Welcome to the Stateside Dispatch, Progressive States Network's weekly newsletter! Here is the latest roundup of news and developments worth knowing.
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Spotlight On Progressive Leaders
Champions Of Early Childhood Education
Preschool helps our youngest children get ready to learn on their first day of school, giving them a strong start in life -- a goal widely shared by experts, advocates, parents, and the American public at large. That is why more than 500 state lawmakers from 49 states signed a letter urging Congressional budget writers to invest in early childhood education, including more than 25 members of the PSN Public Education Working Group. Signers include Working Group Chair Arkansas Sen. Joyce Elliott, Georgia Sen. Nan Orrock, Rhode Island Rep. Frank Ferri, and Wisconsin Assemblyman Mandela Barnes. PSN Board Chair Iowa Sen. Joe Bolkcom and Board Member Washington Sen. Karen Keiser signed as well. Last night, Congressional budget negotiators announced a federal budget agreement and the legislative text, which is still undergoing analysis.
Making The Health Care Law Work
Georgia House Minority LeaderStacey Abrams' advocacy of the Affordable Care Act is generating buzz, including this recent Huffington Post profile: "Top Georgia Democrat Fights To Prove Obamacare Can Overcome Deep South Resistance."While the health care law still faces unfriendly attitudes in some states, polling has shown that Medicaid generates strong support even in the Deep South.
Moreover, state leaders' commitment to the issue and ongoing efforts all matter; the stark contrasts in the ACA experience in Kentucky versus Alabama and Minnesota versus Wisconsin are prime examples. Expect to see more concerns raised about state-level resistance to expanding Medicaid, especially in light of news that Iowa is now accepting federal dollars to do so.
The Right Calls On Education News & Reform
Responding to the PISA education scores released on Dec. 3, Florida Sen. Dwight Bullard rightfully cautioned against misleading conclusions and called on stakeholders to identify the PISA results' true lessons. As he noted, "the real crisis in Florida is the deep inequality between our wealthiest and poorest students" -- a problem magnified in the state due to its high poverty levels and low investments in education. When the problem is correctly identified, the right solutions follow -- as well as what would be helpful to achieving them and what wouldn't, such as data on teachers that are of questionable value and a fixation on punitive testing that even China is trying to move away from.
Don't Miss It
Newtown Vigil. On December 14, one year will have passed since the Newton massacre. To honor the Sandy Hook families and all gun violence victims, the Newtown Foundation in partnership with the National Cathedral and Faiths United Against Gun Violence are holding a National Vigil for All Gun Violence Victims on Thursday, December 12. The event in Washington, DC, will take place at the National Cathedral.
Minimum Wage. The Center for American Progress Action Fund released a new report affirming that a higher minimum wage would be good for the country. According to the analysis, policymakers should feel confident that raising the minimum wage would not hurt employment rates. In fact, raising the floor of wages would boost economic growth by putting more money in the pockets of workers and consumers, who then plow the money right back into our economy. A higher minimum wage comes with indirect benefits as well, including lower employee turnover, lower costs for taxpayers, and greater competition among businesses based on doing right by their employees.
Nelson Mandela. The world came together to mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela and to celebrate his life, in words and tribute. Mandela, one of the greatest leaders of our time, longer walks among us, but his extraordinary legacy continues to inspire and captivate -- within his own nation and far beyond. Here are just a few of his quotes to remember:
"A nation should not be judged by how it treats its highest citizens, but its lowest ones."
"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."
"Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice."
"People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love."
"But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended."