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Closing the Literacy Gap Through Early Learning

Posted by Holly Flynn, Intern | Posted on: August 07, 2014 at 12:09 pm

As summer winds down this month, children across America are getting their backpacks, pencils, and books ready to go back to school. While a new school year means a new classroom, new teacher, and new lessons to learn for most children, some will be left behind, held back a year because they have difficulty reading. The New York Times reported Monday that more and more states are requiring schools to hold back third graders who do not read on grade level. Yet when children are forced to repeat a grade, it may already be too late—several studies have found that students who have to repeat a grade are more likely to drop out of high school. A more effective way to improve children’s literacy is by ensuring children have high-quality early learning opportunities that give them a strong start even before entering kindergarten.

Low-income children are particularly likely to lag in their reading skills. Children in economically disadvantaged families may lack opportunities to develop their language skills at home.  They tend to be read to less regularly, have fewer books in their homes, and hear fewer words in their early years.  In addition, they often are unable to participate in high-quality early learning programs, because such programs are too costly for their parents, unavailable in their neighborhoods, or inaccessible due to parents’ challenging work schedules, lack of transportation, or other barriers.

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Judicial Nominations Update: August Edition

Posted by Amy K. Matsui, Senior Counsel and Director of Women and the Courts | Posted on: August 05, 2014 at 09:58 am

Last week, the Senate left for its August recess after having confirmed Pamela Harris to a Maryland-based seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and obtaining cloture on the nomination of Jill Pryor to a seat on the Eleventh Circuit (her confirmation vote presumably will take place shortly after the Senate returns in early September). 

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Alabama Admitting Privileges Law Ruled Unconstitutional

Posted by Abigail Barnes, Intern | Posted on: August 05, 2014 at 09:53 am

Yesterday, a federal judge in Alabama held that the state’s law requiring abortion providers to obtain hospital admitting privileges was unconstitutional as applied to the clinics that brought the suit. Enforcement of the law would have closed three of Alabama’s five abortion clinics.

Judge Myron Thompson of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama issued his 172-page opinion [PDF] after a ten-day trial in the case, Planned Parenthood Southeast, Inc. v. Strange. It details the history of violence, harassment, and hostility in Alabama towards abortion providers and the significant obstacles the law would have imposed on women seeking abortions.

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The Top 10 Questions to Ask About Your Title IX Rights on a College Visit

Posted by Michaela Olson, Intern | Posted on: August 05, 2014 at 09:32 am

‘Tis the season for college visiting. As campuses across America are flooded with high school students this summer, there are some hard-hitting, crucial questions to keep in mind—and they may help to give you better perspective on where you could spend some of the most formative years of your life. Although it might not occur to many prospective students and their parents, one of those questions is how a school responds to reports of sexual harassment and assault. While it’s been in the news a lot lately, campus sexual assault isn’t just a hot topic or fodder for politicians and pundits, but rather a harsh reality for far too many. The more you know about how each school responds to it, the better.

And taking steps to prevent and respond to these acts isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s the law.  Title IX requires all federally funded schools to have policies and procedures in place to help educate the community about sexual harassment and assault and to promptly investigate reported incidents.

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Montana State Government Leads the Way on Equal Pay with Self-Evaluation of Employee Compensation

Posted by Emily Werth, Fellow | Posted on: August 04, 2014 at 03:48 pm

There is both good news and bad news for women who work for the state of Montana.

Last week the state released the results of a pay equity audit [PDF] that was conducted by the executive branch of the state government – an in-depth analysis of pay practices to understand and identify possible solutions to gender-based pay disparities. The audit found that the female state government employees covered by the pay audit earned on average approximately 86 percent of what male state government employees earned.

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Lesson Learned: States’ Actions on Child Care and Early Learning Show Congress How It’s Done

Posted by Emily Wales, Fellow | Posted on: August 04, 2014 at 09:47 am

On the child care and early education front, there have been some critical steps in the right direction in Washington – introduction of the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, Senate passage of a bill to reauthorize the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), and President Obama’s commitment to expanding access to early education. But there’s still more work to do to get legislation passed and new investments approved at the federal level. As members of Congress head home for their month-long recess, they should take the opportunity to see what is happening in their own states, many of which have been leading the way to make high-quality child care and early education programs more available and more responsive to families’ needs.

We’ve just released a new summary highlighting some key examples of states’ progress on early care and education in 2014. More than half of states took at least some steps forward on early care and education – increasing funding, redesigning policies to expand access, launching pilot programs, or improving child care tax credits.

Here are some examples of the creative approaches and strong commitments we’re seeing:

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In July Women's Job Growth Slows, Uptick in Unemployment Fueled by Higher Unemployment Among Vulnerable Groups of Women

Posted by Alana Eichner, Program Assistant | Posted on: August 01, 2014 at 04:02 pm

After taking an initial look at the jobs report released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning, my colleague remarked, "Not a good month for the ladies." Look at this month's data, and you'll see what she is talking about.

Only a third of the 209,000 jobs added in July were gained by women, compared to nearly half (47 percent) of job gains last month, according to the revised numbers. Women gained 68,000 jobs in July. Their slow job growth compared to men is particularly noticeable in the fields of manufacturing and construction. Women lost 8,000 manufacturing jobs this month and gained 0 in construction, compared to 36,000 new manufacturing jobs for men and 22,000 in construction. Women continue to be severely underrepresented in these historically male-dominated and higher-paying fields, and face barriers such as sexual harassment, lack of mentors, and stereotyped assumptions, when they do break into the field of construction. To ensure women's economic success, women need to gain jobs in these sectors too.

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Couldn't Live the Wage This Week? Neither Can the Workers Waiting for Congress to Take Action.

Posted by Emily Wales, Fellow | Posted on: August 01, 2014 at 02:05 pm

We say it all the time: You can't make ends meet on a minimum wage income (just $14,500 a year for full time, year round work!). But looking at the numbers is entirely different than trying to live that reality.

Over the past week, advocates and elected officials attempted to live off a minimum wage budget to highlight just how tough it is to stretch these very low wages. The current federal minimum wage — $7.25 per hour — leaves a full-time worker with just $77 per week, after paying for housing costs and taxes. As a result, Live the Wage Challenge participants had to budget their $77 very carefully to cover food, transportation, and any other needs. For most challenge-takers, it was an impossible task.

Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio took the challenge, and he wrote about how any unanticipated cost — like filling prescriptions for his new baby — threw off his strategy for the week. For Rep. Jan Schakowsky, careful menu planning was essential to stretching her budget — but that still wasn't enough. At the challenge's closing event, she said what workers around the country know to be true: "$7.25 an hour is not enough to live on. It's just not." NWLC's own Julie Vogtman wrote about how, as a new mom, she couldn't take the challenge; $77 simply wouldn't cover child care, baby necessities, and her own basic needs.

The challenge wasn't about truly capturing what low-wage workers face; after all, participants didn't have to figure out housing costs with their weekly budget, and they weren't expected to stop paying their child care providers or skip needed medications. But those limits to the challenge demonstrate just how impossible minimum wage budgeting is.

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