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2018-5-3

GREENSVILLE/EMPORIA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

LOCAL BOARD MEETING

The Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services Administrative Board will meet on Thursday, October 18, 2017, at 3:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Greensville/Emporia Department of Social Services located at 1748 East Atlantic Street.  The public is welcome to attend.

Michael Fields

Michael Fields will be celebrated with his family on Friday, May 4th at Cornerstone Funeral Home in Nashville, NC.   Visitation will be at 12; celebration of life beginning at 1:00 with homecoming in Battleboro Cemetery.  Please feel free to join us in the celebration of our beloved STAR, Michael.    We will be accepting visitors at our home in Emporia tonight from 6 until; Thursday 12 p.m. until.  Friday, friends will be accepted at 3462 Lonesome Pine Rd, Whitakers, NC 27891 following his celebration.  He loved us all and we love you all.

Nettie Roella McDonald

Nettie Roella McDonald, 54, of Emporia, passed away unexpectedly Sunday, April 29, 2018. She was preceded in death just last month by her mother, Charlene Owen McDonald. She had been a CNA and more recently was primary caregiver for her grandmother, Roella Hines Owen and her mother until their deaths.

When Nettie wasn’t taking care of others, she had a love for drawing abstract art, photography and enjoyed doing research in the courts or the library. She also wrote poems and had become a published poet. She had a love for and communicated with all God’s creatures in the animal world.

She is survived by her siblings, Virginia E. McDonald, John “Chipper” McDonald and Sarah E. Berryman and husband, Steve; two nieces, Jessica Owen Day and husband, Ercell and Farren M. Burchett; an aunt, Geneva Owen Woodard; a number of cousins and her six loving cats.

The funeral service will be held 1 p.m. Saturday, May 5 at Owen Funeral Home, 303 S. Halifax Rd., Jarratt, Virginia where the family will receive friends 11-1 prior to the service. A reception for the family will be held at Monumental United Methodist Church following the funeral. A private interment will be held at a later date.

Online condolences may be shared with the family at www.owenfh.com

For-Profit Colleges Leave Many Students with Big Debts

By Deanna Davison and Brandon Celentano, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Higher education and the profit motive, many argue, do not mix – and students at for-profit colleges often pay the price.

ITT Technical Institute, a for-profit college institution with about 130 campuses in 38 states, shut down in September2016 after then-President Barack Obama’s administration blocked its students from receiving federal student aid. The institution had 40,000 students enrolled among all campuses when it closed.

For-profit schools have a history dating to colonial America, according to the book “Higher Ed, Inc.: The Rise of the For-Profit University.” In those days, a scarcity of places for people to receive a formal education resulted in entrepreneurs teaching practical skills and trades, as well as reading and writing.

Steve Gunderson, president and CEO of Career Education Colleges and Universities, a trade organization that represents 1,500 for-profit colleges, praised a judge’s ruling in March that said Obama’s Department of Education failed “to consider various categories of relevant evidence” in reviewing the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the largest accreditor of for-profit colleges in the U.S.

In September 2016, the Education Department removed the council’s accrediting authority, following a lengthy controversy over its capability to be an effective overseer for students and billions in taxpayer dollars.

“Yes, our sector has had bad schools like every sector of higher education,” Gunderson said in a news release. “But it is time that everyone across the political spectrum stop, step back and look for ways to work together to establish public policies that treat all sectors of higher education on a fair and equal basis.”

Government regulation of for-profit colleges has become less restrictive since President Donald Trump appointed Betsy DeVos as U.S. secretary of education. DeVos froze regulations that protected students from loan defraudment and paused the gainful employment rule, which states: “In order to be eligible for funding under the Higher Education Act Title IV student assistance programs, an educational program must lead to a degree at a non-profit or public institution or it must prepare students for ‘gainful employment in a recognized occupation.’”

According to Inside Higher Ed, Obama’s administration created the gainful employment rule to establish accountability for career education programs when they produce too many graduates with debt they cannot repay. Schools could have their federal funding eliminated if they did not meet requirements.

Democratic attorneys general in 17 states and Washington, D.C. sued DeVos in October, alleging that freezing those regulations violated federal law. The Department of Education said those allegations were “frivolous.”

Sales and recruiting techniques, specifically at ITT Tech, were discussed in a 2012 report by the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. It said that in recruiting students, ITT Tech staff members followed a script called a “Pain Funnel,” asking increasingly uncomfortable questions.

When addressing prospective students who signed an enrollment agreement but indicated they may not want to start school, ITT Tech representatives were instructed to “poke the pain a bit” and “remind them what things will be like if they don’t continue forward and earn their degrees,” the report said.

The script’s questions, designed to elicit emotional pain from prospective students, were intended to persuade vulnerable individuals to apply to the school. The pressure culminated with the question: “Have you given up trying to deal with the problem?”

ITT Tech is not the only for-profit institution to face legal action for allegedly defrauding students. In December 2016, DeVry University – an Illinois-based university with 38 campuses across the U.S., including two in Virginia – settled a lawsuit from the Federal Trade Commission that claimed the school used deceptive advertising to recruit and mislead students.

DeVry paid $100 million to the FTC: $49.4 million for students harmed by the advertisements, and $50.6 million for student loan forgiveness. All unpaid private student loans the school issued to undergraduate students between September 2008 and September 2015 were forgiven, as well as more than $20 million that students owed the school in tuition and fees.

An ITT Tech advertisement from 2007, which details the feel-good story of graduate Charlie Graves, promises viewers and prospective students the chance to attain their goals. The website of the Career Education Colleges and Universities touts similar success stories of students from diverse backgrounds who earned degrees and launched careers in fields ranging from advertising and nursing to computer science and audio production.

But critics say “success” is not the outcome for many students at for-profit colleges, particularly when it comes to loan debt.

Time magazine reported in January that more than half of borrowers – 52 percent – who attended a for-profit college in 2003 defaulted on their student loans after 12 years. Borrowers from two-year community colleges defaulted at half that rate: 26 percent.

Judith Scott-Clayton, who wrote a recent report on student borrowing for the Brookings Institution, said the high percentage of for-profit students who default on their loans does not illustrate the full scope of the issue.

For-profit colleges are generally more expensive to attend than community colleges, so more students tend to take out loans, and at higher amounts. The Brookings Institution report said its findings “provide support for robust efforts to regulate the for-profit sector, to improve degree attainment and promote income-contingent loan repayment options for all students.”

The 2012 Senate report on ITT Tech stated: “Compared to public colleges offering the same programs, the price of tuition is higher at ITT Tech. Tuition for an associate’s degree in business administration at ITT Tech’s Indianapolis campus was $44,895. The same program at Ivy Tech Community College in Bloomington, Indiana cost $9,385.”

Tuition for a bachelor’s degree in business administration at ITT Tech’s Indianapolis campus was $93,624. The same program at Indiana University in Bloomington was $43,528.

Tressie McMillan Cottom, a former admissions and financial aid counselor for ITT Tech, said she sold associate degrees for about $30,000 and bachelor’s degrees for about $60,000.

“On average, students enrolled in for-profit colleges take on student loan debt that they cannot manage,” said Cottom, now an assistant professor of sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of “Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy.”

“Whether that is because these students are more likely to be economically vulnerable or if it is because employers don’t seem to value these degrees very much, we aren’t exactly sure.”

Cottom said her work at for-profit colleges, which she discusses in her book, informed her interest. Later, she decided to do research on for-profit colleges as a sociologist because she thought the expansion of these institutions and their degrees were understudied.

She thinks it is important to keep in mind the circumstances of students who attend for-profit schools. Many individuals enrolled in such programs are people who have been disadvantaged in accessing high-quality, not-for-profit higher education, she said.

“As a sociologist, one of our long-standing disciplinary interests is in how and why inequality happens. I study for-profit colleges as a way to understand contemporary inequality,” Cottom said.

“When this [student debt] happens, people can be worse off for having pursued higher education than they would have been had they never gone to school at all.”

The National Center for Education Statistics’ most recent report on bachelor’s degree graduation rates showed a significant disparity in graduation rates for students at for-profit colleges versus not-for-profit colleges. Twenty-three percent of students at for-profit colleges graduated within six years; the six-year graduation rate for students at public not-for-profit colleges was 59 percent.

Some students who studied at for-profit institutions have said they felt they wasted their time.

Erika Colon, 35, of Boston, took out $15,000 in loans for a medical administrative assistant certificate at a campus of Corinthian Colleges. The chain of colleges closed after it was found to have misrepresented post-graduation employment statistics.

“They are just giving students high hopes for nothing and just taking people’s money,” Colon said.

‘Bamboozled’ ITT Tech Grad Saddled with Massive Debt, Subpar Degree

By Deanna Davison and Brandon Celentano, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Bobby Donovan always loved video games. The 29-year-old from suburban Hanover County played games like World of Warcraft and League of Legends daily and worked as a senior game adviser at GameStop for a few years after high school. When Donovan saw ITT Technical Institute was offering a bachelor’s degree program in video game design, he jumped at the idea.

But his hopes of attaining that degree and furthering his career did not last long. Donovan entered the program at the for-profit college’s Midlothian campus in fall 2010. By the following fall, the program had lost its accreditation and was eliminated.

Donovan said ITT Tech received late notice that the video game design program was not meeting the expectations of its accreditor. Contrary to Donovan’s belief, he was never enrolled in the bachelor’s program. Instead, he and other students in the same situation were transferred into a graphic design or visual communications program. And that program was for an associate’s degree, not a bachelor’s.

“They cut the program and never enrolled anybody into the bachelor’s program,” Donovan said. “They only enrolled people into the associate’s, so you were never on track for the bachelor’s. We didn’t know they did that. They never told us, or they never told me.”

When Donovan learned the video game design program was eliminated, he looked into transferring schools. But there was one significant issue: What he thought was his best option, ECPI University, another large for-profit institution in Virginia, would not accept his credits. He felt he had no choice but to stay at ITT Tech and complete the associate’s program, which he did. He graduated in 2012.

Donovan, who now lives in Woodbridge in Northern Virginia, estimated that he took out about $50,000 in loans to fund his associate’s degree. His loan debt is split between a federal and a private lender. Approximately $20,000 of it is from the private lender ITT Tech used, who sold Donovan’s debt to Student CU Connect in 2013. The loan has a variable interest rate that started around 12 percent but has increased to about 16 percent. It caps at 16.75 percent.

“The amount is really just unheard of for an associate’s degree,” Donovan said. “If I didn’t have student loans, I would probably have an extra $1,000 every month.”

David Hodges, 31, a former classmate of Donovan’s, enrolled in ITT Tech’s visual communications associate’s program in 2010. He withdrew from the institution after a year.

“I feel that I educated my professors more than they educated me,” Hodges said. “I enjoyed my classmates, but not the program. The art program at ITT Tech is comparable to an eighth-grade art class.”

Hodges, who lives in Richmond, is now a self-employed street artist and fine arts painter, but he said it is no thanks to his time at ITT Tech.

“I tell everyone I’m self-taught because I learned nothing at ITT Tech,” he said.

In 2014, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a federal agency founded in 2011 to protect citizens from unfair bank and lending practices, sued ITT Tech. The bureau alleged the school’s enrollment and financial aid advisors used predatory lending tactics to coerce students into costly private loans they could not afford. The lawsuit also alleged ITT Tech misled students about their post-graduation job prospects and the transferability of earned credits.

“ITT marketed itself as improving consumers’ lives, but it was really just improving its bottom line,” Richard Cordray, the bureau’s former director, said in a news release when the bureau filed the lawsuit. “We believe ITT used high-pressure tactics to push many consumers into expensive loans destined to default. [This] action should serve as a warning to the for-profit college industry that we will be vigilant about protecting students against predatory lending tactics.”

ITT Tech closed its campuses and declared bankruptcy in September 2016, after the U.S. Department of Education judged the school failed to meet accreditation standards twice that year and eliminated ITT Tech’s ability to receive federal student aid. Some students who were enrolled at the time or had recently withdrawn – within the previous 120 days – could apply for loan cancellation, but that applied only to federal loans, not private loans.

Because Donovan graduated in 2012, neither of those options applied to him. He received an email from ITT Tech on Sept. 6, 2016, explaining the school’s closure. The response blamed the federal government for forcing the school to close, Donovan said, and offered no options relevant to him other than providing information on how to obtain his academic transcript.

“The Department of Education’s August 25 letter imposed a combination of requirements on ITT Educational Services, Inc. that we believe are unprecedented in the history of the Department of Education,” the email stated. “Please know we worked diligently to identify alternatives that would have allowed you to start or continue your education at ITT Tech and earn your degree. But the Department of Education’s actions have forced us to cease operations at the ITT Technical Institutes.”

The email shared a list of schools that ITT Tech said had entered into agreements allowing students to transfer credits. The email also included a list of schools in students’ local areas or online that offered similar programs. Donovan said he thinks the schools ITT Tech mentioned were also for-profit colleges. The website is no longer active.

Donovan said his student loan debt will hang over his head for years to come. He is still motivated to earn a bachelor’s degree, but it is not feasible for him to return to school just yet.

“It’s kind of been put on the back burner after starting a family, getting a house,” he said. “[The debt] affects a lot of things – not just going back to school, but really starting my life outside of school after one huge mistake.”

He also said if he were to pursue a bachelor’s degree at a four-year school, he doubts his associate’s degree would be considered; thus, he would likely have to start over with zero credits.

“I don’t think any actual college or university will actually recognize it as a degree,” Donovan said. “But I’m not 100 percent sure. I haven’t found out yet.”

He is doubtful his associate’s degree has been valuable in his post-ITT Tech job pursuits either, he said, but he remains positive and hopeful for the future.

“The people that I met [at ITT Tech] are great people,” Donovan said. “Some of the teachers were really good. It was a learning experience. I know I’m not going to be bamboozled again.”

Dozens of Children in Virginia Are Fatally Shot Each Year

 

By Kirby Farineau, Capital News Service

RICHMOND – Around 9 p.m. on the Fourth of July in 2013, 7-year-old Brendon Mackey and his father were walking through the parking lot of the Boathouse restaurant in the Brandermill subdivision in Chesterfield County on their way to watch the fireworks display over Swift Creek Reservoir. Suddenly, the boy fell to the ground.

Bryan Mackey thought his son had tripped or passed out, and reached to pick him up. “When I had him in my hands, I looked at his face and I knew he wasn’t there,” Bryan Mackey told reporters at the time. “I could see it in his eyes, that blank look in his face.”

Brendon had been struck in the head and killed by a random bullet that authorities believe had been fired into the air in celebration. Police have yet to find the person who fired the fatal shot.

Brendon, who was about to start third grade at C. E. Curtis Elementary School in Chester, was one of more than 620 children in Virginia and 26,000 nationwide fatally shot since 1999, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Virginia victims included 80 children age 10 and younger. Three died in gun incidents before reaching their first birthday, a Capital News Service analysis of the data found. Nationally, about 3,000 children 10 and under – including more than 180 who hadn’t turned 1 – have been fatally shot since 1999.

The mass shooting that killed 14 students and three teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Valentine’s Day has propelled the debate over gun violence into the national conversation. Students who survived the massacre and their counterparts across the country have declared “Never again” and advocated for gun law reforms.

While mass shootings are relatively rare, gun-related deaths of minors – age 17 and younger – are distressingly common. In 2016, the most recent year for which data are available, 39 minors in Virginia and about 1,640 nationwide died as a result of guns.

Accidents like the tragedy involving Brendon Mackey represented 7 percent of all gun-related deaths of minors in Virginia since 1999. Thirty-seven percent of the deaths were suicides, and 53 percent were assaults. The remaining deaths were undetermined.

“Our kids have become collateral damage for the unacceptable policies of the gun lobbies,” said Lori Haas, Virginia director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Haas became involved with the issue after her daughter Emily, 19, was shot and injured in the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, when a gunman killed 32 people. When it comes to gun deaths of minors, Haas said, “Even one is too many.”

The statistics on gun-related deaths

Nationally, of every 100,000 Americans age 17 and under, two are killed by gunfire each year, according to the CDC data. In Virginia, the rate is 1.9 gun-related deaths per 100,000 minors. The highest rates in the nation are 9 deaths per 100,000 minors in the District of Columbia, 5.5 in Alaska and 4.1 in Louisiana.

The data showed a distinction between younger children and older ones. Since 1999 in Virginia:

·         139 children age 13 and under were fatally shot. About 66 percent of those deaths were classified as assaults, 20 percent as accidents and 11 percent as suicides.

·         482 Virginians between 14 and 17 died from gunfire. Almost half of the deaths – 49 percent – were assaults, 44 percent were suicides and nearly 3 percent were accidents.

Those numbers show that suicide is more prevalent among older children than younger ones – a fact underscored by the Virginia Violent Death Reporting System. That system found that Virginians age 15 to 19 were seven times more likely to commit suicide than those age 10-14.

The CDC data show that 44 percent of minors killed by guns in Virginia were African-American. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 20 percent of Virginians are African-American. This indicates that black children are fatally shot at a disproportionately high rate in the state.

The debate over gun control

In March, thousands of Virginians participated in the international March for Our Lives, protesting government inaction on gun control legislation. About 5,000 people, including students and politicians, marched on the state Capitol. The protests came after a legislative session in which members of the General Assembly clashed over dozens of bills involving gun regulation.

Lawmakers proposed more than 70 gun-related bills. Some sought to restrict access to guns, including by children. Others sought to expand gun rights, including letting people bring guns to church. In the end, only two of the bills passed. Both have been signed into law by Gov. Ralph Northam:

·         House Bill 287, introduced by Del. Marcus Simon, D-Fairfax, will create a specialty license plate with the message “Stop Gun Violence.”

·         Senate Bill 669, sponsored by Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, seeks to keep guns out of the hands of Virginians age 14 or older who have been ordered to get mental health treatment. Under this law, which took effect immediately on April 18, such individuals face restrictions on purchasing, owning and transporting firearms.

SB 669 was meant to address what Haas and other gun control proponents call “victims of access.” This is the idea that even when children are involved in gun-related accidents or deaths, they are victims of negligence by people who allowed them access to the weapons.

Del. Alfonso Lopez, D-Arlington, tried to address that issue by introducing a measure making it a Class 1 misdemeanor to knowingly give a child of 4 or younger access to firearms.

Lopez said he was motivated to sponsor House Bill 950 by the many incidents in which children in the state accidentally end up shooting themselves or others.

“Regardless of what you think about the Second Amendment, I think we can all agree that the Founding Fathers were not talking about 2- and 3-year-olds,” Lopez said.

HB 950 died in the House Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee.

Republican opposition to such legislation has largely centered on concerns over Second Amendment rights. Del. Nicholas Freitas, R-Culpeper, was one of the most vocal opponents of gun control legislation in the 2018 session.

When the debate was coming to a head in the General Assembly in March, after the Florida shooting, Freitas gave a speech defending his party’s position in the gun debate. Freitas said the ultimate goal of gun control legislation from Democrats was to “gut the Second Amendment.”

“When the policies fail to produce the results you are promising your constituents, you’ll be back with more reasons to infringe on Second Amendment rights,” Freitas told Democrats in the House.

But during the legislative session after Brendon Mackey’s death, the General Assembly was moved to action. In 2014, lawmakers passed a pair of bills making it a felony to injure someone through the reckless use of firearms.

“Any person who handles any firearm in a manner so gross, wanton, and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life and causes the serious bodily injury of another person resulting in permanent and significant physical impairment is guilty of a Class 6 felony,” the legislation stated.

The bills were aimed at preventing accidents as a result of celebratory gunfire. Supporters dubbed the legislation “Brendon’s Law.”

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