Thanks for the welcomes and comments. I'm a big believer in the idea that the best decisions -- whether it is how to campaign, how to govern, how a NGO can tackle a vexing societal problem, or how to run a business -- are arrived at publicly and with wide input. I've got a day job that keeps me busy (and a number of campaign commitments) but I will try to check in and respond, and look forward to a future live blogging session.
Thanks again for the submissions and here are some initial thoughts:
* lcloud is so right about how critical high-quality care and learning environments are for young children. All of the studies on pre-kindergarten programs I’ve seen agree that quality programs are cost-effective, especially when you take into account middle- and long-term savings. And I don't mean just in terms of effectiveness in improving educational outcomes. In cold, hard dollar terms, the benefits outweigh the costs. One study of the Abecedarian Program in North Carolina found a return of between $2 and $3.66 dollars for every public dollar spent. Other studies have found returns of $10 or more per dollar spent, but even the most conservative estimates suggest a 2-to-1 payoff.
On the back end, North Carolina law requires education for children "between the ages of 7 and 16 years." This puts us in an eight-way tie for the shortest required school term of any state. Our neighbors all require students to attend school for longer than we do. In South Carolina, students must attend from age 5 until 17, in Virginia from 5 until 18, and in Tennessee from 6 until 17. Providing quality learning environments from ages 3-18 is a big commitment, but it is one North Carolina needs – as a state -- to make.
* To momoaizo’s point about accessibility of public officials after campaigns are over, I am committed to it. North Carolina has strong public records and open meetings laws. Those laws must be vindicated in practice and public officials should go beyond them and be available to those they work for – the people of North Carolina. Put another way, win (or lose), I’ll be back.
* I think “access to appropriate health care on a regular basis” is something every North Carolinian should enjoy. My goal is to make that goal a reality as quickly as possible. You’ll see some of my ideas for getting there on my website. I also am proud to have supported from the outset the idea that any conversion of Blue Cross/Blue Shield to for-profit status must include the creation of a charitable foundation devoted to expanding access to quality health care for North Carolinians.
* I think expanding education and health access will help reduce the racial and economic disparities we continue to see. But, as part of making real progress on the gaps and disparities that should distress us all, we have to acknowledge their existence, and their many causes including the racism that still exists in America. I have done work for the NAACP, the Washington Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, and other groups working on these issues, and will discuss them throughout my run.