Monday, April 28, 2008

Juan’s Story: Undocumented But Not Un-American

By Sally Kohn

The first thing I noticed about Juan when I met him is his presence. For a young man, just graduated from high school --- that period when most of us were shy and awkward at best --- Juan is confident and vocal, the kind of person with clear potential to be a leader in whatever field he might choose.

The second thing you notice about Juan is the sadness in his eyes. His country, the only home he has ever known, decided his potential is irrelevant --- that no amount of talent and passion and vision and drive could ever overcome the fact that he and his family once crossed our nation’s borders without permission. It’s as though Juan the person doesn’t exist without Juan the paperwork. In our country, he’s treated as a number --- one to be reduced or feared.

Read more and watch a video of Juan telling his story...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Who Really Pays for Taxes in North Carolina

By Meg Gray Wiehe

Two workers arrive at the office at 8 am. By 8:34, one of the workers has earned enough money to pay his share of state and local taxes for the day. The other worker must keep going for another 17 minutes to earn enough to pay his share. The difference between these two workers is their income, but not in the way you make think.

In North Carolina today, it is the state’s poorest taxpayers who pay the highest share of their incomes in state and local taxes and the wealthiest taxpayers who pay the least.

State and local taxes pay for many of the things that keep North Carolinians safe and enhance their quality of life. These include physical structures like roads, jails, and school buildings, and services like health care, education, and restaurant inspections.

Because these investments benefit everyone, each North Carolinian should contribute an appropriate share of his or her income to pay for them. It should be a common goal that all North Carolinians pay similar shares of their incomes in state and local taxes. A good case can also be made that wealthier taxpayers should contribute a greater share of their incomes.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mind the Pay Gap

By Mary Beth Maxwell

Recent headlines reveal what many of us already know -- Americans are witnessing the highest inflation rates seen in over 20 years. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food prices climbed nearly five percent in 2007, and as housing and energy costs skyrocket out of control, working families are getting squeezed. In these difficult times, we should also be reminded that women face even greater financial struggles when weathering this economic storm.

With the observance of Equal Pay Day on April 24, we mark how far into each year a woman must work to earn as much as a man did in the previous year. Recent wage data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not give cause for celebration. In 2007, women earned only 80 cents for every dollar a man earned. This pay gap was substantially greater for minorities, with African-American women making only 70 cents and Hispanic women making only 62 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. While women are more reluctant to negotiate salaries and are often employed in underpaid professions, one grim reality remains -- gender-based discrimination still inherent in our society has largely caused the pay gap that persists today.


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Recruiting for Women's Editorial Forum 2008 Leadership Class

Hello Real Women, Real Voices readers!

Read below to find out what we have been up to here at the national office and throughout the country. We have grown our organization and turned out an amazing number of op-eds. The topics of the pieces we sent out in 2007 varied from education, to the environment, to state tax reform. We have hired new staff and begun several new programs that have expanded the number and constituencies of people who are all working to put progressive issues into the forefront of the media.

New topics are always arising and we plan on continuing to work with media all over the country and cover even more issues in the upcoming year. Our chief focus for the coming weeks will be setting up an amazing National Women's Editorial Forum Training Institute for our 2008 class. If you have an recommendations for applicants, send them our way!

Read below to hear about NWEF's past successes training a new generation of women leaders in the media:

Major Accomplishments in 2007

  • American Forum published over 150 Op-eds, over 40 of them in newspapers with over 100,000 readers including the L.A. Times and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
  • Forum articles reached, on average, more than 13.6 million households via print media and 24.9 million listeners and viewers via radio and television broadcast.
  • Usage of Forum articles has continued to grow with more than 70% of media outlets using many of the articles distributed by the Forum.
  • American Forum increased its creation and use of MP3 files which enabled the Forum to provide short guest editorials in the authors own voice to media outlets interested in encouraging citizens to speak up and out about issues of the day.
  • The National Women’s Editorial Forum Leadership Institute media trainings were held in June, September and December with over 100 participants
  • Executive Director Denice Zeck held op-ed trainings for organizations nationwide, reaching over 200 participants
  • The National Women’s Editorial Forum launched the blog Real Women, Real Voices, which provided exclusive coverage of issues such as the Alabama anti-choice protests, the ratio of females chosen to present questions at the YouTube presidential debate and the role of women and minorities in Imus’s return to radio.
  • American Forum was rewarded its own Channel on YouTube – only aprroved organizations were given nonprofit channels.

First Class of Leadership Training Institute Graduates, June 2007

What participants had to say about our first media training:

“I enjoyed the purpose behind this training. It was a very worthwhile experience to hear and see so many women being so engaged, to their issues, and their willingness to share with others. The presentations were very informative, each person knew her subject and presented in a way that was clear, not boring, and relevant.”

“This conference is one of the best I have attended for sometime. The trainers were wonderful, accessible, and open to share information…Thank you for the experience! I’ll treasure it for the rest of my life!”

“The most significant thing I gained was the introduction to a wonderful think tank of women with a great deal of knowledge and the willingness to share. It will provide me with everlasting resources that will empower me and my community. I liked the diversity!”

NWEF Training Participants listen to talks from the producers of Face the Nation and the Charlie Rose Show

NWEF participants and Advisory Panel members speak with White House Press Corp Dean, Helen Thomas

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Collaborative Mental Health Policy is Best Option For Alabama

By Amy Hinton

For many years, mental health advocates have complained that mental health policy is made in a vacuum. The tendency is to treat mental health as if it were an island, separate and distinct from any of the other legitimate functions of government. It is not.

Several state agencies, including the Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Youth Services (DYS), recently participated in the first phase of a multi-year collaborative strategic planning grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. It gave Alabama the opportunity to explore ways to reduce the number of adults and juveniles with mental health and/or substance abuse disorders that come into contact with law enforcement and the state criminal and juvenile justice systems. The goal is to not only reduce the numbers, but also to improve early identification efforts that would appropriately route persons with mental illness into the correct social service delivery system.

Many state agencies are being forced to deal with mental health issues in much the same way as an entertainer tries to keep multiple plates spinning on sticks during a vaudeville show. This is neither an effective nor efficient use of Alabama’s limited policy and planning resources. The concept of collaborative policymaking regarding mental health issues is relatively new and unfamiliar to most state agency leaders who may feel the issue has little relevance to their particular service area. Nothing could be further from reality. Mental health is an important policy issue that touches every major service area in state government.


How the Christian Right Goes Wrong

By Cristina Page

New research reveals that female students in programs that promote abstinence exclusively are more likely to get pregnant than those in programs that teach about the full range of contraceptives as well as abstinence. The news, published in the April issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, is just the latest proof that the $1.5 billion dollar “just say no to sex” experiment on our teens has failed. And while Christian conservatives defend their approach even in the face of this latest devastating news, it’s time to ask them one simple question: Shouldn’t the results matter?


Friday, April 04, 2008

Gas Gouging and Green Jackets

By Martha Burk

Paid at the pump lately? Who hasn’t, and we’re paying more with each tank. Gas is up a quarter a gallon in the last two weeks alone, but don’t expect big oil to feel your pain. The moguls at ExxonMobil, the fattest of the petroleum cartel cats, will squander several millions of your fuel dollars sponsoring the Masters golf tournament and entertaining their buddies during the April 8 to 12 festivities.


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

PSA: Uncle Sam Plays Cupid

Public Service Announcement distributed by American Forum, denouncing marriage promotion as an approach to fight poverty.

PSA: Compassionate Care for Rape Victims

Public Service Announcement distributed by American Forum that declares emergency contraception should be properly explained and available to rape victims.

PSA: Pharmacists and Patient's Rights

Public Service Announcement distributed by American Forum on the need to support two proposed Board of Pharmacy rules that together will protect patient access to prescriptions.

PSA: Legislature Attacks Reproductive Rights Again

Public Service Announcement distributed by American Forum on extreme views on abortion that certain Virginia legislators possess.

PSA: Doctors, Legislators and the Courts

Public Service Announcement distributed by American Forum on the federal abortion ban decision recently upheld by the Supreme Court.

PSA: Pharmacists and Morality

Public Service Announcement, distributed by American Forum on how women in Washington state are feeling the repercussions of Bush's federally appointed judges by allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense Plan B medications.

PSA: Accurate Sex Education

Public Service Announcement, distributed by American Forum, on the importance of medically accurate sex education curricula used throughout school districts in North Carolina.

PSA: Pharmaceuticals Change, Our Mission Shouldn't

Public Service Announcement, distributed by American Forum, on the importance of pharmacists doing what's best for patients based on medical and not personal views.

PSA: Contraception and Health Insurance

Public Service Announcement, distributed by American Forum that conveys the legacy of the federal judiciary.

PSA: Can You Hear Us Now?

Public Service Announcement on Verizon's rejection of services to NARAL Pro-Choice America based on their deeming the organization's mission "too controversial."

Public Service Anncmt: Truly Value Motherhood

A Public Service Announcement by Martha Burk, distributed by American Forum, chronicling various social policies from inadequate maternity leave to equal pay.

Public Service Anncmt: The Real Estate of Women's Health

This Public Service Announcement, distributed by NWEF, focuses on the battle over real estate for women's reproductive health centers.