NC JUSTICE NEWS: Meet the Staff + Affordable Care Act + "The New Public" Documentary Screenings

October 8, 2013
MEET THE STAFF: Christine Bischoff, Staff Attorney, Education & Law Project

Growing up in rural West Virginia, Christine Bischoff realized at a young age what a difference an education could make in a young person’s life.

“Education was the one thing that could have been the equalizer for so many people,” Christine said. “They didn’t have the opportunities, and there were just these cycles of poverty repeating themselves.”

Christine eventually combined her passion for civil rights and education through her work at the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and the NAACP National Headquarters. She also put down roots in North Carolina, earning her undergraduate and law degrees at Wake Forest University, where she currently teaches education law – and represents the school in the Triangle as a die-hard Wake Forest Demon Deacons fan.

Now a staff attorney with the NC Justice Center’s Education & Law Project, Christine has worked on a variety of issues since joining the center in early 2012, including representing students in a gang contracts case last year. A school district forced young students of color to sign contracts admitting to being in gangs, regardless of whether it was true or not. Many of the students didn’t speak English, and were waved their due process rights and put in alternative schools. The Education & Law Project eventually succeeded in making the district get rid of the policy and wipe the contracts from all of the students’ records.

Christine says she’s shocked at the scope of problems faced by North Carolina students — ranging from those in rural areas with limited resources to those who don’t speak English, which Christine says is an extremely vulnerable group. Another major area of concern for the Education & Law Project is the privatization of public education in the state, as public tax dollars are being used to support charter schools and school vouchers, in turn slowly chipping away at traditional public schools.
Even though it can be overwhelming to think about how much works still needs to be done, “I’ve been shocked at how many people are so committed to insuring that low-income kids receive an education,” Christine said.

Christine continues her commitment to education in and outside of the NC Justice Center, having tutored a student with learning disabilities in Washington DC for the past six years. They now conduct their tutoring sessions over Skype, and the student will be graduating from high school in spring 2014.

You can help Christine to continue her work with the Education & Law Project by making a donation to the North Carolina Justice Center. Click here to make a contribution today.

AFFORDABLE CARE ACT: Health insurance marketplace is open for business

On October 1, 2013, the federal Affordable Care Act opened a new online health insurance marketplace (exchange) in NC. There's a lot of information to take in and the NC Justice Center's Health Access Coalition is working nonstop to make sure North Carolinians get the facts they need.

In the new NC Health Marketplace:

  • Plans cover what you need: maternity care, emergency, hospitalizations, prescriptions and more.
  • Financial help is available for many people so plans will fit your budget.
  • You can get expert help for free either online, by phone or in person.
  • You cannot be denied or charged more for a pre-existing health condition.

People who already have health insurance should check and see if they can get a better deal through the health exchange. People who don’t have health insurance currently should also check to see what their premiums will be for high quality coverage. Click here for more information about the Affordable Care Act and what it means for you.

Our Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project has come up with a factsheet addressing what the Affordable Care Act means for immigrants in North Carolina. It outlines which categories of immigrants are eligible to apply for insurance coverage and financial help under the new Affordable Care Act. It also provides information relevant to immigrant families, such as whether assistance is available in foreign languages, what documentation is acceptable in applying for insurance coverage, and whether an application for insurance coverage will affect one's current immigration status or future applications for immigration status.

"NEW PUBLIC": Join the NC Justice Center for documentary screening

tACT, the North Carolina Justice Center, NCA, and Women AdvaNCe are hosting a series of screenings of The New Public, a Working Films documentary, throughout North Carolina this month.

Synopsis: "The New Public follows the journey of students, parents and educators striving to reconcile idealism with reality and make a difference in the futures of young people whose lives are stark representations of our country’s education and opportunity gaps. Through the prism of one inner-city public school, we witness complexities faced by urban public schools and communities everywhere."

  • October 10: 5:30-7:30 p.m., Education Law & Policy Society, Room 5042, UNC Chapel Hill School of Law, Chapel Hill
  • October 19: 6:30-8:30 p.m., Northeast Library, 1241 Military Cutoff Road, Wilmington, NC
  • October 22: 5:30-7:30 p.m., Belk Library and Information Commons, Room 114 at Appalachian State University in Boone
  • November 7: 5:30-7:30 p.m., Watson College of Education, Room 162, UNC Wilmington, Wilmington

In a concerted effort to protect the integrity of the teaching profession in North Carolina as well as to seek to improve the working conditions for public school educators, tACT will facilitate a brief post-screening discussion with the audience at each event. For more information, contact Andy Myers

POVERTY WEBINAR: Join the Budget & Tax Center on Thursday, October 10

The Budget & Tax Center is hosting a webinar later this week about the recent release of survey data from the Census Bureau. The webinar will highlight key information about trends in poverty and income data for North Carolina, including how we compare to other states and the nation. It will also explore the extent of poverty among different demographic groups and examine the effectiveness of the safety net as an anti-poverty tool.

We will also explain how advocates can use the Budget & Tax Center as a resource to find data in order to understand — and help policymakers understand — what is happening in local communities.

The webinar will take place on Thursday, October 10th at 11:00 am ET and will include plenty of time for questions. Register at this link.

Research & Publications: