March 22, 2018
The General Assembly is not in session right now, but committees continue to meet. We will come back in session on May 16 for what is called the “Short Session.” It has no formal end date, but August is usually when it ends.
School Safety and Gun Safety
Yesterday the House Committee on School Safety met and heard testimony from a number of experts on how to improve our schools. Presenters included law enforcement, emergency management officials, mental health professionals, educators, and students. You can access the information presented here.
After the presentations, legislators proposed a number of ideas for consideration at future meetings. Generally, the proposals can be categorized three ways: improving the services we provide students, enhancing school security, and common-sense gun safety ideas.
On the issue of student services, North Carolina has underfunded our schools for years in a lot of ways. Just one example is school psychologists. The national standard is one school psychologist for every 700 students. North Carolina has one for every 2,100 students. The result is our students are not getting the evaluations and treatment they need for mental health, individualized education programs, social skill development, and risk assessment for suicide or dangerous behavior. Investing more for psychologists, nurses, and other ways will help school safety, but more importantly, help our students succeed and learn.
On the issue of school security, there were ideas that may be good (well-trained school resource officers), but there is also a risk in going too far and making our schools more like fortresses and not as welcoming places for learning. There is a balance we must strike. I am also opposed to bringing more guns into the schools via volunteers or teachers. That will cause far more problems than it will solve.
The final group of proposals centered on overall gun safety. I believe passing common-sense gun safety reforms will make all places in our communities safer. Sadly, we see gun violence in churches, universities, and neighborhoods. It’s far from just a school problem.
During the committee meeting the only gun safety ideas were proposed by Democrats. Hopefully, that will change and my Republican colleagues will follow the example of Florida’s Republican legislature and Governor who passed reforms earlier this month, including raising the age for gun ownership from 18 to 21.
The committee will continue to meet and the general ideas discussed this week will start to become more detailed and specific.
What is important is that public pressure continue. On Saturday, March 24, families and students are organizing a national March For Our Lives event to demand action on gun safety. Visit here to find out details about North Carolina events.
Bipartisanship on guns? NC Democrats propose new laws without GOP backers
The News & Observer
Florida Gun Bill: What’s in It, and What Isn’t
New York Times
NC Democrats talk up gun-law proposals
Governor Cooper Proclaims March 19 – 28 as Students@Work Week
To encourage middle school students to work with local employers to try out future careers, Governor Roy Cooper has declared March 19 - 28, 2018 as Students@Work℠ Week. During this 8-day career awareness blitz, at least 160 employers from across the state will open their doors, link-in virtually, or send representatives to schools to provide more than 29,000 middle school students with exposure to jobs and industries.
Students participating in Students@Work 2018 will be exposed to careers in the education, energy, finance, health care, hospitality, legal, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, retail, and technology industries along with careers in the public sector.
There will also be a virtual component aimed at expanding access to schools in more rural parts of the state. Through virtual Students@Work events, industry leaders from businesses such as Novozymes, Google, IBM and UNC Hospitals will talk to students from across the state, explaining what they do and answering questions.
Since 2011, more than 176,000 middle school students have participated in the Students@Work program, which is a partnership between the North Carolina Business Committee for Education, a nonprofit housed in the Governor’s Office, and the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
For more information about Students@Work℠ Week, visit ncbce.org/students-at-work/.
North Carolina Remains Ninth-Most Populous State in Census Estimates
New Census population estimates show that as of July 1, 2017, 10.3 million people live in North Carolina and the state remains the ninth most populous in the country.
Population growth is not uniform across the state, however. We have 100 counties. 66 of them grew in population from 2016 to 2017. 33 declined in population.
North Carolina’s Office of State Budget and Management released a nice write-up of the latest population numbers which you can read here.
North Carolina tribes fear impact of Atlantic Coast Pipeline construction
Energy News Network
Matthews schools for Matthews kids: Town pride or race prejudice?
NC's latest strategy to fight human trafficking? The liquor store.
The News & Observer
Examine the culture, not the women when talking about harassment in politics
Op-Ed by Lauren Horsch