Posts Tagged ‘ politics ’

Preschool Access Growing Across the U.S.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

As growing numbers of politicians embrace the issue of enabling every child to have access to preschool education, the push is taking root in virtually every region of the country, even in states that had previously objected to the idea.  The New York Times reports:

With a growing body of research pointing to the importance of early child development and its effect on later academic and social progress, enrollment in state-funded preschool has more than doubled since 2002, to about 30 percent of all 4-year-olds nationwide. In just the past year, Alabama, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana and the city of San Antonio have enacted new or expanded programs, while in dozens of other places, mayors, governors and legislators are making a serious push for preschool.

In New York City, where the new mayor, Bill de Blasio, was elected on a promise of universal prekindergarten, the dispute between him and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is not over whether to expand the program, but how.

For generations, it was largely Democrats who called for government-funded preschool — and then only in fits and starts — and that remains the case in Congress, where proposals have yet to gain traction among Republicans. But outside Washington, it has become a bipartisan cause, uniting business groups and labor unions, with Republican governors like Rick Snyder of Michigan and Robert Bentley of Alabama pushing some of the biggest increases in preschool spending.

“It’s a human need and an economic need,” said Mr. Snyder, who raised preschool spending by $65 million last year and will propose a similar increase this year, doubling the size of the state program in two years. He called the spending an investment whose dividends “will show up for decades to come.”

Analysts also see politics behind the shift at the state level, with preschool appealing particularly to women and minorities, groups whose votes are needed by Republicans.

“If you cast it as an issue of inequality, Republicans get their back up right away, but there’s a sincere and growing concern on the part of a lot of Republicans about how to increase economic opportunity,” said Ron Haskins, co-director of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution and a former policy adviser to President George W. Bush. “And politically, they also really want to change their image as the party that just says no, to find something with broad appeal that they can say yes to.”

Few government programs have broader appeal than preschool. A telephone poll conducted in July for the First Five Years Fund, a nonprofit group that advocates early education programs, found that 60 percent of registered Republicans and 84 percent of Democrats supported a proposal to expand public preschool by raising the federal tobacco tax.

Image: Preschool blocks, via Shutterstock

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Congresswoman to Have Record Number of Kids While in Office

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington state Republican member of Congress, is pregnant with her third child, which will make her the lawmaker who has given birth to the most children while in office.  She is already the record-holder for having had her first two children while in office.  More from Today.com:

It’s all pretty surprising for the Washington state Republican, who wasn’t even married when she first got elected to Congress in 2004.

“I went through a time when I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’ll be single for the rest of my life,’ because I wasn’t getting a lot of dates,” she told TODAY.com.

The highest ranking GOP woman in Congress, McMorris Rodgers currently chairs the U.S. House Republican Conference, the body responsible for electing that chamber’s leadership. When she announced her pregnancy, she promised that neither her political duties nor her re-election campaign would be affected.

“I think it’s becoming more and more accepted,” she said. “As more women serve in Congress, you’ll see it will become more common for women to have babies while they’re serving. It’ll become easier in that people probably just won’t think as much about it.”

Image: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, via http://mcmorris.house.gov/

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The Top Parenting News Stories of 2012

Monday, December 31st, 2012

As we turn our calendars to 2013, it’s only natural to look back at the year we’re leaving behind.  To that end, Parents.com has published our picks for the top parenting stories of 2012.

Because the piece was written by your very own Parents News Now blogger, I can share with you that the original list contained 11 stories, on topics ranging from autism to to politics to vaccinations and food safety.  As the year drew to a close, though, the scandal that led to the resignation of Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, and the unspeakable tragedy of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, necessitated last-minute additions to the feature.

Click here to see the full list of the top 13 parenting news stories of 2012

Wishing you all a peaceful, joyful 2013, and looking forward to continuing to provide you with the news that affects you, your children, and your families.

 

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What I Will Teach My Children About Our President (OPINION)

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

The editors of Parents.com have been reporting on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we chose three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them offered a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)

By Amy Julia Becker

Yesterday, I tried to talk to my kids about the election.

William, who is four, was setting out a game based on Richard Scarry’s Busytown. “So, William, do you know there’s an election tomorrow?”

He shook his head.

“Do you know who our President is?”

“Obama,” he said, without looking up, placing Huckle and Sally into their respective holders.

“Do you know what the President does?”

He shook his head again. “Mom,” he said, finally meeting my eyes. “I’m ready.”

I abandoned the conversation.

When Penny, who is almost seven, came home, I said, “Pen, do you know there’s an election tomorrow?”

She looked at me earnestly but also shook her head.

“Do you know who our President is right now?”

“Barack Obama.”

She went on to tell me that he should be president again because she loves him. She also made it clear that she has no idea what a President does, and when I mentioned that he lives in Washington, D.C., she promptly pointed to the state of Washington on the map of the United States. Clearly our family civics lessons are not up to par.

But then I thought back to my own childhood, and I realized that although I had a vague awareness of the Reagan/Mondale contest in 1984, the first election I can remember with any detail was in 1988, when I was eleven years old. One of my father’s best friends was working for the Dukakis campaign. My father is a lifelong Republican, so I was intrigued by the dinner conversations between these two. Up until then, I recall no interest in or even awareness of the political life of this nation. My kids may well be following in my footsteps.

After months of attending to this campaign, I plan to vote for President Obama today, and I hope I will have occasion to explain my choice to Penny and William in the years to come. I am voting for Obama because I think he is the more credible of the two candidates, given Romney’s history of equivocation on abortion, health care, and clean energy. I am also voting for Obama because I am liberal enough to support (in broad terms) his economic policies and health care reforms, and because I am conservative enough to think a transition will be more disruptive to our economy than a continuation of the past four years. Not only will I vote for Obama, but I think he will win, and I look forward to talking to my children about his victory.

But if Romney wins today, what I want my kids to understand won’t differ much. Although I suspect that Obama and Romney are more similar on many issues than their campaigns and fervent supporters might want, I know they are different men with different backgrounds and different policy positions. The reason my words to our children won’t change is that no matter who holds the office of the President, no matter their policies on economics or education or international relations, we will continue to live in the United States of America. And I will teach my children to be proud and grateful that they are growing up as citizens of this nation, no matter which man becomes the next President.

The wonder of American elections is that we routinely watch power transfer from one party to the next without fear of bloodshed. Sure, politics in America can look ugly. We’ve endured an election filled with attack ads that misrepresent both men’s positions. We’ve heard accusations of communism and racism and elitism. And yet Election Day comes, and each and every adult citizen of this nation has the opportunity to cast their vote, to participate in choosing the one(s) who will lead us for the next four years.

It will be a while before I’m talking with my children about the Constitution, or checks and balances, or the philosophical role government should play in the lives of ordinary people. But as a parent, I am relieved to think that I will go to bed tonight without fear. No matter who comes to power, our country will not erupt into civil war. No matter who comes to power, ethnic or religious groups opposed to the person in power will not be targeted for elimination. No matter who holds the highest office in the land, we will still share in common our constitutional rights, our declaration that each and every human being has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

As my children get older, I hope I will do my part to educate them about American history and politics and economics and social issues. I hope they will watch Presidential debates and argue with me and with one another when it comes to defense spending and the minimum wage and abortion rights. But I’m also glad that they don’t need to pay attention to this election. I am grateful to be a citizen of the United States of America, and to rest secure in the integrity of this union, come what may.

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Parental Voting Predicts Kids’ Future Participation

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

The single greatest predictor of whether a child will vote when he or she reaches age 18 is whether or not the child’s parents voted in the most recent election, a new study has found.  More from The Washington Post:

The single best predictor of whether a person will vote when first eligible and will later become a lifelong voter comes down to one discreet action by that person’s parent: Whether that parent voted in the presidential election just before their child could vote.

That’s one of the takeaways from a long-term study of families nationwide that has shed some of the only light political scientists have on parent-child political influence.

Laura Stoker, a political scientist at the University of California, Berkeley who co-directs the study, told me that a parent’s vote at the time of adolescence is the only consistent variable in any analysis of predicting whether a young adult will vote.

The study, which Stoker joined mid-way through, began in 1965, when another political scientist, Kent Jennings, interviewed more than 1,660 high school seniors and their parents about their political leanings, participation and affiliation.

Researchers then reinterviewed the group in 1973, when the younger subjects were 26; in 1982, when they were 35; and in 1997, when they were 50. The last year, researchers also interviewed the third generation.

Image: Election ballot, via spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

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