Research by Jonathan Watts Hull

Policy Analysis | February 2014

The "Black Belt"

Jonathan Watts Hull

The Black Belt is a string of counties that stretches from east Texas, through the deep South, and up into eastern Virginia. It is the largest, poorest, most rural region in the country. While definitions vary, the region typically is considered to encompass upwards of 623 counties across 11 states, mostly rural, crossing several smaller regions, including parts of the Mississippi Delta, Coastal Plain, and the Piedmont. The Black Belt is not a contiguous region, with small breaks scattered intermittently. It is this geographic irregularity that has, in many ways, hindered the development of a comprehensive strategy to address the challenges in the region as well as the development of a regional identity, such as those that helped to steer resources to the Appalachians and the Mississippi Delta. For further information, see the 2009 SLC Regional Resource, Capital Access in the Black Belt.

Black Belt Counties in the SLC Member States

(click on headers to sort by column)

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Policy Analysis | October 2013

Passing (on) the Test: The Future of Common Core Assessments

Jonathan Watts Hull

During the past year, states' continued pursuit of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has garnered considerable attention, and not a little criticism. Among the most often raised concern is with the assessments that are considered part and parcel of the new standards. Specifically, critics are worried about the cost, practicality, frequency, and number of new consortium-crafted assessments aligned to the Common Core Standards.


States are required by federal law to assess students annually in reading and mathematics in grades 3-8, and once in high school, and publicly report the results of these assessments. School, district and state level reporting must be done on an aggregate and sub-group level, providing the public and policymakers with a snapshot of how schools are performing.

Under current federal law there has been considerable pushback over assessments, including criticism of their validity, impact on instruction, and the amount of time students spend on testing. There also are concerns that tests designed to measure student progress or diagnose children's learning needs are being applied in ways that they were not intended, most particularly to measure teacher performance.

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Policy Analysis | May 2013

The Higher Education Disconnect

Jonathan Watts Hull

Last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott told radio host Marc Bernier that the state "[w]e don't need a lot more anthropologists in the state...I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering, and math degrees." In a follow up discussion with the Sarasota Herald Tribune he elaborated that he wanted to use taxpayer dollars for education that would create jobs, and specifically, not anthropology.

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More Research by Jonathan Watts Hull

Policy Analysis | November 2012

Higher Education Finance Reform

Webinar | October 2012

Higher Education Finance Reform

Policy Analysis | June 2012

The Stafford Loan Crisis in Perspective

Policy Analysis | April 2012

Tuition Deregulation in Higher Education

Policy Analysis | February 2012

NCLB Waivers, Part Three

Policy Analysis | October 2011

NCLB Waivers, Part Two

Policy Analysis | September 2011

Higher Education Performance and Accountability

Policy Analysis | August 2011

Summer Heat and Fall Sports

SLC Regional Resource | July 2011

Food Safety: Building an Integrated System

Policy Analysis | June 2011

Race to the Top Round 3

SLC Issue Alert | June 2011

NCLB Update: The Waiver Option

Policy Analysis | May 2011

Post-secondary Access and Affordability

Policy Analysis | May 2011

Schools and Natural Disasters

Policy Analysis | April 2011

Changes in Teaching as a Profession

Policy Analysis | April 2011

School Choice and Charter Schools

Policy Analysis | March 2011

School Budgets Feeling the Pinch

Policy Analysis | March 2011

Changes to HOPE Scholarships

SLC Regional Resource | March 2011

State Section 529 Plans

Policy Analysis | October 2010

Agricultural Land Assessments

Policy Analysis | October 2010

Permanent Property Rights Task Forces

SLC Regional Resource | January 2010

Autism and Schools

SLC Regional Resource | January 2009

Capital Access in the Black Belt

SLC Issue Alert | December 2008

Mid-Year Education Budget Reductions

SLC Regional Resource | January 2008

Reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act

Policy Analysis | December 2007

School Air Quality Policies

SLC Regional Resource | June 2006

2007 Farm Bill in Context (Summer 2006 Update)

SLC Regional Resource | April 2006

Farm to School

SLC Regional Resource | July 2005

2007 Farm Bill in Context

SLC Regional Resource | January 2005

The Tobacco Buyout

SLC Special Series Report | October 2004

Doing the Math: Southern State School Finance Systems

SLC Regional Resource | December 2003

A Rural Policy for the 21st Century

SLC Special Series Report | April 2003

Filling In the Gaps: Solving Teacher Shortages

SLC Regional Resource | September 2002

Finally, the Farm Bill

SLC Regional Resource | June 2002

The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001

SLC Special Series Report | February 2002

Tobacco in Transition

SLC Regional Resource | July 2001

Contracting in Tobacco

SLC Regional Resource | October 2000

The War over Water

SLC Regional Resource | August 2000

International Trade and Agriculture

SLC Regional Resource | March 2000

Agriculture and Biotechnology

SLC Special Series Report | January 1999

Language Diversity in Southern Schools: The Growing Challenge