NC JUSTICE NEWS: Post-Secondary Education + Tax Day Campaign + Child Labor

April 11, 2012

POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION: Investing in NC's future

For many years, North Carolina was recognized for its commitment to education and understanding that the pathway to the middle-class passes through the school house door. Yet evidence has shown that more and more career pathways will require a post-secondary education, and North Carolina will have to start cleaning up its act if we're going to support our future workforce.

A new report from the NC Budget & Tax Center finds that the state’s investment in post-secondary education has sharply declined over the Great Recession. With a $917.2 million cut in the budget passed last spring, funds for post-secondary education were brought to a 40-year low as a share of the state’s economy. The University of North Carolina system saw its state appropriation cut by $682.2 million and community college system by $235 million.

Tuition in the university system and community colleges has increased, even as need-based aid has declined or remained flat, representing a barrier for first-generation and low-income students considering a post-secondary education.

Post-secondary education is increasingly seen as the best pathway to the middle class, and by 2018, nearly 60 percent of the state’s jobs will require some post-secondary education. Given this shift, it’s of the utmost importance that North Carolina rededicate itself to the support of education at all levels, thereby securing our state’s economic well-being and the future success of its residents.


North Carolina’s state dog is the Plott Hound. As tax day approaches, Together NC has enlisted a hound of their own to sniff out examples of the Old North State’s best tax-funded public investments.

Together NC's new social media campaign will feature photos and video of Russell the Basset Hound as he sniffs out vital investments in North Carolina that have been funded by taxes. Starting this week, Russell will visit schools, parks, police stations, libraries and playgrounds to send a message about our tax dollars: “North Carolina is worth it."

Taxes fund these vital public investments that keep our children educated and our streets safe. Follow Russell the Hound on Together NC Facebook and Twitter pages and see just how North Carolina’s public structures are worth supporting through our tax dollars.

CHILD LABOR: Labor commissioner unwilling to take a stand

Last week, advocates from the Farmworker Advocacy Network met with NC Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry to discuss employment of children in agriculture. It was a monumental event – the first time that a labor commissioner from the state has met with advocates – and yet the very state agency that is tasked with protecting workers failed to send any signal against child labor in the North Carolina fields.

At the meeting, advocates urged Berry to back “Hazardous Order” revisions recently issued by U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis that would protect young farmworkers from dangerous work. However, Berry said that she “did not think it was appropriate to take action on this issue until Congress acted on immigration reform.” Many of the children who work in the fields in North Carolina are in fact U.S. citizens, so while immigration reform is an important part of the solution, so are simple but common-sense child labor regulations.

Farmworker Advocacy Network delivered a letter to Ms. Berry following the meeting, saying that they were disappointed that the NC Department of Labor seems unwilling to take a stand against employing children under the age of 13 in agricultural jobs.

“We look forward to hearing whether the Department will make a public statement in support of these important protections for child farmworkers,” the letter reads. “We hope that, in light of this change in public policy, you will revisit the Department's position on the employment of children in agriculture.”


The Justice Center presents its Defender of Justice Awards to honor individuals or organizations that have made significant contributions in the fight against poverty in four areas that reflect the scope of the Justice Center’s work. The 2012 honorees are:


  • State Representative Deborah Ross of Wake County for her dedication to increasing access to affordable housing and public transportation, protecting civil rights, and improving conditions for North Carolina's workers.
  • State Representative Larry Hall of Durham County for his commitment to protecting vulnerable families and members of the military from predatory lenders, safeguarding voting rights, and expanding opportunities for low-income individuals and communities throughout the state.


  • Disability Rights North Carolina for their research and advocacy efforts to uphold the fundamental rights of people with disabilities to live free from harm in the communities of their choice and with the opportunity to participate fully and equally in society.


  • Mary Lee Hall of Legal Aid of NC’s Farmworker Unit for fighting to protect the rights and improve the well-being of the tens of thousands of migrant and seasonal farmworkers who work in North Carolina’s fields.


  • Reuben Blackwell of Rocky Mount for his tenacity in opening doors to opportunity, breaking down barriers, and standing up for the rights and well-being of the people of Rocky Mount and the state.

The event will be held on Thursday, May 10, 2012 from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Bay 7 in the American Tobacco Campus, Durham. Purchase your ticket today!

CAMPAIGN FOR BETTER CARE: Luncheon in Greensboro

Join the NC Justice Center and AARP NC on Tuesday, April 17 for the next Campaign for Better Care community luncheon and make your voice heard on one of the most important, complex issues in North Carolina today.

The Campaign for Better Care aims to make improvements in the health system for vulnerable older adults and to build a strong, lasting consumer voice for better health care. 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).

The free event will be held from 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at Beloved Community Center in Greensboro. To reserve your space, contact the Beloved Community Center at 336-230-0001 or Nicole Dozier at or 919-856-2146.


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