In this edition, you’ll find an Op-Ed written by Linda Stone, senior food policy coordinator at the Children’s Alliance, urging Congress to keep kids healthy and ready to learn by reauthorizing the Child Nutrition Act with an increase of $1 billion per year over 10 years. You’ll also find editorials on the questions Governor Gregoire is asking to guide challenging state budget choices.
Right now Congress has a once-every-five-year opportunity to improve the quality of school, child-care and summer meals and make them available to more children. Linda Stone, senior food policy coordinator at Children's Alliance, writes in support of the call that President Obama and anti-hunger experts have made for Congress to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act with an increase of $1 billion per year over 10 years.
The state budget – already a disaster last winter – now borders on catastrophe. The responsible action is exactly the one lawmakers are doing their best to avoid: Coming back to Olympia with solutions. State revenues are getting slammed from three directions. First, there’s the $480 million in expected federal bailout money the 2010 Legislature built into its budget. So far, Congress has not delivered, and there’s a big chance it won’t deliver.
Gov. Gregoire is using a set of eight questions to help guide difficult budget choices, questions focusing on fiscal responsibility (Is the service essential? Can it be provided by others? Should users help pay for it?), efficiency and performance. Answers will be useful if they provide real direction for how state government can do less overall, while protecting its paramount duty: educating the state’s children. We would include early learning and higher education as imperatives for future growth and prosperity.
A philosophical question: How much medical training is needed to treat patients? Some say it’s the full course as proscribed by existing medical, nursing or dental schools. But when the shortages of doctors, nurses and dentists are ginormous, does the need require a different answer? Consider oral health. “Shortages of dental practitioners and affordable dental care are hurting the health of millions of Americans, many of whom live with pain, miss school or work, and, in extreme cases, face life-threatening medical emergencies that result from dental infections. The situation is particularly severe for poor children and families and in communities of color,” writes Burton L. Edelstein, DDS.
USA TODAY's recent editorial on the Head Start program contained some good points about the importance of early childhood education for children from low-income families ("Fix Head Start before throwing more money at it," Our view, Early education debate, July 13). The Obama administration agrees, and Head Start is an essential part of our broader early learning agenda to put America's most vulnerable children on a path to opportunity.