Why we must elect people who understand the literacy crisis

Shelley Skuster: We can interrupt the school-to-prison pipeline by supporting Kimberly Graham for Polk County Attorney.

The largest school district in the state is in the middle of a full-blown literacy crisis, and every candidate running for an elected office should be talking about it.

In Des Moines Public Schools, less than half of all students in grades K-3 know how to read. When it comes to Black children, the statistics are even more alarming. In fact, only 36 percent of Black boys enrolled in Des Moines Public Schools know how to read at a third-grade level.

If we don’t interrupt this literacy crisis right now, you might as well polish off a set of handcuffs because there’s a clear correlation between one’s ability to read and the likelihood they’ll end up in jail.

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The perils of outside money

Author’s Note from Strong Island Hawk: “Outside money” typically refers to super-PACs and dark money groups. “Independent expenditure only committees,” more commonly known as super-PACs, have no limits on contributions from individuals but are prohibited from donating to candidates or “coordinating” with them on strategy or messaging. “Dark money” groups are essentially charities organized under 501(c)(4) of the IRS code and are not required to publicly disclose their donors. These “social welfare” groups can spend certain amounts of their annual budget on political activity. See Issue One’s explainer.

Iowa Democrats are once again trying to figure out what went wrong after another election night full of defeats, including a loss for Senate candidate Theresa Greenfield. Greenfield was a weak candidate: she was yet another wealthy Des Moines real estate developer who was a political novice with no compelling message or agenda. And she was neither an electric speaker nor a sharp debater. But Iowans were never really given a choice.

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Kimberly Graham knows universal health care is our only choice

Elisa Hernández Pérez is an immigrant from Spain living in Iowa City. -promoted by Laura Belin

When I moved to Iowa from Spain, my mom’s main worry was not whether I would be too cold in the snowy winters, nor if I would make friends quickly, nor if I would miss the food or going to the beach. Her main worry was what could happen to me if I found myself in need of even the most basic health care.

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Kimberly Graham: Of the People, for the People, and by the People

Scott Roland is an activist from Cedar Rapids. -promoted by Laura Belin

Introduction

Whatever we think that we are doing, it is certainly not working. We are asked to embrace some variation of the status quo that offers us ruinous household debt, political corruption that has become normalized, stagnant growth rates, perilously insecure employment, a natural environment that is on a course to become barely inhabitable, and a health care system that leaves many just one medical emergency away from bankruptcy. As a society, we have fallen into a chasm, and have brought our diminished faith in American exceptionalism with us. 

These problems have been exacerbated by a complacent political class, but politicians like Kimberly Graham offer us a credible path forward. Absurdly, some have painted her as an unrealistic radical, but in much of the developed world, she would be a mainstream social democrat. Her desire is not a destructive revolution, but decency: universal publicly financed health care, wages that ensure that households live above the threshold of poverty, elections that can’t be bought by the highest bidder, a system that does not leave students shackled in debt, and a Green New Deal to address the trillions in negative externality costs related to climate change.

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