Goshen News, Goshen, IN

March 2, 2014

LETTERS FOR MARCH 2, 2014: Congress should raise minimum wage

Goshen News

---- — Debating the ideal way to help low-wage workers, as was done at a local forum Monday in Elkhart is useful long-term, but right now, the simplest step is to raise the minimum wage.

As one of the forum participants pointed out, most minimum wage workers aren’t carefree teenagers: with an average age of 35, they supply half their household income and many are raising kids. That’s harder and harder to do, since after factoring in inflation, the minimum wage today —which works out to only $15,000 a year, is lower than it was in 1968.

A bill in Congress would gradually raise the wage to $10.10 an hour and index it to inflation in order to keep up with rising prices. As a reliable supporter of working people, it would make sense for Sen. Joe Donnelly to join the one-third of the Senate that is already co-sponsoring this legislation.

Raising the minimum wage does not kill jobs. Rather, increasing the purchasing power of low-wage workers boosts local economies and leads to more hiring.

The head of the Elkhart Chamber of Commerce was reported as saying he couldn’t find any local employers who were paying the minimum wage, and yet also is quoted as claiming raising the wage would cost jobs. Even if you overlook that apparent contradiction, the reality is that most minimum-wage jobs are vital parts of a business — restaurant dishwasher, motel housekeeper — that won’t go away.

— Jeremy Bernstein


Our children aren’t educational lab rats

This year started with great optimism for thousands of concerned parents, grandparents and educators from around the state. Gov. Mike Pence spoke of his support for “Uncommonly high standards written by Hoosiers for Hoosiers;” The General Assembly was moving toward dropping the highly controversial and swiftly adopted Common Core Standards from 2010; The State Board of Education and Department of Education announced they would work cooperatively to produce a new set of standards that would be fair and exceed the requirements mandated in HEA1427.

Now, it is early March and after three days of public testimony on the new draft standards the only area of agreement between the advocates of Common Core from 2010 and its opponents is that the draft standards are “remarkably similar” to Common Core! This cut-and-paste result is a huge betrayal to the hundreds of citizens and supportive legislators that have worked for months to not only retain our states educational sovereignty, but to produce educational standards that are “uncommonly” high and truly prepare children for their careers or college.

The State Board of Education is the first state board in the country that has committed to a better set of standards, but time is running out. The education industry has historically fallen prey to jumping on the bandwagon of unproven, untested ideas such as Common Core. None of us would expose our children to medications that haven’t gone through years of trials and FDA approvals. Why are we willing to continue to use our children as “educational lab rats?” In the coming months the SBOE, DOE, governor and General Assembly are going to have to decide which side they plan to serve — the education industry or the concerned citizens and the children of this state.

— David Read