Why I Will Testify on Behalf of Expansion of Early Childhood Education

The best reason for a YES vote on the Early Childhood resolution is that YES means the voters get to decide. For more reasons, read on. Also find info on Trump’s latest, and why we need more of you at the Outreach mtg tonight. The times are desperate and it feels like Santa Fe is snoring. A march is not a movement. A movement is work. Are you game?

Roundhouse Today: Click here for a schedule of House Committees and Senate bills being voted on by the full Senate, with the session beginning at 11am.

Outreach Action Team, Tonight, 5:30-7pm, Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos, Santa Fe. Most of today’s post focuses on the Universal Early Childhood Education expansion resolution, but before diving in, I want to underscore the importance of today’s Outreach meeting. I have to be frank: as Sunday’s post made very clear, the situation is dire. Click here to review that post. It made a very strong point that the most effective thing we can do right now is to expand our base by implementing outreach strategies. Please plan to be there tonight, and RSVP on Facebook here. If you don’t have Facebook, reply to this post and let me know you’re coming. Right now there are only 30 folks signed up.

We might as well pack our bags and move to Canada if that is the best Santa Fe can do. You are the ones who need to step up, no one else will. The Roundhouse has a slew of critical bills pending, ICE is here, Trump is threatening to dismantle the EPA and ACA, a new refugee ban has been imposed, his lies and misinformation dominate the news, and as reported in Monday’s New Mexican, now private prisons are imposing forced labor on detainees awaiting deportation hearings. The only counter to this creeping fascism is you, talking with friends, neighbors, and others. And 30 of you ain’t enough. 90 minutes is what we are asking, 5:30pm-7pm today at 1420 Cerrillos. We will discuss a range of strategies to counter the mounting number of threats on all fronts. And you will leave with tools to become active that night.

Remember at the Democratic Convention when the father of the Muslim-American war hero held up the Constitution to the television and challenged Donald Trump to read it? Well that man, a citizen of the United States since 1986, has had a travel ban imposed and he can’t even go to Canada. Click here for the story on this latest insult to our constitution. Not only has Trump not looked at the Constitution, he is trampling it. And the only way to counter it is to organize, reach out, and grow our numbers. Wake up Santa Fe. Our future is on fire. Click here for details on today’s meeting and to RSVP.  

Universal Early Childhood Education. Be there tomorrow, Wed. Mar 8, 6:30pm, City Hall, 200 Lincoln Ave. Here is why you should be there and why you should contact your city councilor today. And tomorrow. 

I have thought very deeply about the Universal Early Childhood Resolution being discussed and voted on at tomorrow’s City Council meeting. I come to this issue as a public health and early childhood education researcher. I was the primary consultant and evaluator for the City of Oakland’s early childhood education program and have worked for many years with the San Mateo County Health Department and the San Francisco Department of Public Health on issues related to childhood obesity, diabetes, and hypertension. So these issues are dear to me. I think the only reason this issue is controversial is the manipulation from the beverage industry in the form of misleading ads and scripted letters to the editor from bottling plant employees and others. This is both a public health win and a win for low-income families and their children. Here is why this vote should be unanimous:

The Voters Should Decide on This, Not the Council. First and perhaps most importantly, the vote for this resolution is not really to approve expansion of early childhood education. It is to decide if the City Council trusts its constituents to decide this for themselves. This is supposed to be a democracy, and about the only place this democracy really functions right now is at the local level. I think the voters should decide on this resolution, not the City Council.  A “no” vote is like a City Councilor saying to his or her constituency, “I know better and I need to protect you from your own judgment.” For this reason alone, call your Councilors and ask them to vote “yes,” and come to the City Council meeting at 6:30pm Wednesday night. Contact info is at the bottom of this post.

No Good Reason to Delay the Vote Until March. Yes it will cost an estimated $75,000 to hold a special election this May instead of waiting until May 2018. That is about $1 per city resident with the benefit to enable 1,000 toddlers to access early childhood education a full year ahead of time. Plus, if the election is in May, this will be the only thing on the ballot so it won’t be debated among a slew of Mayoral candidates using it as a political football next year. Another good reason.

The Benefit to Children & Families. No one disputes that there is a need for expanded early childhood education or that it would benefit our community. And the committee advancing this bill has excellent documentation from the kind of research I have reviewed for years. Click this link santafeprekunmetneedreport to review a summary of the economic and child development benefits, or trust me: investment in early childhood education is one of the very best investments a community can make. 

The Soda Tax is More Reliable than Purported by Critics.  Will consumption of soda go down if the tax is implemented? Yes it will, as research from UC Berkeley below describes. Have those who drafted this resolution considered this in their funding model?  Yes, they have. Their economic analysis went into painstaking depth to consider different levels of projected reductions in consumption and in all cases, the tax would be sufficient to sustain funding. Click here: economicanalysis-december2016 to review this analysis. But just for the sake of argument, let’s say that Santa Feans cut their consumption of soda in half, a level highly unlikely, and not considered by those advancing the plan. If this level of reduction occurred it would be a public health miracle that would reduce health care costs enormously while vastly improving the health of the children and families who had reduced their consumption of soda. So in this instance, the City would have to find a way to raise a relatively small amount to sustain the program, but this great a change in the consumption habits of Santa Feans would make that well worth it. Bottom line, only a miracle would require the City to look to other funding sources. A miracle that should be welcomed by all of us. On this let me be very clear: Soda taxes have also passed in San Francisco, Oakland, and Albany, California; in Boulder, Colorado; and in Cook County, Illinois. Seattle is considering one and in each instance the purpose was to reduce soda consumption pure and simple. Why?  Drinking just 12 ounces of soda a day can increase the risk of heart disease by a third, and people who consume one to two sugary drinks per day have a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Voting for this bill will give you a two-for-one benefit, expanded childcare and reduced diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and hypertension. Why is this even a debate?

Restaurants Will Not Fold and the Bottling Plant Will Not Lay Off Staff. When people go out to a restaurant, they will get something to drink with their meal; it just may not be a zero-nutrition, sugar bomb. And if, God forbid, patrons start ordering water with their meals, restaurants will simply add 25 cents to their entrees. In 2003, the Coca Cola bottling plant ranted about how they would not be able to make a profit if Santa Fe passed a minimum wage law. Guess what, they are still bottling Coca Cola. No one is going to go broke. The threats of the widespread demise of restaurants is pure and simple beverage industry scare tactics that are being used throughout the nation (see below).

If you are still unconvinced, after Berkeley passed its soda tax in 2014, the University of California School of Public Health did a study of its impact. Click here for an article, which also includes a link to the full report, but here are some highlights.

  • Berkeley’s low-income neighborhoods are drinking 21% less soda and other sugary drinks since the tax was implemented in March 2015, while consumption of tap and bottled water increased by 63%. Why is this so important for public health and health equity? Because soda and other sugary drinks are the number-one source of added sugar in the American diet, and are linked to diabetes, heart and liver disease, and tooth decay. One-third of all children and nearly half of African-American and Latino children are predicted to develop diabetes in their lifetimes. So if we have a way to reduce this epidemic AND fund expansion of early childhood education, should we do it, or should we cow to the lies of the soda industry?
  • The beverage industry had been successful in defeating as many as two dozen soda tax initiatives in cities across the country. It has reserved roughly $9.5 million in television ad time opposing the three Bay Area soda tax initiatives, and has already spent $1 million on commercials – including $747,267 in Oakland alone. As expected, Big Soda is preying on the economic anxieties of Oaklanders by branding the initiative as a “grocery tax” that would disproportionately impact low-income residents. Sound familiar?
  • The beverage industry preys on low-income communities of color, just as the tobacco industry has. In 2013, the beverage industry spent approximately $866 million marketing soda and sugary drinks to children, especially low-income kids of color.

If you remain unconvinced, I reiterate that the single most important reason the City Council should vote yes and that you should pressure your elected officials to do so, is that this should be our decision, not theirs. To my mind, a vote No is an insult to the intelligence of our community; it is a vote that says, you are not sophisticated enough to understand this issue, let me do it for you.

I encourage Retake Our Democracy supporters to show up tomorrow like they did for the Sanctuary resolution and help those on the fence on this to get on board. Our low-income families and their little children need early childhood care expanded. Now. Click here for contact information for your City Councilors, especially if your representatives are Joseph Maestas and Ron Trujillo, as both are currently opposed.

If you care about the little democracy remaining and are offended at this, the latest of a gazillion corporate manipulations of your thinking, I encourage you to call your Councilor right now. Coca Cola has used misleading ads and they have lobbied for bills that undermine Santa Fe’s jurisdictional right to pass local taxes. And when this is passed by our City Council, I promise they will double down on deceit. And then we will need a well-organized community. So after you call your City Councilor, get ready to come to our Outreach Meeting, 5:30pm-7pm today at the Center for Progress and Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Rd.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

P.S. Hope to see you both Tuesday and Wednesday evenings.

 

3 thoughts on “Why I Will Testify on Behalf of Expansion of Early Childhood Education

  1. Paul. Than ks for your informative articles.
    I have been trying to find out the worth of the Hart family and whether their members attended, and attend public or private schools. I can’t find anything personal about them. (?)

    Like

    • Interesting thinking. To my mind, it almost doesn’t matter. This initiative will reduce consumption of soda, reduce childhood diabetes, reduce heart disease, reduce obesity, encourage drinking water, and provide high quality early childhood education for 1000 low-income kids. What’s not to like about that?

      Like

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