Monica Potts

Monica Potts is an Arkansas-based writer, currently writing a book about the women of her rural hometown.

Recent Articles

Time to Pass Paid Sick Leave Bills.

Connecticut might be closer to passing a bill that would require employers to provide paid sick leave, an effort that is similar to a bill proposed in the fall by Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd. But the Senate is tied up with bigger bills. The Connecticut Business and Industry Association helped stop the bill the last time it passed committee, and, as Daniel Schwartz at the Connecticut Employment Law Blog notes, the bill might not have a better chance in the state General Assembly this time around. It's easy to see why businesses would be against such a bill, since at first blush it looks like a higher cost, but it's hard to see how legislators can justify voting against it. As Shani O. Hilton wrote on the blog in the fall, only 40 percent of private-sector workers have paid sick leave. And as Jodie Levin-Epstein wrote a few years ago, more flexible workplaces, including those that allow sick leave, are better for businesses too. Employers like to think of low-income workers as...

Providing a Benchmark.

States may soon adopt national core standards for education that were designed by state governors and state school leaders, The Washington Post reports . It's part of President Obama's efforts to improve academics across the country. When the No Child Left Behind Act tried to make schools accountable for educating their students, perhaps the biggest misstep was penalizing schools that failed and relying on school choice and competition as the mechanisms for school improvement. That led to some states lowering their standards, since easier tests would be easier for students to pass, thus preventing a school from being labeled as failing. Part of the backlash against No Child Left Behind has been criticism that teachers can best determine what and how their students can learn, and some are now trumpeting the idea that a sense of community might matter more than providing school choice. But those can still be valued while recognizing there are national standards toward which every school...

Using Discretion to Profile.

The Post and Courier in South Carolina recently ran an article on accusations of racial profiling in North Charleston. In that city, police pull black drivers over more often, and black men are twice as likely to be pulled over than white men, the article says, citing police statistics. While African Americans made up 45 percent of the population, they accounted for 65 percent of the traffic stops in which no one is arrested or given a ticket. That led to accusations of racial profiling, and the police chief, Jon Zumalt responded with the usual: Police officials insist it's a reflection of a strategic, zero-tolerance crackdown on crime in several troubled neighborhoods where the population is predominantly black and where blacks commit the majority of crimes. Zumult said the strategy of pulling people over for minor infractions has helped reduce the crime rate by 30 percent over the past three years, and the city's mayor says he thinks communities should be happy that fewer black...

Helping HBCUs.

Via RaceWire , Obama has signed an executive order to bolster federal support for historically black colleges and universities: Obama says these schools have felt the pain of the recession (and his own cuts last year) the most because they enroll a higher proportion of low and middle-income students. His order includes $850 million which will ensure students can afford a college education and HBCUs can improve and expand facilities. That's especially important because the recession has hit these colleges especially hard, says The New York Times . Not only do they have a higher proportion of disadvantaged students than primarily white institutions, but they start off with smaller endowments. Helping low-income students go to, and stay in, college is a good goal. And making sure HBCUs get a fair share of federal help is an even worthier one. -- Monica Potts

The Oscar Win for Women.

Last night, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win an Academy Award for best director, and her film, The Hurt Locker became the first female-directed movie to take home the best picture award. It was a big relief that the artfully constructed film -- albeit a possible propaganda machine -- and Bigelow both won over the blockbuster monstrosity Avatar . But her win, to some extent, was overshadowed by that of Sandra Bullock . I have nothing against Bullock, since I've followed her career since Love Potion #9 , but her performance as a smart-talkin' housewife who takes a neglected child under her wing in The Blind Side is the kind of cliche we always reward women for. It shows how Hollywood normally thinks of women: types who like to wear pretty dresses and meet their friends for lunch, and the female viewers who like to watch women talking to their friends at lunch. Occasionally, as with Bullock's character, they're also so spunky they can get what they want, but usually their...