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The South is the first region with more than 50 percent of minority and low-income students in the public school system, according to a January 2010 report released by the Southern Education Foundation.

The South, which has a history of racial segregation and civil rights movements, was once the only section in the Unied States that lawfully permitted segregation in schools.

Despite strides toward equality since the Civil Rights movement, many southern schools still face the same dilemmas. Educators require new curricula and restructured teaching methods to meet the needs of more diverse classrooms.

“In terms of minorities, I don’t know that it would change education, but I do think that it challenges us to think about how to teach children from different cultures,” Amy Harper-Wallace, Elon Elementary School principal, said. “In terms of poverty, that changes a lot because (low-income students’) knowledge base is different.”

Students from low-income families often encounter difficulties learning at the same level as other students. This is due to non-English speaking parents and family members who did not complete an education. Various backgrounds often contribute to different learning levels.

The Southern Education Foundation stressed the challenges involved with the shifting of minorities to majorities in the coming years. Southerners must overcome existing prejudice and racism for non-white groups, urge the writers of the report.

“I think we are willing to pay attention to (the poverty level) more now than in the past,” assistant professor of education Terry Tomasek said.

“I think we were less able to pay attention to differences in the past. We wanted to make everyone the same. We’re now more willing to allow differences.”

Another concern from the report is academic performance and attendance levels of poor and minority students. On average poor and minority students score lower on tests and on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is the only national performance examination for students K-12.

Minority and low-income students drop out of school more frequently and are less likely to graduate from high school, according to the report.

“What was the type of student 50 years ago is no longer the norm now,” Tomasek said.

Tomasek and Harper-Wallace agree education must be broadened and tweaked for the new student majority. Teachers must be prepared at the undergraduate level to recognize the diverse needs of children in the classroom and address those needs in methods that best fit the individual student.

Tomasek also said students need to learn how to be problem-solvers, especially low-income students who could be the first in their families to attend college.

“Hopefully (the changes) will make education better because it will help us teach to wider, broader audiences,” Harper-Wallace said. “We need to be culturally neutral so we can reach children in any type of culture.”


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By Sarah Beth Costello

Dec. 9, 2009

As the economy fluctuates, the unemployment rate climbs, the issue of nationalized health care looms and war is prolonged, many Americans are second guessing the actions and intentions of elected officials.

A Nov. 16-17 Elon University Poll, which surveyed 563 North Carolina residents, revealed that 73 percent of respondents think corruption is prevalent among elected officials. According to 65 percent of those polled, elected officials are more concerned for themselves than the best interest of the public, and 67 percent said corruption is becoming more common among North Carolina public officials.

“I think a lot of citizens are frustrated, and that translates to blame on elected officials because they are the ones that we’ve trusted in making our country better,” Student Government Association President and Elon junior Justin Peterson said. “If the state of the nation is negative, I think our perception of their job would be negative as well.”

The media has reported dozens of political scandals in the past few months, from the promiscuous excursions of South Carolina Sen. Mark Sanford to Baltimore Mayor Sheila Dixon’s bribery scandals and the questionable actions of Gov. Mike Easley in connection with the hiring of his wife at N.C. State University.

“I think, historically, distrust in government goes back to the 1970s with Watergate,” SGA Vice President Evan Davis said. “I think another issue with that is the state of North Carolina. I know there are problems with the budget and state employees.”

Many North Carolinians blame elected officials for the discrepancies in the budget and handling of finances on a state and local level. The recent recession has impacted thousands of North Carolina households, and the unemployment rate continues to climb.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the North Carolina unemployment rate is 11 percent, increased 4 percent since October 2008.

“Right now, there’s a lot of debate with state officials,” said Taylor Foshee, president of College Democrats. “People think our officials in North Carolina have become complacent and have not addressed some of the pressing issues like the economy and jobs. There’s not enough action for (many), especially given what we perceive to be a severe issue.”

Corruption among elected officials is often widespread and heavily reported, contributing to a lack of faith and support for political leaders. Respondents to the Elon Poll are not the only ones who are wavering in their trust in elected officials.

A Nov. 30 Rasmussen Poll revealed a lack of confidence in politicians, particularly Democrats. The survey was conducted before President Barack Obama’s speech on his plans for the war in Afghanistan.

Voters gave a 13-point edge to Republicans — 50 percent to 37 percent — in regard to trust in national security and the War on Terror.

“The intense frustration with government and politicians among North Carolinians could pose serious ramifications for the electoral landscape in 2010,” said Hunter Bacot, director of the Elon University Poll. “Coupled with a poor economy, the midterm elections may shape up as more of a referendum on government in general rather than the typical repudiation of the party in power.”

More than half of the respondents to the Elon Poll said corruption among North Carolina elected officials is more common today than 10 years ago but most appear to trust North Carolina legislative bodies more than national legislative bodies.

“I would foresee some type of shakeup in upcoming local elections and the larger elections in 2012,” Davis said. “I think it’s going to be interesting how the next couple of years will play out. State politics have been dominated by Democrats, and Republicans haven’t held the House or Senate in 150 years.”

Davis said he thinks many North Carolinians, and Americans in general, are wary of the unfulfilled campaign promises that helped elect Obama into office.

“With the Afghanistan troop surge, many are upset about that because that’s something that Obama was against,” Davis said. “The economy and health care are two mainstream issues that he talked about as well as gay rights and the environment. There are a lot of campaign promises he hasn’t come through on.”

Despite the distrust Americans may have for political leaders, 74 percent of respondents said America has the best government in the world, and 65 percent claimed support of the United States government despite any actions in Washington.

By Sarah Beth Costello

Nov. 10, 2009

Nurse Kelly Cobb never wished she were allergic to eggs until the Moses Cone Health System in Greensboro began requiring that all hospital staff receive the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine.

Individuals with egg allergies were exempt because both vaccines are egg based.

Cobb, who works in the telemetry and urology units, said last year Moses Cone attempted to make the regular flu shot mandatory, but canceled the requirement halfway through the designated time period. This year, Moses Cone once again required all hospital staff to receive the seasonal flu shot by Oct. 31 or risk termination from their jobs.

“I waited until the last minute to see if they would cancel (the mandatory  seasonal flu shot),” Cobb said. “Moses Cone came out with a statement saying if you don’t get the vaccine it will be considered a voluntary resignation with no option for rehire.”

Cobb ended up getting the seasonal flu shot, but since she does not work with patients who are extremely susceptible to H1N1, she is still waiting for her turn to get that vaccine. She is currently trying to decide whether or not to get the H1N1 shot or resign.

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Area hospitals are requiring that all staff receive the seasonal flu shot and the H1N1 vaccine. Its relatively new release is brewing controversy as many do not want to get a vaccine that has not been thoroughly tested.

Moses Cone is also requiring that all staff receive the H1N1 vaccination, although it is being issued on different levels. For example, hospital staff that work in cancer wards, with infants or patients with susceptible immune systems, have already received the vaccination.

Eventually, the entire staff will be vaccinated.

“There are exceptions (other than egg allergies),” Cobb said. “If you get a doctor’s note it has to have a valid reason, and (Moses Cone) can say ‘No, this is not a credible option,’ or ‘Yes, this is substantial for being exempt.'”

The H1N1 vaccination has become a controversial issue. Thousands of Americans are anxiously waiting for the vaccine to become available in their areas, but others are cautious of a vaccine that’s long-term side effects are still unknown.

The Greensboro News and Record reported Nov. 5 that three Moses Cone hospital workers resigned for failing to receive a seasonal flu shot.

According to the article, many workers were angered by the either/or option that required them to get a shot, since they did not want or lose their jobs in an already unstable economy.

Despite rumors and concerns that the H1N1 vaccine could lead to serious side effects, health officials claim patients won’t suffer more than slight soreness. But this does not eradicate concerns for the long-term side effects.

“I don’t want to get it because I’m concerned it hasn’t been tested thoroughly,” Cobb said, whose unit is in the second tier to receive the vaccine. “Personally, I don’t appreciate that (Moses Cone) is only seeing me as an employee and not as an individual. They are not giving me the same opportunity as they’re giving patients who have every right to receive or not receive any treatment.”

A recent Associated Press poll showed one-third of American parents did not want their children to receive the H1N1 vaccine despite urges from the CDC and doctors this summer that children be vaccinated.

“My opinion is (the vaccine) is way too new and has not gone through enough clinical trials to be on the market,” said Celia Henry, a nursing student at Alamance Community College and student R.N. at Alamance Regional Medical Center. “I don’t think employees should be required to get (the vaccine) because they have a choice whether to do patient care with or without a mask.”

Few area hospitals are requiring staff to receive the H1N1 vaccine. While ARMC has not mandated an H1N1 vaccination, staff and patients are encouraged to get it.

“All vaccines that are mandatory have been on the market (for a long time), like chicken pox and rubella,” Henry said.

The major concern with the H1N1 vaccination is its recent release. Most hospitals require basic vaccinations and the addition of another one is not viewed as problematic.

“Patients make the comment that they don’t want the people taking care of them to be sick, they don’t want to be exposed,” Cobb said. “I completely appreciate that, and at the same time they need to consider that every day I expose myself to viruses and diseases, whether it’s AIDS, hepatitis or the simple cold, to take care of people. It’s a risk I take on a daily basis.”

The Center for Disease Control reported 22 flu-related deaths last week. Nineteen were confirmed H1N1 cases and three were influenza A viruses. The CDC has received 114 laboratory-confirmed pediatric 2009 H1N1 deaths since April.

Elon students, faculty and staff have also received their share of confirmed H1N1 cases and type A flu.

“As of Oct. 31, we had 100 patients confirmed with Type A flu (most probably H1N1, but not confirmed),” said Jana Lynn Patterson, assistant vice president for student life and associate dean of students. “We have had seven cases confirmed by the CDC and we had another 364 patients who presented influenza-like symptoms, but may or may not have had the flu.”

The Health Center is not requiring staff to receive the vaccine, although they encourage students, faculty and staff to research it and make their own decisions.

“I think that if people are healthy and are comfortable they should definitely get it,” Patterson said. “The CDC is saying it’s safe for most people and their recommendation is, unless there’s a medical reason, people most likely should get (the vaccine.)”

By Sarah Beth Costello

For centuries, many have questioned the existence of God, the existence of truth and its correlation with morality. Apologist Frank Turek presented an argument, “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist,” in April 2009 and returned Thursday night to speak again.

Turek is the co-author of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist” and founder of www.crossExamined.org. He has debated this topic with well-known atheists and believes in the existence of God and truth.

The event was co-sponsored by Intervarsity, Campus Outreach, Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Baptist Student Union. Turek will return Monday for the second part of his presentation, which will focus on the possibility of miracles and the relevance of the New Testament.

“Truth is what corresponds to reality,” said Turek at the start of his presentation. “In today’s culture our first duty is to state the obvious. People are denying the obvious, they’re denying there’s truth out there.”

Turek explained the law of non-contradiction, which states that two contradictory ideas cannot both be true. Turek argued that all truth is absolute truth and “applies to all persons, at all times, in all places.” He provided six examples of statements people use to discount truth: “There is no truth, you can’t know truth, truth is relative, it’s true for you but not for me, no one has the truth and you ought not judge.” If any of these statements are true then the Bible cannot be true, argued Turek.

“If you apply the claims to themselves,” said Turek, “you can see why they’re self-defeating, and when it’s logically self-defeating it can’t be true.”

Turek also explained the three major worldviews, which are theism, pantheism and atheism. Though many regard the term “religious” as being a follower or practitioner of a religion, Turek argued,”if you define religion as someone’s explanation for ultimate reality – how we got here and where we’re going – everybody is religious to some extent.”

Turek’s argument was met with some debate and conflicting opinions.

“I like that (Turek’s) trying to rationally justify (his beliefs). I think that discussion needs to be had,” said Michael Kleinmann, president of SANE who said he respected Turek even though he did not believe Turek is correct.

“The university is an institution where the free exchange of ideas are shared,” said campus outreach chaplain Michael Lopes. “It’s important in our setting to have representation of different views.

Turek will speak again Thursday in Whitley Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

Pregnancy centers, schools and various organizations have attempted to combat unplanned teenage pregnancies for years, and while numbers have decreased, the levels are still too high.

Teen-Pregnancy

In 2008, 59 out of every 1,000 North Carolina teenage girls between 15 and 19 became pregnant out of wedlock.

A recent press release issued by the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention reported a decrease in pregnancy rates for teenage girls ages 15-19 — a 30-year low for the state. New data shows there were 217 fewer pregnancies among North Carolina teenage girls in 2008 than in 2007.

Many have different speculations for the drop in numbers.

“I think that age group (15-19) has been around people who have had babies out of wedlock and realized that’s a big responsibility,” said Mimi Every, executive director of Pregnancy Support Services in Durham, N.C. “Single parenting is difficult, especially when you’re young.”

There are dozens of pregnancy centers in North Carolina that provide services to teen girls in various predicaments, answering questions, offering testing and guiding them through their pregnancies.

Pregnancy Support Services helps teen girls who are pregnant or think they are pregnant. The organization offers free STD testing and pregnancy tests for young women, and also lends support for pregnant mothers throughout their pregnancies.

Many counties across the state have also taken initiatives to decrease teen pregnancy rates. Chatham County established Plain Talk, a program designed to instruct adults on encouraging teenagers in both health and responsibility. Chatham County has experienced a 26.3 percent drop in the teen pregnancy rate.

According to the APP press release, teen pregnancies in North Carolina have continued to decrease since 1991 after a spike in the late 1980s. The controversial practice of abortions has also decreased in North Carolina.

“I think people are becoming more aware that having an abortion is taking a life,” Every said. “There’s a lot more information out there about abortions and the potential risks.”

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services compiled data showing 58.6 of every 1,000 teen girls became pregnant in 2008. Though pregnancy rates have shown an overall decrease in the U.S., the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancies advocates that the levels are still too high.

“North Carolina has been smart to leverage investments from the General Assembly and the Centers for Disease Control to bring proven pregnancy prevention strategies to North Carolina,” said Kay Phillips, executive director of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina, in the press release. “This new data shows that we are headed in the right direction, and that we must keep pressing forward so that more communities can benefit from these tools.”

By Sarah Costello

Oct. 5, 2009

Healthcare has been a popular issue in the news since President Barack Obama’s campaign promises for reform. According to a White House Report, health insurance premiums have skyrocketed during the past 10 months in North Carolina due to the economic recession. Though premiums have been increasing since 2000, the recent jump in costs has hurt many businesses, employers and private citizens.

North Carolina families experienced dramatic health insurance premium increases during 2009 when the average annual family premium for health insurance sponsored by employers unexpectedly rose to $13,375 – a 5.5 percent increase attributed to the recent recession.

“The status quo of rising premiums is simply unsustainable for families, for businesses, for state budgets and for our national economy,” said Vice President Joe Biden in a Sept. 22 White House press release.

According to Families USA, the voice for health care consumers, health insurance premiums have been rising steadily since 2000, while N.C. wages have barely increased. Since 2000, health insurance premiums in the U.S. increased 96.8 percent while wages have only risen 18.4 percent, according to Families USA.

With thousands unemployed and little change in wage growth, employers and business owners must find methods of cutting costs by offering fewer benefits, disqualifying employees from coverage and omitting coverage of spouses and children. As a result, North Carolina families are paying higher premiums and receiving less for their money.

“Rising health care costs threaten the financial well-being of families in North Carolina and across the nation,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA in an Aug. 18 press release. “If health care reform does not happen soon, more and more families will be priced out of the health coverage they used to take for granted.”

Another underlying issue is the number of firms that continue to offer health insurance to clients. Families USA reports six percent of U.S. firms offering health insurance ceased to provide health insurance between 2000 and 2008. There is also an added risk that more families will be forced to file for bankruptcy as a result of medical debts. Medical bills contribute to half of U.S. bankruptcies, reports Families USA.

Biden met with State Insurance Commissioners on Sept. 22 to compile a new White House report about the health insurance premium increases for North Carolina residents. The document can be accessed at www.whitehouse.gov.

“The State Insurance Commissioners understand firsthand the health care crisis, and are fighting everyday to combat it and reduce unjustified premium increase,” said Biden in the press release. “But these numbers are just one more piece of evidence that we need for nationwide reform.”

By Sarah Costello

Sept. 20, 2009

healthcare

The White House has taken a firmer stance on health care coverage of illegal immigrants following Congressman Joe Wilson’s objection of “you lie!” during a joint session of Congress Sept. 9. after President Barack Obama stated the proposed health care bill would not cover illegal immigrants.

While Wilson’s comments elicited controversy and debate between both sides of the political aisle, his statement encouraged excessive media coverage and renewed study of the bill by Democrats and Republicans alike.

Hours after Obama’s speech, “The Obama Plan” was posted on www.whitehouse.gov, explaining what the proposed bill will cover, whom it will cover and how it will cover Americans.

The current debacle concerning the bill revolves around the only available public bill, H.R. 3200, which did not offer a definite explanation of illegal immigrants and health insurance coverage.

The Obama administration claims the president was referring to his proposal during his prime time speech and not H.R. 3200, but the renewed legislation has not been sent to Capitol Hill, adding to controversy and confusion.

Democrats have directed opposing factors to the current legislation that they claim will not allow illegal immigrants to access federal subsidies that low-income American citizens will qualify for, which would enable them to purchase health insurance.

On Sept. 11, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs presented stricter policies regarding health care coverage for illegal immigrants.

“Illegal immigrants would not be allowed to access the exchange that is set up,” said Gibbs.

Under the current health care system, illegal immigrants can purchase private insurance but are not allowed to access government-funded care. Under the new bill, illegal immigrants will not be given the option to purchase private insurance, a move that has many left-winged democrats and Latino coalitions in an uproar.

Image courtesy of Stop the North American Union

Image courtesy of Stop the North American Union

In fact, thousands of Latinos and blacks gathered on Sept. 9 in San Antonio to push for government-run health care. The League of United Latin American Citizens, the largest Latino civil rights organization in the U.S., met to support Obama and his proposed public option.

Many Republicans argue that illegal immigrants should not have health care coverage due to violation of set laws that forbid immigrants from entering the U.S. without proper documentation. Others are not as stringent and argue illegal immigrants are entitled to health care if given amnesty.

“If amnesty is approved through the amnesty bill then people who are current illegal [immigrants] will be legal and will be covered by the bill,” said George Padgett, a professor of media law and ethics at Elon University. “Personally, I stand on the side of being understanding and concerned about my fellow human beings regardless of who they are.”

Others view the health care coverage a matter of principle and argue that people who are living in the U.S. illegally are not entitled to health care and should not be given the benefits paid for by the government or taxes.

“I think Congress has a duty to uphold the laws of this country, which clearly prohibit illegal immigration,” said junior Nicholas Ochsner, the executive director of College Republicans. “We’re going to see an even bigger drain on the health care system if we extend health coverage to illegal immigrants.”