Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Key Words: Higher Education, University of North Carolina, Strategic Plan, Economics

It’s about the EconomyEducation – Stupid!
By: Mildred Robertson
The debate that rages over education in the U.S. harkens back to the days when Bill Clinton taunted George Bush, Sr. with the phrase:  “It’s about the Economy – Stupid,” a phrase that shaped the debates, and ultimately landed Bill Clinton in the White House. Well, it is still about the economy, but if you drill down to the core of economic issues in our country, you land soundly on education.
As Americans struggle to retool to become competitive in our new service economy, it is obvious that a critical connection exists between the economy and education. It is time we take a look at what are the essential components of a 21st Century education, and how best to deliver them. That is why it is important to pay attention to the University of North Carolina (UNC) as it prepares to devise a five-year strategic plan for the state’s 16-campus system.
The school has established a 27-member panel to forge a long-term plan for North Carolina’s premier public university. While the periodic need to examine and fine-tune the institution’s course is obvious, it seems equally obvious that a public institution’s path is best devised with input from those it affects.
A group of students calling themselves the North Carolina Student Power Union (NCSPU) thinks that UNC has missed the mark. They object to the makeup of the advisory panel, which they say lacks racial and socio-economic diversity. Pointing to retailer and Republican activist Art Pope as an example, the students say the panel predominantly consists of white men, many of whom are corporate executives and conservative politicians who have a record of opposing the creation of “a robust public education system” in the state of North Carolina.  
NCSPU wants the university to reconsider its membership and hold public meetings across the state to gather public input. It seems a reasonable request. This exercise is about more than number crunching. This group will be making decisions about who will have access to the gateway to economic prosperity in our state.
Of course, the economic realities of keeping the doors open while providing a quality product is of utmost importance. However, equally important is the need to provide a reasonable pathway to higher education for every citizen, regardless of his or her race or socio-economic background. Without equal access to higher education, it will be impossible to level the playing field in North Carolina.
There is no need to disparage those who have been selected to serve on the UNC panel. There is a need, however, to seek the diversity on the panel necessary to ensure that the five-year plan reflects the needs of the entire state, not just those as interpreted by an unrepresentative, and many times privileged few.
Economics is about education-stupid!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Key Words: North Carolina, Sample Ballot, Early Voting, Presidential Election

NC Voters can View Sample Ballots for Election
By:  Mildred Robertson

Get ready for the upcoming election by getting informed about who will appear on the ballot in your precinct. If you are a North Carolina resident, you can request a sample ballot for the November 6 election at
You will need to enter your name and date of birth to receive your precinct information, voting status and a copy of the sample ballot specific to your precinct. It is important to study the ballot carefully in order to ensure that your vote reflects your true wishes. Remember, even if you vote “Straight Party” you must still select your presidential and vice presidential preference, or else you will not have voted in that contest.
Even if voting a straight party ticket, you still need to vote for nonpartisan offices such as judges, issues or referenda. If you are unsure for whom to vote in these nonpartisan elections, you should research with the political party of your choice to learn more about the candidates whose ideologies best match your own.
If you are not registered, you still have time. The deadline to register at your County Board of Elections in North Carolina is 25 days before Election Day. If you miss that registration deadline, you still may vote at a one-stop voting site in the county where you live during the early voting period. You just have to show acceptable proof of your name and evidence that you live in the county where you wish to vote.
One-stop absentee voting in North Carolina begins on October 18, 2012 and ends on the last Saturday before the election. Contact your County Board of Elections to determine where and when Early Voting will occur in your area.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Key Words: Romney, 47%, Secret Video, Politics, Presidential Race

Romney Takes Aim at the 47%

By: Mildred Robertson
Apparently, if you support Barack Obama, you are dependent upon government and believe you are a victim. You also pay no income tax. And Mitt Romney is not worried about you, because you cannot be convinced that you should take personal responsibility for yourself.
These are not words concocted by PR spin doctors. These sentiments came directly from the candidate’s mouth at a closed-door meeting with wealthy donors. Romney has turned his assault from President Obama, and taken aim at the American public.
He flippantly dismisses the millions of hard-working Americans who work two and three jobs to make ends meet and still must rely on food stamps to feed their children. He does not acknowledge the men and women who rise from bed at an ungodly hour to prepare children for school and catch the bus or the train to work. He ignores the day laborers and service workers who have looked for jobs that pay more than the minimum wage, or offer more than 30 hours a week, but cannot find them. He cannot see the young people working at low paying jobs during the day, and attending college or trade school at night. He overlooks the older workers who have been laid off from a well-paying job only to learn that their skills are outdated and there is no place in the market for them.
Many candidates in the past have lauded this segment of America. Many, on both sides of the political aisle, have understood their plight. But not Mitt Romney. He has changed his focus of attack from President Obama toward you and me. He assumes that “average” income is $200,000 to $250,000, so if you fall below that threshold, you don’t really matter to him.  
He does not understand that the average American has to calculate how many times the family can eat out at a restaurant a month or go to the movies. He has no clue that many of us have to make choices between taking a family vacation and saving for our children’s college education. Some must choose whether to buy a new car or use that money for our retirement, all the while hoping the old clunker keeps going until we can get a little bit ahead of the monthly bills. He doesn’t understand that some of us use lay-away to ensure that we can have that special toy under the tree for our children at Christmas. This is a reality of working-class Americans that Romney cannot envision.
Romney does not understand the embarrassment of standing in a grocery line with a food stamp card, or the uncertainty of receiving an eligibility letter from the unemployment office. He actually thinks that these are conditions that some people desire.
If Romney cannot understand the circumstances under which the average American lives, how can he possibly govern in a way that is beneficial to them? If he cannot respect the circumstances of the full spectrum of American citizenry, how can he possibly represent them? If he cannot understand that every struggle is not self-inflicted and that every search for a way out is not a search for a hand out, how can he possibly be president of these United States?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Voter Suppression, North Carolina, Early Voting

Be Prepared November 6: Check Your Eligibility to Vote


By:  Mildred Robertson

Turnout is going to be a key component in the determination of our nation’s future direction as we go to the polls in November. With North Carolina established as a key battleground state, it is important that every citizen be prepared to do his or her civic duty and vote in the November 6, 2012 election.

If you are a North Carolina citizen and you are not sure whether you are registered to vote, you need to make sure. You can go online to check your eligibility at  There you can determine your eligibility, your voting history and where you are supposed to vote. After September 22, you also will be able to download a sample ballot for the November election.

In the 2008 Presidential Election it was 14,000 votes that tilted the balance in President Obama’s favor in North Carolina. New voting districts drawn by the Republican led legislature may dilute the minority vote in this year’s election and threaten North Carolina’s tenuous position as a Democratic-leaning state.  

Early voting has also been an issue across the nation. In North Carolina, one-stop absentee voting allows registered voters to go in person to their county board of elections or an alternative location to vote an absentee ballot. One-stop absentee voting is conducted starting on the third Thursday before an election and ends on the last Saturday before the election. This year, early voting will begin on October 18 and the last day to cast your early voting ballot is Saturday, Nov. 3. You should check with your county board of elections to determine early voting time, dates and locations. 

North Carolina residents should go to Enter your name, address and date of birth to access your voter information for the county in which you live. If you live in another state, check with your state board of elections to determine your eligibility and early voting options.