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Why Extending The Federal Unemployment Benefits Program Matters To The States

Just a few days after Christmas, 1.3 million unemployed Americans still searching for a job abruptly lost their unemployment benefits because some in Congress refused to extend the program. Through 2014, five million Americans will be cut off from this economic lifeline, with thousands or tens of thousands of people harmed in each state. Here's why extending the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program matters to the states.

Embattled ALEC On The Ropes

The embattled American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has had a tough few weeks. How bad? Here are stats from ALEC Exposed, as well as a sampling of the news on this shadowy right-wing organization operating in our states to sell out America's working families to corporate high-bidders.

Fighting Back Against The State Legislative Attacks On American Workers

In recent years, right-wing state legislators across the country have been stepping up their work to enact an anti-worker agenda on behalf of powerful corporate interests. As explained in the Economic Policy Institute's recent report, “The Legislative Attack on American Wages and Labor Standards, 2011-2012,” these alarming legislative efforts are coordinated on a national scale, massively-funded, and insidiously effective. The wave of legislative proposals designed to undermine wages and labor standards, for union and non-union workers, included the following....

Rate Shock Exposed: 7 Ways Obamacare Sabotage Would Raise Your Premiums

"Rate shock! Premium hikes!" As anyone following the health reform debate knows, it's a favorite line of attack by right-wing opponents of the law. However, upon a closer look, it's clear that those rate shock fearmongers' sabotage efforts are the very ones designed to raise health insurance premiums. Here are seven ways they're doing it -- while blaming "rate shock" on the leaders working in good faith to implement the law and make health coverage more affordable. Where's the outrage?

 

Florida Students Advocating For Schoolhouses, Not Jailhouses

For many American teenagers, hearing criticism of their supposed apathy towards the issues of the day is almost a routine occurrence. But not for this group of Florida students. Dream Defenders, a Miami-based group of young people organized in reaction to the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin, is now working alongside Florida state lawmakers, including Progressive States Network member Sen. Dwight Bullard, to call for the passage of "Trayvon's Law" -- a package of legislative proposals that affect them directly. Last month, forty students belonging to the group took part in training on how to speak effectively about the proposal to lawmakers. Then they did exactly that, meeting with state legislators and their aides in the Florida state capitol. It's the kind of advocacy work that would impress professionals who do it for a living.

In Texas, Stepping Back From The Failed Austerity Experiment On Public Schools?

What happens in Texas's educational system is closely watched by the rest of the nation, from its textbook selection to a recent rollback of the state's high-stakes testing requirements. We can add funding for public education and universal pre-K to that list. During the 2011 legislative session, the Texas legislature had cut $5.4 billion from public education for the 2012-2013 biennium, slamming students and teachers with the brunt of the first education cuts the state enacted in more than four decades. The cuts also came as the $3 billion in emergency aid that Texas received from the 2009 federal stimulus was drying up.

Great Futures for All Rhode Island Students

It is a concern that lawmakers across the states are continuing to hear from families and teachers: their youngest constituents are over-tested, forced into focusing heavily on high-stakes test scores at the expense of gaining high-order thinking skills, building complex reasoning abilities, and enjoying a well-rounded education. Rhode Island is no stranger to the concerns. In fact, with a new testing graduation requirement implemented by the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education this year, the stakes have soared for the state's students. Specifically, the new policy ties receiving a high school diploma to performance on the controversial New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) exam, which was never intended to be a graduation requirement. As a result of the new requirement, approximately 4000 students are at risk of not graduating next year.

Clearing Georgians' Confusion On The Common Core

If you've never heard of the Common Core State Standards, count yourself among 2 in 3 Americans, including the majority of parents with children in public schools. That's one of the results of a recent poll on Americans' attitude toward public education, which also found that the majority of those who've heard of the Common Core felt they were only "somewhat knowledgeable" about the standards.

Wisconsin Families: Public Education Is A Civil Right

Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, inspiring the nation with a soaring call for equality and unity as Americans that still resonates today. But achieving equality in the form of jobs and freedom depends on a strong public educational system available to all -- a truth reflected in the "Public Education is A Civil Right March and Rally" held recently in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Representative Mandela Barnes and Senator Chris Larson were among the hundreds of Wisconsin students, parents, educators, faith leaders, and representatives of more than 50 organizations sponsoring the event who marched together on September 21.