teamwork makes the dream work
February 5, 2019

Political division may be at its peak, but at least one bipartisan program is working out.

Just five years ago, Jacksonville, Florida's classrooms were literally falling apart under the nation's largest preschool program. But as new congressional standards took hold, Jacksonville's preschools — and Head Start programs around the nation — have enjoyed a drastic upswing, The New York Times reports.

Head Start began under former President Lyndon B. Johnson's watch, and has its budget has skyrocketed $900 million since. It's generally gotten bipartisan support because it's a poverty program "aimed at young children, who cannot be faulted for their poverty," the Times details. Yet despite its general success, it soon became clear that Head Start could do better.

So in 2007, Congress overwhelmingly approved the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007. Along with introducing a sweeping list of educational standards, the law implemented more federal oversight to make sure those standards were enforced. That oversight is what unmasked severe "neglect" in Jacksonville's schools: "Moldy classrooms, exposed wires, leaking sewage," not to mention how some teachers roughly treated children, the Times writes. Federal inspectors were able to fire the nonprofit running Jacksonville's Head Start, and require the new nonprofit they hired to "compete for funding that was once virtually automatic" if it wanted to stay in charge, per the Times.

Today, Jacksonville's preschools are nearing the average CLASS score that federal overseers give to Head Start programs nationwide. It all "reflects an unheralded trend:" Across the country, Head Start "is getting better," the Times writes. Read more at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

January 16, 2019

The biggest hindrance to addressing environmental issues comes from the very people with the power to tackle them.

In the World Economic Forum's annual risk report, climate-related risks were at the top of around 1,000 experts' and decision-makers' concerns, The Guardian reports. But the report states international cooperation on major issues has reached "crisis levels," thus limiting any chance at international action on climate change, CNBC reports.

"Global risks are intensifying but the collective will to tackle them appears to be lacking. Instead, divisions are hardening," the report said, per The Guardian.

President Trump announced in 2017 that the U.S. would withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change in accordance with his "America First" strategy. He has since cancelled former President Barack Obama's Clean Power Plan and adopted his own policy that could increase carbon dioxide emissions by 8.7 percent compared with ignoring the issue altogether.

The report noted a shift in state-centered politics throughout 2018 as a contributing factor to lessening global cooperation. The Guardian reports that the global economy slowed in the second-half of 2018, and that the WEF report showed 88 percent of respondents anticipating a continued erosion of multilateral trading rules and agreements. Marianne Dodson

See More Speed Reads