TOP FIVE: Teen pregnancy, teachers, insurance, youth camps, storm impact

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By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  Our weekly Top Five feature offers big stories or views from the past week or so with policy and legislative implications that you need to read because of how they could impact South Carolina.  If you have stories to suggest to our readers, send to:  feedback@statehousereport.com.

  1. Teen birth rate plummets, but STDs remain a concern in South Carolina, S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, Oct. 5, 2017.

A 67 percent decrease in teens giving birth has been reported since 1991. Pregnancies for black teenagers have declined 82 percent since that time. But more work remains as the campaign looks to reducing sexually transmitted diseases, the campaign says. An excerpt:

“As the teen birth rate continues to decline, STI and HIV rates remain an area of concern. In 2015, South Carolina ranked in the top 10 nationally for rates of Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and diagnosed HIV for all ages. From 2015-2016, South Carolina saw a 4.6 percent increase in the rate for Chlamydia, a 16.2 percent increase in the rate for Gonorrhea, while HIV prevalence saw a 22.7 percent decrease (15-19 year olds, per 100,000 population).”

  1. Four-in-five South Carolina teachers are white, Urban Institute, Oct. 6, 2016.

In S.C. schools, 32 percent of the students are black, but only 18 percent of teachers are black, according to this new report. Some other statistics:

  • 79 percent of teachers are white, while 55 percent of students are white;
  • 8 percent of students are Hispanic and 2 percent of teachers are Hispanic; and
  • 1 percent of teachers and students are Asian.

An excerpt:

“A growing body of research shows that students of color do better when they have at least one teacher of the same race. These teachers can be role models for students of color, and they have been shown to have higher expectations and a better cultural understanding of these students. A diverse teaching workforce can also benefit all students by exposing them to people from different backgrounds. Yet, the teaching workforce in the United States remains predominantly white, even as the student body grows increasingly diverse.”

  1. South Carolina is one of 15 states to file, but not pass legislation to allow out-of-state insurance purchases, National Conference of State Legislatures, Oct. 2, 2017.

Six states currently allow consumers to go beyond state lines to purchase health insurance, but South Carolina isn’t one of them — despite efforts in 2010 and 2014. (Neighboring Georgia is one of the six states.)  An excerpt:

“A growing number of state legislators have been interested in whether some states allow or facilitate the purchase of health insurance across state boundaries or from out-of-state regulated companies. NCSL’s state health insurance research and tracking shows a gradually growing number of states—at least 21 as of mid-2017—and state legislators considering this idea during the past ten years and continuing to the  present.”

  1. Number of escapes from youth camps is unknown, The Post and Courier, Oct. 8, 2010.

The Post and Courier ran several articles on Oct. 8 looking into S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice’s use of “wilderness camps” for juvenile offenders. In one of the articles, the publication reported state auditors sharply criticized DJJ and private contractor AMIkids staff for not following protocols for escapes. An excerpt:

“How often young offenders flee the remote wilderness camps remains unclear. When the newspaper requested data about escapes and assaults from 2011 to present, DJJ produced a list of 12 escapes — none from White Pines (where an incident report documents an escape).

“And in their report, auditors wrote that DJJ couldn’t readily tell them how many youth had escaped from 2011 to 2016. DJJ later provided a list of 63 — five times as many as the agency had indicated to The Post and Courier — although the auditors couldn’t verify the data’s accuracy, the report said.”

  1. Hurricanes impact jobs — but they aren’t completely to blame for weak report, Brookings, Oct. 6, 2017.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) employment report released this month showed 33,000 jobs were lost in September, but that’s not the full picture, according to Jonathan Wright of Johns Hopkins University. Wright said when the job losses and gains are adjusted for the two major hurricanes that struck the United States this year, the jobs report is still weak. An excerpt:

“A reasonable estimate of the combined effect of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on September’s employment data is roughly (negative) 100,000 jobs, which swamps the typical seasonal and weather effects. Adjusting the BLS Official number with this estimated hurricane effect yields an underlying pace of jobs growth of 67,000.”

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