October 15, 2015

It's not either or

Hoppy Kercheval is a big fish in the WV media pond with his conservative commentary and news reporting for WV Metro News. Occasionally I agree with him. I remember one time when that happened we agreed in an email exchange that on such occasions we should both reconsider our opinions.

He recently wrote a commentary in which he criticizes calls to diversify WV's economy while, correctly in my view, pointing out that a major problem is our low level of educational attainment.

I would only add that doing so would be one of the best ways to diversify our economy.

(I would also point out that big corporate tax cuts, which I believe he supported in the past, have also resulted in less funding for higher ed and higher tuition costs for WV students.)

I also sorta kinda agree with his implying that state government can't do a whole lot to plan an economy. I do think, however, that it can do the kinds of things that can position an economy to grow, like having a decent infrastructure, a great educational system, a skilled workforce and a decent quality of life.

October 14, 2015

A little good news

These days, I'll take any step towards social justice as a major win. And we had one last night, when the Wood County WV school board voted 3-2 to provide free school breakfasts to all students in the county effective immediately and free lunches to all students in 14 schools with high poverty rates.

This is a big deal for several reasons:

1. Good nutrition can improve educational results and reduce discipline problems;

2. Eliminating the application process for free and reduced lunches eliminates stigma associated with poverty;

3. Providing free meals eases the burden on families struggling to make ends meet; and

4. Eliminating the application process can actually save schools money and let school nutrition staff concentrate on feeding kids rather than paperwork and bill collecting.

This victory was a long time coming. The board voted down the measure in 2012 and 2013 and many community advocates worked hard to make this happen.

October 13, 2015

Gearing up for next year

The Our Children Our Future campaign to end child poverty in WV has had quite a string of victories in WV over the last three years under widely varying political settings. Each year, the campaign votes on its top ten issues. Metro News reports on the new platform here.

This year over 2600 people connected with the campaign voted on the issues. Here's a list of the current platform in order of the votes received:

1. Mental Health Matters

2. Protecting Quality Child Care Centers

3. Right to Work is Wrong

4. Second Chance for Employment

5. Tax Reform to Protect Roads, Children, Seniors, and Jobs

6. Juvenile Justice: Redirect and Reinvest

7. Stop Meth Labs

8. Increasing Local Food Access & Profitability

9. Afterschool for All!

10. Expand Broadband Access

You can read more about the issues here.