolated schools has increased; economic segregation is on the rise, even though the racial distribution in various school districts is mixed; larger school districts aren’t doing enough to integrate their schools; school district boundaries are still used to maintain segregated school systems; and charter schools tend to “exacerbate’ segregation.”
The report then states that the NC General Assembly “…increasingly considers bills that would further exacerbate school segregation.”
One of those prospective measures, House Bill 704, is already being discussed by the Joint Legislative Study Committee on the Division of Local School Administrative Units. That committee held its first meeting March 13th to discuss the consequences of breaking up large school districts like Wake and Charlotte-Mecklenburg, and turning them into smaller ones.
While mostly Republican state lawmakers tried to make the case that smaller school districts would be better for North Carolina’s students, Sen. Joyce Waddell (D-Mecklenburg) weighed in to ask the obvious question that none of the Republicans broached.
“What measures do you have in place that would prevent [students of color from being harmed], that discriminatory factors would not be the major factors in North Carolina as we move forward to breaking up large school systems?”
Indeed, many critics of the GOP efforts to even consider breaking up large school districts across the state suggest it’s a thinly disguised attempt at resegregation. “What measures do you have in place that would prevent that from happening, that discriminatory factors would not be the major factors in North Carolina as we move forward to breaking up large school systems?” asked outgoing state Sen. Angela Bryant (D-Nash).
According to the National Equity Atlas (NEA), “…one of every three students of color in North Carolina attends a high poverty school,” defined as “…schools in which 75 percent or more of the student body qualifies for federal free or reduced price lunch.” NEA goes on to state that “…concentrated high-poverty schools are often the result of economic and racial segregation.”
The expanding achievement gap between black and white students in North Carolina is seen as a direct result of increasing segregation in the public schools.
“If we do not address the proliferation of high-poverty schools,” writes NEA author Brian Kennedy, “… many of our students will leave high school unprepared for post-secondary education and underqualified to participate in the workforce.”
According to the “Stymied by Segregation” report, school districts in New Hanover, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Wake counties, among others have the largest increase in income-based segregation.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg has the most racially segregated school district in North Carolina. Guilford and Forsyth counties are among the ten most segregated school districts in the state.
In closing, the report, in promoting school integration, says, “The state’s public schools are becoming increasingly segregated by income, and while the trends in racial school segregation in North Carolina are mixed, the overall level of racial segregation remains far too high.”
STATE NEWS BRIEFS 03-20-18
ST. AUG STUDENT REMAINS IN CRITICAL CONDITION AFTER SHOOTING
[COLUMBIA, S.C.] A St. Augustine’s University student remains in critical condition with a serious spinal injury in a Columbia hospital after he was one of three innocent bystanders shot Saturday evening in the Five Points section of the city.
Howard Boone, Jr., 23, is said to be under sedation after undergoing surgery to the back of his neck where he was shot. Boone, a member of the campus ROTC , and a criminal justice major. His mother says he has been in the US Army Reserves since 2013, and plans to seek a commission as a US Army officer after he graduates in 2019.
The alleged shooter, Arthur Jones, Jr., 22, has been charged with three counts of attempted murder. One of the other three victims was shot in the face.
FOUR-YEAR-OLD RECOVERING AFTER POLICE DOG ATTACKS HER
[SHELBY] A four-year-old child remains in the hospital after being attacked by a police dog over the weekend while Shelby police were chasing a suspect. Little Karmen Wilson happened to be in a car when the fleeing suspect opened the door, the K-9 dog to attack her, biting into her body. Karmen was in surgery Monday for reconstructive surgery. Shelby police justify the use of the K-9, saying that the suspect had multiple felony warrants. But community leaders counter that a police dog should not have been used. Karmen’s family is expected to file a lawsuit.
NO MORE IN-TOWN ALLIGATOR HUNTING IN BELVILLE
[BELVILLE] No more alligator hunting in the Brunswick County town of Belville, by order of the town commissioners. Why? Town leaders were concerned that the hunting of female alligators would hurt the overall gator population. Alligator hunting in the state is by permit only. The NC Wildlife Resources Commission has approved an Alligator management plan, establishing a one month hunting season from Sept. 1 to oct. 1. Alligator hunters are allowed to kill only one alligator per season.