by Haley Swartz
In advance of the upcoming reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act, public dialogue and political action must shift to emphasize exercise and physical education courses, in addition to a balanced, nutritionally rich diet.
Congress amends the CNA every five years to reflect new research on public health trends and refocus the goals of the National School Lunch Program. Preceding the most recent CNA reauthorization, First Lady Michelle Obama launched the Let’s Move!initiative to end childhood obesity in February 2010. This program reflected a new emphasis on childhood obesity within the 2010 reauthorization of the CNA, or the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. However, this law will expire on September 30, 2015.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates one-third, or 12 million American children and adolescents, were overweight or obese in 2012. According to the Pew Research Center, 69 percent of Americans see obesity as a “very serious public health problem.” While 57 percent of Americans believe government should play a significant role in reducing obesity among children, only 42 percent of the public believes the government should address adult obesity.
by Grady Brown
In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama unveiled his plans for free community college. Surely one of the highlights of the address, the plan would offer two years of community college free to students who maintain a minimum GPA of 2.5. The plan was largely based on the Tennessee Promise and is aimed at giving more students feasible pathways to higher education and, potentially, a four year degree. However, should the proposal make it to the floor, it will face a fight in Congress.
One of many areas of debate will simply be the price tag. In his recent 2016 budget proposal, the President outlines the cost of free community college. In 2016 alone, the plan would come at a price of $1.36 billion. By 2023, the price tag would be closer to $9 billion, bringing total costs to over $60 billion. Obama wants the federal government to pay 75 percent of the tab, leaving the remaining 25 percent to the states. Nevertheless, Republicans will be deeply concerned about program costs.
Another concern that may not be in the spotlight, is the current track record of community colleges. According to arecent study by the National Student Clearinghouse, just 15 percent of students started at a two year institution in 2006 actually completed a degree at a four-year institution within six years.
by Grady Brown
It has been a rough couple months for U.Va., since Rolling Stone released its, now mostly-retracted, story covering an alleged rape on U.Va.’s campus. While the fraternity mentioned in the article appears to have been falsely accused, the University is still at the forefront of a growing national issue. According to the Washington Post, there were more than 3,900 reported incidents of sexual assault on college campuses across the country in 2012. This was a 50 percent increase over the previous three years. Interestingly enough, University had decreasing reports of sexual assault between 2010 and 2012. Nevertheless, the University faces a reinvigorated federal review of its Title IX compliance.
Title IX, a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972, is perhaps best known for ensuring female athletes have equal scholarship opportunities. Title IX is, more broadly, a federal civil rights law that prohibits education programs and activities that receive federal funding from discriminating on the basis of sex. In fact, federal interpretation of Title IX outlines a process that universities must use when handling cases of sexual assault. The University is currently working with the Office for Civil Rights to review its policies and has been since 2011, but is now open to increased scrutiny about possible Title IX violations.
by Samir Salifou
Income inequality in America has reached levels of national embarrassment. If a government’s actions should reflect society’s desires, then somewhere along the way the American democratic process has gone awry. According to a Harvard Business School study, 90 percent of Americans believe that the income gap is too wide. There is a national consensus around fixing income inequality, and the solution isn’t difficult. First, we must raise the minimum wage and stop subsidizing low-cost jobs. Second, we must make access to a higher education affordable and attractive to youth.
The numbers are staggering. In a study conducted by Harvard Business School Prof. Michael Norton, more than 90 percent of Americans believe that the top quintile of society should hold 33 percent of the national wealth and that the bottom 40 percent should hold 25 percent of the national wealth. The real numbers are far different.
The top quintile holds more than 80 percent of the national wealth and the bottom two quintiles hold sequentially 0.3 percent of the national wealth. If 9 out of 10 Americans agree that the income gap should be narrower than it is, then this is not a partisan issue. It is an issue of national importance that needs to be addressed urgently.
by Samir Salifou
The notion that equality of opportunity undergirds political and economic success lies at the core of American meritocracy. Hard work and determination, as opposed to family background, should allow individuals to ascend the socioeconomic ladder.
In 1965, when discussing race-based affirmative action, then-President Lyndon Johnson recognized this issue, sayingthe United States had an obligation to do more than undo inequitable laws. “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say you are free to compete with all the others, and still just believe that you have been completely fair,” Johnson said.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 already bans sex-based discrimination, and the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote, but those changes did not address structural concerns. In 2009, President Barack Obama signed into law the Lilly Ledbetter FairPay Act. The law restored preexisting law, which helped guarantee that individuals subject to pay discrimination have up to 180 days from their last discriminatory paycheck to file a civil suit against their former employer. But this bill failed to address underlying structural issues.