Equal Time: Why universal pre-K may help stem crime

 

As Congress deliberates this week on what should be included in the reconciliation bill, child care and specifically universal pre-K is being debated. Educators, parents and doctors have long advocated for pre-K. Another group has added its voice to the chorus: law enforcement.

Mary C. Curtis sits down with Sheriff Vernon Stanforth, the president of the National Sheriffs’ Association, to discuss how early education helps develop life skills.

Will those who yell the loudest teach kids how the world really works?

We teach our children lessons about leading with empathy and intelligence, about taking the high road, about playing fair. And we warn them that bullies never win in the end. Be the bigger person. Follow the right and righteous path, and you shall be rewarded.

But the examples being set on very public stages tell an entirely different story, one that says accumulating power is the goal, with no guardrails on how you acquire and keep it. Rules are for suckers, unless you’re the one who makes them.

Take voting rights. If the goal of our democracy is to let all eligible Americans vote and for every one of those votes to count, the Freedom to Vote Act would have had a clear glide path to passage. But when, as promised by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the compromise bill massaged by holdout West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin was brought to the floor Wednesday, not for a vote but for a mere discussion, Republicans offered no help.

How far Democrats will go to pass rules that creep toward restoring parts of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, obliterated by the Supreme Court, is uncertain. But for anyone interested in a true representative form of government in the United States, something is needed.

What keeps the White House COVID-19 task force chair up at night?

ary C. Curtis, host of the Equal Time podcast, usually ends her show by sharing what’s keeping her up at night. This past week, she posed the same question to Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the White House’s COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force and associate dean for health equity research at the Yale School of Medicine.

Here’s a transcript of that conversation, edited for clarity and brevity, on the latest on COVID-19 and equity:

Local News Roundup: redistricting continues, another high school lockdown, new nondiscrimination ordinance for Mecklenburg

On the Local News Roundup, the redistricting process continues for state and local elections. Legislators get into the nitty-gritty of drawing state Senate and House districts while Mecklenburg County Commission reviews three possible maps for local districts.

A local Charlotte high school goes on lockdown after a gun is found on campus. One student is arrested and charged following a shooting near the school.

Volleyball players at Olympic High are benched for participating in a protest over sexual assault.

And, Mecklenburg County passes its own LGBTQ nondiscrimination ordinance.

Our roundtable of reporters fills us in on those stories and more.

Guests

Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

Nick Ochsner, WBTV’s executive producer for investigations & chief investigative reporter

‘White folks don’t care about dead Black and Brown people like they ought to’

It has been more than a year since the killing of George Floyd sparked cries for police reform and even defunding. But it has all but stalled on the national level as time has passed and as the FBI reports a historic rise in murder rates.

Mary C. Curtis speaks with author and professor David Kennedy, director of the National Network for Safe Communities, to understand why and what the next steps should be. Also, ‘Equal Time’ checks in on COVID-19 vaccine equity with Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, who leads President Joe Biden’s health equity task force.

Pairing leadership with justice: Is that so hard, Washington?

It was an example of leadership and justice. California Gov. Gavin Newsom, fresh off surviving a recall vote, was not laying low but standing in front of cameras, signing a bill that would return prime property in Manhattan Beach — known as Bruce’s Beach — to descendants of the Black couple who had been run off the land they owned close to a century ago.

It turns out the very white Manhattan Beach was not always that way; the transformation was not by coincidence, but by design.

“As governor of California, let me do what apparently Manhattan Beach is unwilling to do: I want to apologize to the Bruce family,” said Newsom, as reported in the Los Angeles Times. He then handed the signing pen to Anthony Bruce, whose great-great-grandparents, Willa and Charles Bruce, had once turned the lovely stretch along the water into a needed getaway for African Americans, complete with lodge, cafe and dance hall.

Newsom wasn’t standing alone, literally or otherwise. Behind stood activists with organizations such as Where Is My Land, co-founded by Kavon Ward and Ashanti Martin, who have worked hard and know that the meaning of the word “reparations,” so feared in some circles, is merely “the making of amends for a wrong one has done.”

Local News Roundup: Charlotte’s Redistricting Maps Unveiled; COVID-19 Update; Streetcar’s Low Ridership

Charlotte’s redistricting process progresses this week as City Council’s committee on redistricting releases three possible maps for public review. We’ll talk about what the maps look like and what council members said.

North Carolina, as a state, is also preparing for redistricting. We’ll hear what people had to say at a recent public meeting on the topic.

After Latta Plantation closed earlier this year following concerns about an event planned around the Juneteenth holiday, the county is discussing the future of the historic site. We’ll talk about the group that has been assembled to figure it out.

This week, 375 employees from Novant Health were suspended for not following the company’s COVID-19 vaccine policy. We’ll talk about what will happen to those workers and give an overall update on the virus, the vaccine and compliance in our region.

Charlotte’s new, free streetcar’s ridership is low, so will they start charging people to ride? The city holds a public hearing to get consensus.

Mike Collins and our roundtable of reporters delve into those stories and all the week’s top news on the Charlotte Talks Local News Roundup.

GUESTS:

Erik Spanberg, managing editor for the Charlotte Business Journal

Mary C. Curtis, columnist for Rollcall.com, and host of the Rollcall podcast “Equal Time”

Steve Harrison, WFAE’s political reporter

Joe Bruno, WSOC-TV reporter

‘It’s always urgent when it’s about vote, voice and power’

Climate change, a major concern of this week’s United Nations General Assembly, affects people across the globe through immigration, food production and the economy, to name a few. But as Ashley K. Shelton tells Mary C. Curtis, climate change is also spurring voter suppression. Shelton, who leads the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice and is a founding member of the Black Southern Women’s Collective, is turning her attention to policies that need to be in place to ensure that Americans disproportionately affected by devastating weather events can fully participate in democracy.

Dysfunction in America is no longer just knocking on the door

My college roommate has been much in demand in the last few years. (In truth, the presidency of Donald Trump marked a definite uptick in her mainstream media popularity.) You see, her academic specialty is Sinclair Lewis. And if his 1935 novel, “It Can’t Happen Here,” was once seen as dystopian political fantasy, it became — in some circles — a plausible blueprint for the state of the United States of America. What, exactly, is happening here?

It’s human nature not to take crises too seriously until they come knocking at your front door. But we’ve passed that point on a host of issues, with too many citizens either in denial or using the dysfunction as a partisan tool rather than an all-hands-on-deck call to action.

Joe Biden, in his first address to the United Nations as president, asked questions the world hasn’t yet answered: “Will we meet the threat of challenging climate — the challenging climate we’re all feeling already ravaging every part of our world with extreme weather? Or will we suffer the merciless march of ever-worsening droughts and floods, more intense fires and hurricanes, longer heat waves and rising seas?”

It wasn’t that long ago, in 2015, in fact, that Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe toted a snowball onto the Senate floor to prove that the globe was not warming. And while that demonstration stands out for its absurdity and rejection of science, there are still leaders who downplay the importance of the effects of global warming, despite the reality of ever-more-destructive hurricanes in the South, never-ending fires in the West and scenes of New York subway stations awash in flood waters.

The U.S. has rejoined the Paris climate agreement that the Trump administration backed the country out of. But the size and scope of provisions in the congressional budget package to deal with the effects of climate change, a major part of the Biden agenda, are still being debated, including within the Democratic Party that barely controls the House and Senate.

That won’t stop climate from touching almost every other issue, from housing to food production to immigration. Certainly, those seeking refuge in the U.S. from places such as Central America and Haiti, ravaged by developments they may have had nothing to do with, won’t be stopped by walls or agents on horseback.

Explaining reconciliation and the social issues at stake, with Mary C. Curtis

Congress will be back in earnest next week with a lot on the to-do list, including two infrastructure bills.

The first, a bipartisan, Senate-passed infrastructure package, would spend billions of dollars to improve roads, bridges, waterways — but it’s yet to be passed by the House. And then there’s the partisan “human” infrastructure bill that would provide sweeping funds for President Joe Biden’s social agenda, including subsidies for child care, education, paid leave, health care, clean energy programs and more.

Democrats’ only chance at passing such a bold measure without GOP support? A process called budget reconciliation.

Mary C. Curtis, Roll Call columnist and host of the Equal Time podcast, sat down with Norm Ornstein, senior fellow emeritus at the American Enterprise Institute, to better understand reconciliation. She also talked with Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison to understand more about what’s at stake for the party with the bold social priorities.