Nice Time

New Mexico Gonna Do Free Child Care, Just Like A Civilized Place!

But it's only for a year — to start.

If you want a vision of a possible future, maybe stop imagining George Orwell's "boot stamping on a human face, forever," and instead imagine a preschool class full of squirmy youngsters, learning and playing and generally being wonderful and sometimes a pain in the ass, as small children can also be.

What can I say? I love the pessimistic old English socialist who rightly feared the totalitarian impulse, but sometimes I end up feeling far more hopeful, like when I read about New Mexico's new initiative to completely cover childcare costs for most residents of the state for a year (free link to Washington Post). I can be a sap that way. I'm also the guy who tears up when Tom Joad tells his mother he'll be there in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready.

Starting May 1 and running through June 2023, the state will cover child care for families earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which ought to cover most New Mexico families. It's easily the broadest state child care benefit in the USA, and the first state benefit to cover such a wide range of incomes. It'll be available to a family of four making up to $110,000 annually, as the Washington Post 'splains:

The state recently expanded a federal child-care subsidy to middle-class families. On Thursday, Lujan Grisham said it would eliminate co-pays for them, too. Officials estimate both changes will make child care free for a total of 30,000 families.

This is pretty freaking wonderful; Lujan Grisham announced the expanded benefit yesterday on her website and at a child care center in Albuquerque, and the video is worth skimming through, if only for the occasional shots of a tiny little girl doing her level best to show interest in all these grownups talking about policy.

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Culture Wars

Tennessee Does Its Part In National School Censorship Crusade

That's some Fahrenheit, that Fahrenheit 451!

The Tennessee General Assembly passed an exciting new school censorship bill Wednesday that will give a politically appointed commission the power to decide what books are allowed in every school library in the state. No more worries about local control, because the commission will now be able to dictate what kids all over the state can read. And to sweeten the deal, the bill's House sponsor, state Rep. Jerry Sexton (R), said that if it were up to him, any books the commission didn't approve would be burned. Sadly for the more censorious culture warriors in the Lege, actually putting books to the torch didn't make it into the law. There's always next year!

We also feel compelled to point out that Rep. Sexton represents a place called "Bean Station," which frankly sounds a little too risqué for the good God-fearing people of Tennessee. Wouldn't want the ladyfolk to get ideas.

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Class War

Mitt Romney Paid For College By Selling Off A Few Stocks, So Why Don't You?

Man who used to have very own car elevator can't believe you lazy takers.

President Joe Biden signaled earlier this week that he may finally go ahead and forgive student loan debt for tens of millions of Americans, in addition to once more extending the pandemic moratorium on student loan payments (and interest) through August. The details are still not worked out, but Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at Monday's daily briefing that Biden would "make a decision about any cancellation of student debt before the conclusion of that pause on student loans.”

Well by golly, Senator Willard Mittens J. Car Elevator McRichguy Romney took to Twitter to condemn Biden's potential student loan forgiveness, pointing out it could only be a cynical election-year cash giveaway to people who don't deserve it.

Desperate polls call for desperate measures: Dems consider forgiving trillions in student loans. Other bribe suggestions: Forgive auto loans? Forgive credit card debt? Forgive mortgages? And put a wealth tax on the super-rich to pay for it all. What could possibly go wrong?
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Connecticut Town's Wingnut School Board Boldly Protects Teens From Mental Health

Fucking jesus wow.

The Republican War on Education keeps rolling along, making sure that public schools will provide only education and services that would be acceptable in the Republic of Gilead. The latest attempt to protect "parental rights," we learn, comes from the town of Killingly, Connecticut, where many teens, parents, and educators have been calling for the high school to open a mental health clinic to provide counseling to teens, because the pandemic and the town's struggling economy have left a lot of young people struggling. The state legislature has made grants available that would cover the costs, and an area nonprofit, Generations Family Health Center, is ready to provide counselors to staff a Student Behavioral Health Center.

On the other hand, the local tea party and the Republican majority on the Killingly Board of Education are worried that counselors might discuss things with troubled teens that patriotic conservative parents don't agree with, so in March, the board voted down a proposal to set up a mental health center at Killingly High School. That oughta learn those teens who say they're in crisis who's boss! That March vote — and some outrageous comments by board leaders — prompted a formal complaint to the State Board of Education from parents who supported the clinic, accusing the board of failing to provide a safe school environment for Killingly students as required by state law. The state board is now investigating the complaint.

A survey conducted by a mental health nonprofit last year indicated that local students in grades seven through 12 would probably benefit from improved mental health services. Nearly 30 percent said they'd had thoughts of harming themselves, and a similar percentage said they have felt so sad or hopeless that it had interfered with their daily activities. 14.7 percent of the kids surveyed said they had seriously considered attempting suicide, and had made a plan to do so. This is also where we remind you that if you're having thoughts of suicide, you can call the national suicide prevention lifeline at 800-273-8255 for support, 24-7.

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