State Capitol, Olympia
This event is free and lunch is provided.
One education advocate asserts that school districts can do more for academic success by strengthening early learning. The Children’s Alliance endorses Initiative 502 to lessen the inequitable impact of marijuana enforcement policy on families, the Seattle Times asks voters to approve Referendum 74 in support of family values and The News Tribune calls Initiative 1185 “inherently democratic.” In other news, a nurse says extending Medicaid to more Washingtonians will save state dollars. And in national news, one advocate speaks up for families that would be hit hard by deep cuts to food stamps proposed in the House Farm Bill.
Increasingly, elementary schools are embracing their role as partners in children's early learning -- the years from birth through age 8. Rather than taking on the job of educating young learners as they enter kindergarten, disconnected from what came before, districts can, and must, work shoulder to shoulder with those who care for and teach children prior to kindergarten. … In Washington state, and across the nation, there is considerable movement toward this shared responsibility for early learning, which we often refer to as P-3. (The "P" stands for pre- and "3" stands for third grade.) P-3 efforts aim to integrate learning across a child's first eight years -- a unique developmental period in which children experience their most profound growth cognitively, socially and emotionally. For visionary districts, the question is no longer why would we do this, but why wouldn't we?
I want to clarify that the Children’s Alliance respects and values the independence of our members. We do not portray or imply that organizational members of the Children’s Alliance hold the same positions on public-policy matters that we do. We respect that there are a variety of well-considered opinions on Initiative 502. After much study, we concluded that current marijuana-enforcement policy is failing children and families, and that I-502 is necessary to eliminate one source of the impact of racial disparities that are currently harming Washington’s children, particularly children of color.
Washington voters have been asked to approve a law that celebrates the family values that empower the state and respects religious freedom. They should vigorously approve Referendum 74 and legalize same-sex marriage.
A two-thirds majority requirement is inherently undemocratic. It effectively gives opponents of a tax proposal twice the voting power as its supporters. The citizens behind the opposition get twice the political power as those who favor the tax.
Medicaid expansion will provide health coverage for 328,000 Washingtonians and give them access to cost-effective primary care rather than relying on emergency rooms for basic needs. It will cover senior adults and working families who have been falling through the cracks. That means more people will receive primary care — insulin for diabetics, inhalers for asthma, whooping cough vaccinations, cancer screenings and mental health services — which ultimately saves all of us dollars and lives.
Neither a law passed by initiative nor even a law passed the legislature itself can tinker with the power of majority legislative law making that is laid in our foundational rules of representative democracy. This holding seems axiomatic: If a representative democracy is to function, accountability lies in electing and un-electing our representatives, not in empowering minority factions to paralyze a legislature’s ability to make the laws.
If we want better students, less crime, healthier bodies and lower medical costs, we need to protect and nurture children's developing minds and bodies from the very start, as they are being formed. Every year there is more evidence of the effectiveness of home-visitation programs, such as the Nurse-Family Partnership, in which nurses work with parents during pregnancy and after to ensure the best outcomes for children. It's cheaper to steer kids away from crime than to lock them up after the damage has been done.
Washington state is one of 18 states and one territory to get federal dollars for nutrition programs in public schools. Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan on Friday announced new grants to support schools as they strive to improve school nutrition and exercise levels for students. “When we serve our children healthy school meals, we’re making a critical investment in their academic performance, their physical health, and their future,” Merrigan said in a press release. Funded in support of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the Team Nutrition training grants will assist schools in meeting the new school meal requirements, encourage participation in a “healthy schools” challenge and create school cafeteria environments that promote healthy menu choices.
There is a big difference between condoning marijuana use and protecting children from drugs [“Children’s Alliance backs pot measure,” page one, Sept. 11]. Decriminalization acknowledges the social reality of marijuana and frees users from the stigma of life-shattering criminal records. What’s really needed is a fully legal, regulated market with age controls as provided for in Washington Initiative 502.
Congress should pass a farm bill that does not cut help to struggling families from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. For four decades, the food stamp program—now known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP—has enjoyed strong bipartisan support and has been a bulwark for millions of Americans facing hunger. It provides targeted assistance to help very low-income people, and it responds rapidly in times of economic downturns or natural disasters. It's a program that's been working well, yet both the Senate and House Agriculture Committee proposals for the farm bill would cut the program. … Such proposals wholly ignore the reality of life for millions of people in this weak economy.