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:

‘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.”

‘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.

Reconciliation, infrastructure and the social safety net

President Joe Biden made clear from his first day in office that social justice issues are at the top of his economic agenda. A “human” infrastructure bill remains on Congress’ to-do list, which includes subsidies for child care, education, paid leave, health care and clean energy programs — in other words, a social safety net.

But to get this partisan, largely unwritten measure passed, Democrats have embraced the budget reconciliation process. Mary C. Curtis speaks first to Norman Ornstein, emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, to unpack the reconciliation process. To discuss the friction within the Democratic Party on this measure and more, Curtis turns to DNC Chair Jaime Harrison on what’s at stake.

MLK III: ‘Listen with your ears, hear with your heart’

Martin Luther King III joins Equal Time to talk with Mary C. Curtis about his father’s “I have a dream” speech, voting rights today and personal memories of his father. Fifty-eight years after his father’s iconic words, MLK III joins John Lewis’ family and others to galvanize the nation to, once again, ensure voting rights for all Americans.