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Building a bridge between academics and policy makers is the aim of a new journal published by Old Dominion University.

The Journal of Race and Policy, edited by Michael L. Clemons, associate professor of political science and geography and director of ODU's Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, recently published its first edition. Jie Chen, professor of political science and geography, serves as associate editor.

To be produced annually during the spring/summer by the institute, the journal is an interdisciplinary forum for the presentation of research in the areas of education, employment, health care, citizen participation, scholarly investigation and social justice. Its publication is supported by a gift to the university from Frank Batten, the founder of Landmark Communications.

Clemons says the publication is unique among American scholarly journals in addressing issues of race and policy. "A lot of times, we don't communicate," he said of scholars and public officials. "A major thrust of the journal is going to be to bridge that gap."

The first issue has eight articles -- several by ODU faculty members -- all of which are timely in their subject matter.

One article, "Beyond the Race Gap in Education: The Status of African-American Education in South Hampton Roads" by ODU's Gail Singleton Taylor, analyzes results from Virginia's Standards of Learning tests and says that, judged on SOL test scores alone, the educational prognosis of African American students in the region is bleak.

Despite some evidence of a decrease in the racial academic gap, Taylor writes that data exist which point to the deficiency of the tests themselves. High-stakes tests have been considered by some as culturally biased, statistically weak and shame-inducing for the purpose of maintaining a low-wage work force. It would be a mistake to accept these scores wholesale and not be aware of some of the political motivations behind their reportage, Taylor says.

In "Peanuts, Pigs, Trash and Prisons: The Politics of Punishment in the Old Dominion and Sussex County," Adolphus G. Belk Jr. of North Carolina's Winthrop University discusses what he calls the "prison-industrial complex" and says that Virginia is new to the connection. He argues that prisons have more to do with profits -- both financial and political -- and social control of the poor than with crime, rehabilitation or justice.

The article considers the impact the complex has had on the political, social and economic well-being of communities -- like Sussex County, Va. -- in which prisons are located, and Belk reports mixed results on the benefits of being a"prison town."

Other articles include: "Black State Legislators Addressing Post-Welfare Reform: Rhetoric or Responsiveness?" by Randolph Burnside of the University of Mississippi and Virginia Haysley-Jordan of James Madison University, and "Competence Across the Life Span: A response to the HIV/AIDS Dilemma" by ODU's Richardean Benjamin and Vanessa Sheppard of Georgetown University.

Clemons wrote one article titled "Political Support, Discrimination and Power: Exploring the Effects of Race and Empowerment." Other articles address race, biology and public health research; and race in higher education by authors from the universities of Pennsylvania and Oregon.

The journal is currently accepting manuscripts for its 2006 issue, which will deal with the correlation between race and policy formation, implementation and results, and for the 2007 issue, which will focus on Asian Americans. Research dealing with race and its impact on social resource allocation and considered policy-oriented solutions for identified problems are of particular interest. Research is invited on an ongoing basis for a special section addressing the status of race and policy in Hampton Roads and the commonwealth of Virginia.

Subscription rates are $40 a year for institutions, $25 for individuals and $15 for students. For more information, contact Clemons by phone at (757) 683-5586 or 683-3841 or by e-mail at mclemons@odu.edu.

This article was posted on: May 24, 2005

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