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So you know the right-wing-talk radio-NC General Assembly leadership talking point  by now: “Unemployed North Carolinians don’t need unemployment insurance or other safety net programs; they just need to get out there and get a job! If people would just suck it up like people did in the good ol’ days, we wouldn’t have 9% unemployment in this state.”

There are so many offensive and absurd implications of this “argument” that it’s hard to know where to begin in responding to it. One obvious place, however, is this:

What about the kids?

How does a person with young children at home go about taking on just any low-wage, hamburger-flipping job? Amazing as it many seem to folks on Right-Wing Avenue, not every parent of young children has a grandparent hanging around waiting to help raise their kids for free. These people need affordable child care.

Sadly, this obvious truth that long ago dawned on the leaders of most of the world’s industrialized nations still escapes the corporate conservatives who dominate American government. For a case in point, check out NC Policy Watch reporter Sarah Ovaska’s story this morning over on the main PW site.  As Sarah reports, Read More

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If Sarah Ovaska’s story about the absurdity of Time Warner Cable going all Barney Fife on an undocumented woman in Burlington isn’t enough to convince you of the need for real immigration reform in 2013, then check out this new report from the good folks at the Immigration Policy Center.

It’s entitled “Falling through the cracks” and it documents the impact of our nation’s broken immigration system and enhanced deportation policies on millions of innocent kids who find themselves separated (or at risk of becoming separated) from their parents. To quote the report: Read More

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The good folks at a group called North Carolina Focus on Increased Education Leadership & Dignity (NC FIELD) are raising up an issue that deserves your attention year-round, but especially at Thanksgiving time: the plight of farmworkers and farmworker children. This is from an email the group sent out today:

“Tomorrow we remember the struggles of newcomers and the generosity of strangers….In eastern North Carolina, in just one county where some farmworker youth organizers live and work, the economic impact of agriculture is estimated at 30%. The jobs are some of the most dangerous in our nation, pay no overtime, legally employ children, and expose workers regularly to dangerous chemicals. The labor force responsible for that windfall is largely invisible, poverty-stricken, and as young as twelve years old.” Read More

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The Guv expands Pre-K. This is from the good folks at the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children:

Perdue expands NC Pre-K to 6,300 additional children
Decision is first step to comply with court mandate

RALEIGH – This morning, Governor Perdue announced that she will make NC Pre-K available to an additional 6,300 children. This move marks the state’s first attempt to comply with the recent Court of Appeals ruling that no at-risk child shall be denied access to NC Pre-K. Currently, there is a waitlist of 11,678 children for the program.

“Governor Perdue’s decision means that over 6,000 more children will enter Kindergarten better prepared to succeed in school and in life,” stated Rob Thompson, Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children. “We hope that the legislature will extend funding for these slots when it reconvenes in January.” Read More

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If you’re looking for a concise and common sense explanation of why North Carolina needs to invest more rather than less in pre-Kindergarten programs, read this op-ed by a Wake Forest educator named Kim Hughes in this morning’s edition of Raleigh’s News & Observer.

As Hughes’ piece makes clear, every day that North Carolina waits to create a truly universal and free pre-K program is another in which we have failed to do what we need to do to secure our future.