I have written several articles on postings related to Reform in America. A list of links have been provided at bottom of this article for your convenience. This article will, however address additional areas rife for reform.
When asked to consider the major problems facing the country, the affordability of health care and drug addiction top the American public’s list.
Other issues, including illegal immigration and climate change, are seen as less pressing, due in part to stark partisan disagreements over the importance of these issues.
Two-thirds of Americans view the affordability of health care as a very big problem for the country today, while another 26% say it is a moderately big problem. Fewer than one-in-ten say affording health care is a small problem (6%) or not a problem at all (2%).
A comparable majority says drug addiction is a major problem: 64% say it is a very big problem in the country and 28% say it is a moderately big problem.
Narrower majorities say the affordability of a college education (55%) and the federal budget deficit (53%) are very big problems in the country. About half say this about climate change (48%).
Somewhat smaller shares of the public cite other issues as very big problems for the country. For instance, 43% say this about illegal immigration and 39% say this about terrorism.
Sexism and job opportunities rank at the bottom of the public’s list of problems in the country. At a time when the public holds positive views of the economy overall, just 25% say job opportunities for all Americans is a very big problem. About the same share (26%) calls sexism a very big problem.
For the most part, assessments of the pressing problems facing the U.S. have not changed a great deal in recent years. However, the shares of Americans who say that terrorism and job opportunities for all Americans are very big problems have declined substantially since November 2016, shortly before the presidential election. At that time, 53% viewed terrorism as a very big problem; today, 39% express this view. And the share who view job opportunities as a very big problem is only about half the level it was three years ago (25% now, 47% then).
Wide partisan differences in views of most major problems
As in the past, there are wide partisan differences on the perceived seriousness of most of the problems asked about in the survey. Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents are far more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners to say several concerns are very big problems – especially climate change, economic inequality and racism.
Majorities of Democrats say all three are very big problems, compared with fewer than a quarter of Republicans. For example, 73% of Democrats say climate change is a very big problem, compared with just 17% of Republicans. (For more on partisanship and views of climate change, see “U.S. Public Views on Climate and Energy.”)
Republicans, by contrast, are more likely to say illegal immigration is a very big problem. Two-thirds of Republicans say illegal immigration is a very big problem; the only problem cited by similar shares of Republicans is drug addiction (68%). Just 23% of Democrats cite illegal immigration as a very big problem, the lowest share for any of the 11 issues included in the survey.
There are a handful of issues that are viewed similarly across partisan lines: Majorities in both parties say drug addiction is a very big problem, though Republicans are more likely than Democrats to express this view (68% vs. 61%). About half of Republicans (54%) and Democrats (52%) say the federal budget deficit is a very big problem. Terrorism ranks relatively low as a concern among Republicans (41%) and Democrats (36%).
Among Democrats and Republicans, there are areas of ideological agreement – and some notable differences – on the severity of problems in the U.S.
On climate change, liberal Democrats (84%) are significantly more likely than conservative and moderate Democrats (64%) to say this is a very big problem. Among Republicans, 28% of moderates and liberals say climate change is a very big problem compared with an even smaller share of conservatives (11%).
Illegal immigration is the top national problem among conservative Republicans (75% say it is a very big problem), but is viewed as a major problem by fewer moderate and liberal Republicans (53%). Conservative and moderate Democrats are twice as likely as liberal Democrats to say illegal immigration is a very big problem (30% vs. 15%).
Notably, one national concern – drug addiction – is viewed as a very big problem by majorities across the ideological spectrum. Two-thirds of conservative and moderate Democrats (66%) say drug addiction is a very big problem; a smaller majority of liberal Democrats (57%) say the same. Nearly identical shares of conservative Republicans (68%) and moderate and liberal Republicans (66%) say drug addiction is a very big problem.
Age differences in views of the nation’s biggest problems
In views of several national problems, the age differences are fairly modest. For example, comparable majorities across age categories say the affordability of health care is a very big problem.
Yet there are notable age differences on such issues as illegal immigration, the federal budget deficit, terrorism and climate change.
On three of these four issues – illegal immigration, the deficit and terrorism – older adults are more likely than young people to regard them as very big problems. For example, 57% of those ages 65 and older and nearly as many ages 50 to 64 (53%) view illegal immigration as a major problem. Fewer than half of those ages 30 to 49 (38%) and only about a quarter of those younger than 30 (23%) say the same.
By contrast, adults under age 30 are the only age group in which a majority (59%) views climate change as a very big problem. Smaller shares of those 30 to 49 (47%), 50 to 64 (42%) and 65 and older (44%) place the same level of importance on the issue.
While there are sizable age differences in views of some national problems, these differences are far more pronounced among Republicans and Republican leaners than Democrats and Democratic leaners.
The most striking age gap, by far, in opinions among Republicans is on illegal immigration: Republicans ages 65 and older are 50 percentage points more likely than those younger than 30 to say illegal immigration is a very big problem for the country (85% vs. 35%).
The youngest Republicans also are less likely than older adults in the GOP to say terrorism and the federal budget deficit are very big problems for the country.
On climate change, the age pattern among Republicans runs in the opposite direction. Just 15% of Republicans ages 30 and older say climate change is a very big problem for the country. The youngest Republicans are more likely to see the issue as a very big problem; still, the overall share of young Republicans who say this is relatively modest (32%).
Views of top problems vary by race and ethnicity
Views of the country’s most pressing problems also differ by race and ethnicity. In general, black and Hispanic adults tend to be more likely than whites to assign high importance to a range of issues.
One of the largest divides in views is over the issue of racism. Majorities of blacks (75%) and Hispanics (61%) view racism as a very big problem in the country today. By contrast, just 33% of whites give the issue the same level of importance.
Two-thirds of blacks (66%) view economic inequality as a very big problem for the country; 51% of Hispanics share this view. Among whites, 39% view economic inequality as a very big problem.
When it comes to job opportunities for all Americans, 53% of black adults say this is a very big problem for the country today, compared with smaller shares of Hispanics (31%) and whites (18%).
Democrats differ by race and ethnicity in their views of some of the major problems in the country. (Differences by race and ethnicity among Republicans were not analyzed due to insufficient sample sizes. Most Republicans and Republican leaners are white; the share of nonwhites in the GOP is far smaller than among Democrats.)
Among Democrats and Democratic leaners, 52% of whites say racism is a very big problem for the country, compared with larger shares of black (79%) and Hispanic (70%) Democrats.
White Democrats are ideologically divided on this issue: While a 60% majority of white liberals say racism is a very big problem, just 41% of white conservative and moderate Democrats say the same.
In addition, black Democrats (52%) are more likely than white (25%) or Hispanic Democrats (37%) to view job opportunities for all Americans as a very big problem.
Economic inequality is viewed as a major problem by nearly identical shares of black and white Democrats (70% and 68% respectively); a somewhat smaller majority of Hispanic Democrats (59%) view inequality as a very big problem. Yet there are wide ideological differences among white Democrats: 78% of white liberals see inequality as a very big problem, compared with 56% of white conservative and moderate Democrats.
Climate change divides Democrats by race and ethnicity, and white Democrats by ideology. Among white and Hispanic Democrats, roughly as many cite climate change as a very big problem for the country as cite the affordability of health care. Among black Democrats, however, 56% say climate change is a very big problem, compared with 79% who say the affordability of health care is a major problem.
Among white Democrats, an overwhelming share of liberals (89%) say climate change is a very big problem for the country. A smaller majority of white conservative and moderate Democrats (69%) say climate change is a major problem for the U.S.
Top national issues in 2021 and beyond
Top 10 Social Issues in America
There are numerous issues that should be addressed concerning the social issues in America; however, there are some that keep popping to the top of the list whenever the conversation comes up. Here’s a basic rundown of what you need to know to start an intelligent discussion about these social issues.
Health care reform has been at the top of the talking points for almost every politician over the last eight years, and with the recent rollout of the Healthcare Marketplace, the discussions are just getting louder. Health care for everyone is a revolutionary concept in the United States, though other countries have been doing it successfully for years. Now we are in the process of moving toward a system that promises everyone can have the care they need, but there are plenty of snags along the way altogether with those who are against the idea.
Student loan debt has become one of the worst financial nightmares for many, and at the same time, the education they receive is sorely lacking when compared to the rest of the world. Unfortunately, this is true of every educational system in the nation from preschool to college. Some states are struggling to simply keep schools open as they try to figure out where all the money has gone. From preschool to higher education, we all deserve better and we are all looking to the government for answers that don’t seem to be forthcoming anytime soon.
The Great Recession really took a heavy toll on the country, leading to serious issues with employment, finances and even government assistance for many families that fell through the proverbial cracks. There are still issues with employment today, as companies try to cut costs and downsize their employee pool, and hard-working and qualified employees find it difficult to get a job in any profession, even those in which they are highly proficient. The problem is getting better, but the slow pace has many frustrated.
4-Environment and Climate Change
Today’s world is changing fast, and Mother Nature is at the forefront. With all the massive storms that are becoming more frequent, and the record droughts and floods across the nation, there is no doubt that something has shaken up our natural world. But what can we do about it? Environmental effects must be addressed, including everything from the crumbling infrastructure of bridges and roads to the fact of climate change, and how it is affecting everything from farming to fishing. What individuals can do to help alleviate problems for the environment should also be seriously considered.
America is one of the unhealthiest countries in the world. The rate of obesity has skyrocketed in recent decades and shows no signs of slowing down. As a result, Americans are dealing with the problems that are often related to obesity, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and other ailments that put a strain on the healthcare system, not to mention the pocketbooks of those who wind up in the hospital, battling the problems. The prevalence of fast food places, restaurants that serve massive portions and unhealthy foods that cost less than healthy ones only adds to the issue.
The world is changing fast, and the United States seems to be in the middle of every conflict. Today, there is the battle against ISIS and other terrorists as well as issues with many of our allies; for instance, the ongoing war between Hamas and Israel as well as the unrest in Syria. With the Ebola outbreak that threatens to sweep the world, which is added into the humanitarian problems, foreign relations are definitely a must-address issue that is facing our nation today.
Those who cross the border legally are welcome, but those who choose to come across illegally are often stuck in a kind of limbo in which nobody wins. Illegal immigration puts a serious strain on our social services, especially when those immigrants happen to be children who find themselves stuck between two worlds. The political spectrum is blazing with solutions to the problem, from building fences around the country to simply allowing an easier way for those immigrants to come here legally.
There are 5 easy ways to improve our illegal alien issue according to Grant Stichfield in Newsmax. (1) we need to stop flying asylum seekers to any destination they wish in the US, (2) we cannot continue to pursue the amnesty program for illegal aliens, (3) we need to revive Donald Trump’s Remain In Mexico Plan, (4) we need to end The Catch and Release program. Anybody caught a second time entering the country illegally needs to serve jail time, (5) finally, finish building the Border Wall.
8-Equality Between Men and Women
It seems like this issue should have been put to rest long ago, but it still comes up and still makes big waves. From women in the workplace making less than men to the problems of men wanting to take time off for parenting but finding that their traditional roles hold them in a place that frustrates them, there are problems on both sides of the gender. Add in the problems with violence against women and the backlash against men, even those who do not deserve it, and you have a discussion just waiting to happen.
9-Discrimination and Racism
It seems like this issue should have gotten better, but if anything, it has gotten worse. Racism flares up quite a bit lately, especially in terms of people of color, in what might be anything from simple misunderstandings to true corruption. Places like Ferguson, Missouri and Florida are hotbeds of the problem. Discrimination doesn’t just stop with color, it extends to religious beliefs, such as the backlash against Muslims in the country, as well as sexual preference as seen with numerous incidents of gay and lesbian couples facing social problems and even violence.
10-Individual Liberty vs. Government Control
Our freedoms are a hot-button issue these days, especially in regards to two points: the second amendment which allows the right to carry weapons, and the issues of gay marriage and whether it should be allowed. Government control is also a serious sticking point for many, especially in the wake of revelations by Edward Snowden, the whistleblower who made it clear just how invasive government surveillance of everyday citizens has become. Add in the problems of a “do-nothing” congress, and we are seeing political upheaval along every party line.
America’s Biggest Economic Challenge May Be Demographic Decline
Slower growth in the working-age population is a problem in much of the country. Could targeted immigration policy help solve it?
For many years, American economists have spoken of Japan and Western Europe as places where the slow grind of demographic change — masses of workers reaching retirement age, and smaller generations replacing them — has been a major drag on the economy.
But it is increasingly outdated to think of that as a problem for other countries. The deepest challenge for the United States economy may really be about demographics. And our understanding of the implications is only starting to catch up.
A new report from the Economic Innovation Group, a Washington think tank funded in large part by tech investors and entrepreneurs, adds rich new detail, showing that parts of the United States are already grappling with Japanese-caliber demographic decline — 41 percent of American counties with a combined population of 38 million.
At the national level, slower growth in America’s working-age population is a major reason that mainstream forecasters now expect the economy to expand around 2 percent each year rather than the 3 percent common in the second half of the 20th century. As a matter of simple arithmetic, lower growth in the number of people working will almost certainly mean slower growth in economic output.
But demographic change doesn’t hit everywhere equally. Besides the inevitable effect of the extra-large baby boom generation hitting retirement age and stepping away from the work force, decisions by working-age people can accentuate or lessen the impact of that underlying shift.
Many younger workers move to bustling urban centers on the coasts, leaving smaller cities and rural areas behind. Immigrants bolster the labor force but also disproportionately go to those same big coastal cities
“Dayton’s height of population was 1953, and we’ve seen stagnant growth for the region since 1990,” said Nan Whaley, the mayor of the Ohio city.
“A lot of people say this was just going to happen, that this is the way it is — I hate that comment,” she said, arguing that policy decisions had incentivized investment in coastal cities.
Over all, 80 percent of American counties encompassing 149 million people experienced a decline in the number of residents ages 25 to 54 between 2007 and 2017, according to the paper, which was written by Adam Ozimek of Moody’s Analytics and Kenan Fikri and John Lettieri of the Economic Innovation Group.
They project that the trends will continue, and that by 2037, two-thirds of American counties will have fewer adults of prime working age than they did in 1997, despite overall population growth in that period. (Their projections tried to take into account undocumented immigrants.)
Policies to encourage American families to have more children would help over the long run by increasing the supply of potential workers in the future. So could efforts to ensure that even struggling cities have the kinds of amenities young families desire, particularly good schools.
The population of different places is always fluctuating, and economists have traditionally viewed that as a mostly healthy process. Workers make their way to where they will be the most productive, enabling the overall economy to adapt and grow.
But people who study regional economies are increasingly concerned that some aspects of this wave of demographic change make the pain more severe for places left behind — which can get stuck in a vicious cycle.
“There’s a possibility that once local areas start on this downward spiral, it’s self-reproducing,” said Timothy Bartik, a senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
A shrinking supply of working-age people can prompt employers to look elsewhere to expand, making it harder for local governments to raise enough taxes to pay for infrastructure and education, and encouraging those younger people who remain to head elsewhere for more opportunity.
It raises the possibility that, if unchecked, these demographic trends might not merely reduce overall national growth rates in the decades ahead. They could also cause the left-behind cities to hit a point of no return that undermines the long-term economic potential of huge swaths of the United States.
The authors of the E.I.G. report suggest a potential solution: an immigration policy that would stop the vicious cycle. They propose that visas could be made available to skilled immigrants on the condition they go to one of the areas struggling with demographic decline. The idea would be to create growth in the working-age population in those places, increasing the tax base and the demand for housing, and giving businesses reason to invest.
“The real power of this is that it would start to change how investors, businesses and entrepreneurs view locational decisions,” said Mr. Lettieri, the president of the group. “They would know that there is this new pipeline for talent.”
Given hostility to immigration in large segments of the country, he said, places should be able to elect whether to make visas available to immigrants as part of an economic development strategy. It would have to be a “dual opt-in” approach in which both the community decides it wants more immigration, and individual immigrants elect to move there.
Dayton is the kind of place where that approach may just have some appeal. Ms. Whaley, the mayor, said a program called “Welcome Dayton,” intended to help immigrants move to the city, has been helpful in holding the population steady after a long pattern of losses.
Programs like that, she said, combined with a low cost of living and investment in community colleges to create qualified workers, can give smaller cities like Dayton the means to break out of demographic ruts.
Regardless of what one thinks about using immigration policy to try to arrest demographic decline, there’s a more basic point that everyone who cares about the United States’ economic future must wrestle with.
Demography may be the most powerful economic force of them all, and for much of the United States, the trend lines, for now, are pointing in the wrong direction.
The 8 Biggest Environmental Issues In The US
The United States—along with the rest of the world—is in the midst on an environmental crisis. Global warming is on the rise, pollution is deteriorating the ozone, and ecosystems are being destroyed. These issues could cause irreparable damage to our beautiful blue planet and to our very way of life. And we are the cause of most of it; that is the hard truth. It is more important now than ever to educate ourselves on these issues, starting with the eight found below.
8. Climate Change
Climate change is one of the biggest environmental issues currently plaguing the United States. Abnormal temperatures and extreme weather are largely due to human activity, such as the emission of greenhouse gases, which the US, along with China, produces the most of. Since the late 1800s, the average temperature has risen by one or two degrees Fahrenheit every year, a pattern which is only expected to continue. This temperature change can be erratic and vary on location, creating regional problems, like droughts which are particularly bad in the Southwest.
7. Air Pollution
Air pollution is the release of harmful contaminants into the air. Most of these pollutants are the result of industrialization: oil plants and vehicle emissions, among other things. According to a 2009 report released by the American Lung Association, approximately sixty percent of Americans live in areas with high levels of air pollution. This could lead to any number of health concerns, including respiratory issues, cancer, and even death. Air pollution is a nasty villain for major cities, particularly California; in fact, the top twelve most affected American cities are located in the Golden State.
6. Water Pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of various water sources by harmful and potentially deadly substances. There are any number of reasons for this type of pollution. For example, the United Nations estimates that eighty percent of the world’s wastewater—sink, shower, and toilet water—finds its way back into the environment without being properly treated. Other damaging substances include garbage and radioactive waste. In the United States, water pollution also occurs from oil spills and abandoned mines. In Colorado, these mines have polluted approximately 1,430 miles of stream. There are even public health concerns regarding the presence of lead in tap water in Michigan.
5. Soil Contamination
Soil contamination occurs when non-natural substances get absorbed into the earth. This could have disastrous effects on soil fertility and plant growth, which in turn impacts the surrounding wildlife. But it also impacts people as contaminates can easily find their way into our water and food supplies. As a result, there have been several reports of illnesses caused by soil pollution in New Jersey, Tennessee, and Montana to name a few. Industrialization and the boom of landfills are largely responsible, but everyday items such as pesticides and paint can cause significant harm to the environment.
4. Waste Problem
Every year, the world produces 1.3 billion tons of garbage, with the United States being among the most wasteful countries. In 2013, Americans generated 254 million tons of refuse. For comparison, China produced 190 million tons and their population is four times larger. It is a sad fact, but the average American household produces 65 percent of all garbage in the country. Landfills are filling at an alarming rate—particularly in the westernmost states—and are currently one of the leading causes of water and soil pollution. It does not help that they are kept relatively out of sight, concealing the seriousness of the problem.
Deforestation is the clearing or permanent destruction of forested areas. Since the 1600s, the United States has seen the removal of 75 percent of the land’s forests. The reasons for this range from urbanization to the selling of timber. In the southern states alone, deforestation as a result of industrial logging is four times greater than that of the South American rainforests. Furthermore, each year the overall population of the US grows by approximately 1.7 million people. More people increases the demand for more space, which ultimately leads to the destruction of trees. Other harmful causes are climate change and loss of biodiversity.l
2. Loss Of Biodiversity
Most—if not all—environmental issues are linked. Deforestation and pollution has led to a great loss in biodiversity, that is to say the elimination of some natural habitats and wildlife. Louisiana, North Carolina, and Florida are three states that continue to experience heavy losses. To make matters worse, about a third of all US plants and animals are at risk of extinction, with only five percent receiving enough attention from conservation efforts. Fish and birds have been particularly affected, but even small creatures like bumble bees—which have vanished by nearly ninety percent—are in danger. This impacts humans, too, as we depend on certain ecosystems for food and water.
1. Invasive Species
Animals that have been removed from their original countries, either on purpose or by accident, and brought to another are referred to as invasive species. With no natural predators in their new habitats, these foreign animals upset the established order of the existing ecosystem by destroying plants, killing animals, and introducing disease. Globalization is largely to blame, starting with the first European colonizers. Approximately 45,000 plants and animals have “invaded” the United States over the years, including the Burmese python, feral hogs, and lionfish. There are financial implications as well, with an estimated $120 billion spent every year on countering the damages.
What top US nonprofits think will be the biggest issues of the new decade
Just as the world around us continues to change at breakneck speed, so must nonprofits — when it comes to their priorities and fundraising methods — in order to adapt. From 2001 to 2011 the number of philanthropic organizations in the U.S. grew by 25 percent. That’s in comparison to for-profit businesses which rose by only half of 1 percent, according to the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.,-based think tank that conducts economic and social policy research. In 2012 the nonprofit sector provided 5.4 percent of the nation’s entire GDP at $887.3 billion.
Besides providing employment, nonprofits also possess a combination of strong community relationships and intimate local knowledge, and thus are able to provide the grassroots support for low- and middle-income communities that only these organizations can. Outside of these hyper-local efforts, nonprofits are now able to call upon a much wider community for support — social media users. This #GivingTuesday, nonprofits raised a whopping $511 million online in the United States, an increase of almost 28 percent from 2018. There were more than 20 billion social media impressions as #GivingTuesday was among the top trending topics on Twitter through most of that day, according to the Nonprofit Times.
We talked to a few of the top nonprofits that provide valuable resources in the United States and abroad to see what they consider to be the most important issues of 2020 — the first year of a brand-new decade. To learn more about each nonprofit and to make a donation you can click on their websites.
Amnesty International, a global movement comprised of millions of people that demand human rights for all people, is the world’s largest grassroots human rights organization. Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government affairs at Amnesty International USA, shares AI’s top priorities for 2020.
Tackling the climate crisis: “There are no human rights on a dead planet. It is all too clear that the climate crisis is already having an impact on basic human rights and disproportionately affects people already facing marginalization and discrimination. The crisis will only intensify unless we act immediately to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 and phase out fossil fuels well before 2050 through a human rights-centered transition to a green economy. The U.S. government must stop denying the crisis exists and enact policies that can preserve our future. It is essential that communities already most impacted by the climate crisis — including indigenous peoples, people of color and people with disabilities — are centered in deciding on climate solutions. Time is of the essence — the failure of governments to act on climate change in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence may well be the biggest inter-generational human rights violation in history.”
Ending gun violence: “One of the biggest issues in human rights in the United States is the rampant gun violence, which has become so prevalent that it amounts to a human rights crisis. There are too many guns, insufficient laws to keep track of them all and keep them out of the hands of people who intend harm. This leads to relentless violence. Communities have the power to end gun violence, but they need long-term financial and political support. What we should all be tackling in 2020 is advocating for a country where our loved ones and communities can feel safe, and this means common sense reforms at the federal, state and local levels to protect everyone’s safety, including background checks for the sale of every gun.”
Welcoming refugees and asylum-seekers: “If we want to live in a country where we look after each other, and everyone is treated with dignity, respect and fairness, we must all take steps to welcome refugees and asylum-seekers to this country instead of supporting policies that keep them out or detain them. We can and we must respond with compassion and respect for the people who arrive at our borders. People can support refugee resettlement and community sponsorship for refugees and helping those seeking safety establish new homes. People can also stand up for human rights in 2020 by condemning the separation of families, the detention of asylum seekers, particularly children, asylum agreements with other countries that force people to seek safety in countries where they will not be safe, asylum bans that limit people’s ability to even ask for asylum, and policies that force people to wait in dangerous conditions in other countries as they fight for their asylum cases in this one.”
Planned Parenthood is one of the United States’ leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care, and the nation’s largest provider of sex education. Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy, shares Planned Parenthood’s top priorities for 2020.
Access to abortion is at stake: “Support for abortion may be at an all-time high, but certain politicians are doubling down on their goal of trying to end access to abortion in America. Already, too many people across the country cannot access abortion, even though legally they have the right to do so. And from the statewide unpopular abortion bans sweeping the nation — many of which disproportionately impact women of color — to the Supreme Court taking up cases that could render Roe v. Wade virtually meaningless, abortion is on the line for 25 million women of reproductive age nationwide.
“Protecting access to abortion is about more than just one court case. We also need a strong ecosystem of providers, good state-level laws, judges on the courts who will protect our rights, ways of overcoming barriers for those who are low-income or face discrimination, and reproductive rights champions holding office. That’s why we need to fight like our rights depend on it, whether it’s volunteering for a local abortion provider or voting for candidates who will protect and expand reproductive rights.”
The attacks on birth control and Title X: “Though access to abortion is often one of the most-talked-about issues in reproductive health, access to birth control across the country is also at a critical point. Last year, the Trump administration imposed an unethical gag rule on Title X, the nation’s program for affordable birth control, the 50-year old program which helped ensure millions of people who were struggling to make ends meet could still afford birth control, cancer screenings, and other reproductive health care. The result was that it forced Planned Parenthood and a number of other providers out of the program, putting access for millions of people at risk. Not only that, but in 2018, the administration released sweeping new rules to cut the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee for birth control coverage, through which 63 million women access birth control. Courts have blocked the rules for now, but as with the attack on Title X, the administration will continue trying to put birth control out of reach.”
Sex education and accurate information for all: “In 2020, people of all ages need accurate information about sexual and reproductive health so they can make decisions — about their own health and about their elected officials — based on fact, not misinformation and misconceptions.
“As the nation’s largest provider of sex education, Planned Parenthood knows that every young person has the right to information and skills they need to protect their health. However, too many young people still aren’t getting any sex education at all, or they’re getting shaming, stigmatizing, and inaccurate abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. A 2016 study from researchers at the Guttmacher Institute found that the percentage of teens who received sex education dropped significantly over the last decade, particularly for those living in nonmetropolitan areas.
“We need to do better — and that starts with advocating for good sex education policies and funding, in every community. Over 90% of parents support sex education in both middle and high school, and the vast majority of parents, including Democrats and Republicans, want this education to include topics like birth control, healthy relationships, abstinence, and sexual orientation. This should be a non-issue in this country.”
Policies impacting global reproductive health care: “For better or worse, U.S. foreign policy has a huge impact on global health, and the worse comes as anti-abortion politicians use U.S. policy to aggressively push their extreme views on the rest of the world. The global gag rule is one such policy that has devastated sexual and reproductive health, and health systems across the globe — breaking down critical health systems, shuttering clinics, and even dissolving programs for HIV testing and treatment. This policy needs to be ended once and for all and prevented from ever being reinstated again.”
Democracy reform and voter suppression: “There is no question — democracy reform is critical. Voter suppression, from voter purges and the closing of polling places, and partisan (and often illegal) gerrymandering have left us with a small vocal minority pulling the levers of power. That’s how we end up with harmful and unpopular abortion bans — many of which disproportionately impact Black women — getting passed even though 77 percent of the American public supports access to abortion. It’s also how we see politicians push other harmful policies that hurt communities of color like mass criminalization. Reproductive justice groups on the ground have long understood this and have centered their fight for reproductive freedom around the barriers that Black women face, including voter suppression. And this isn’t happening in a vacuum — it’s happening while Trump is stacking the courts with anti-abortion judges positioned to chip away at our rights for a generation. We need fundamental structural democracy reform to ensure that every person’s voice is counted and that communities that have too long kept from the seat of power now have a seat at the table.”
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality. Alphonso David, their president and a nationally recognized LGBTQ+ civil rights lawyer and advocate, shares HRC’s top priorities of 2020.
The battles over non-discrimination protections for LGBTQ+ people: “In 30 states, LGBTQ+ people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services because of who they are. That’s wrong and that’s why HRC has been working with our partners on the federal level to pass landmark legislation like the Equality Act — which passed the U.S. House — and working with our partners in states across the country. This upcoming election will be critical to determining the path forward for LGBTQ+ equality. We must elect a pro-equality president and Senate to ensure that LGBTQ+ people are given the protections we deserve and desperately need. But HRC isn’t just waiting until 2021, we will continue to fight in states across the country to pass non-discrimination protections and pick up where President Trump has failed.”
Combatting violence against the transgender and gender non-conforming community: “In 2019, at least 25 transgender and gender non-conforming people lost their lives due to acts of fatal violence — a majority of these victims were black transgender women. We weren’t even 6 hours into 2020 before we saw the death of a transgender man in Oklahoma. HRC and our allies across the LGBTQ+, racial justice and gun law reform movement have been continuing to honor the lives of those lost and put forward commonsense policy ideas that can have a real impact on improving the safety of our community. And our efforts are bearing fruit: in 2019 attention to this issue hit a fever pitch with Presidential candidates addressing the issue on a debate stage for the first time in history. We are already hearing the conversation about those policy ideas and combat these attacks.”
Improving voting rights and access to the ballot: “Our election systems in some states are broken — where only some have the opportunity to truly have their voice heard. While we saw some progress in 2019 with multiple states restoring the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals, in too many states people are still being unnecessarily turned away from the ballot box. Voter ID laws hit the LGBTQ+ community particularly hard, especially transgender and non-binary individuals. We recently announced a partnership with Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight to boost our efforts to ensure that every individual, especially transgender and non-binary voters, has the ability to cast their ballot.”
C40 Cities is a network of 96 cities worldwide committed to delivering on the highest ambitions of the Paris Agreement and to limit global temperature rise to below 1.5 degrees Celsius. David Miller, their regional director of North America and director of international diplomacy, shares C40’s top priorities of 2020.
Bridging the income gap: “From the perspective of a climate organization, what we’re seeing are more and more extreme weather events in the United States today. It’s having a huge impact on people, particularly those who are from lower income communities. It’s a really significant social justice and equity issue, and also reinforces the need to act boldly on climate, which many of our member cities are doing.
“The weather events we’re seeing range from extremely serious and unprecedented fires to floods and everything in between. It’s clear from the lived experience in the United States over the last decade that the resilience of communities to respond and recover is really challenged when people suffer other challenges like being low income or being marginalized from power. It took years for some parts of Queens, low income neighborhoods, to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Yet, Wall Street recovered pretty quickly. This trend is going to get worse, and it speaks to a need to build resilience — to think about social equity and inclusion as we build our climate plan so the needs of the most vulnerable are met. It also speaks to the need to act much more aggressively, and quickly to mitigate climate change in the first place.”
Carbon neutrality: “I think we need to build on the kinds of principles that our organization has outlined in the discussion of a Global Green New Deal, and those principles are about doing what science says is necessary to combat climate change in urban areas. We must address building, transportation, how you generate electricity and how you deal with your waste.
“We need to pay commissions [on carbon prices] this year — that’s the biggest issue. The absolute number one thing that needs to happen on our path to having them by 2030 and being carbon neutral by 2050, and it’s entirely possible. The second principle we have is that you have to include people from every community, including ones that are traditionally disempowered. In order to address these challenges so their needs are met, including employment needs. We need to build that coalition beyond just the city governments to include neighborhoods and business.
“A few years ago, it was deemed inconceivable that the United States could convert its public transit fleets from diesel to electric, but because Los Angeles and others brought together a coalition of cities, we’re now seeing that it is less expensive over the lifetime of a bus to use an electric bus in a busy public transit fleet, and we’ve got at least three manufacturing facilities in the United States creating jobs, building electric buses. Those are exactly the kind of actions that build partnership with business, while thinking about the economic impact and doing the right thing for climate change mitigation.”
Having a climate plan: “The key issue is for all the major urban areas [in the U.S.] to have a climate plan by the end of this year, one that’s consistent with science. For the bigger cities that means picking your missions this year on the path that I mentioned, and those plans are only going to succeed if they’re done in a way that is inclusive of all people, and addresses social equity and inclusion. It’s important because this decade needs to be the decade of climate action between 2020 and 2030. The good news is we’re building on a strong base — there’s a lot of leadership from cities and mayors across the US, but we need to take that activity and build it to the scale needed to really address the problem.”
The 15 Biggest Failures of the American Public Education System
The world is in a constant state of change and those who fail to adjust fall behind. Unfortunately, the American public education system has not kept up with the times and is currently facing a number of serious problems. Keep reading to learn about the biggest failures affecting the modern U.S. public education system as well as some of the trends that could spark change.
Decades ago, the American formal education system was designed to meet the changing needs of the industrial revolution. What was once a time of growth has changed over the years and, with the current economic climate, that system is no longer able to meet modern needs. But what are the biggest failures of the American public education system, and how can they be remedied?
Policy makers are constantly fighting to make changes to the American public education system, and not all of them are beneficial. Over the years, there has been a great deal of back-and-forth that has left the public education system in shambles. Some of these problems are easy to identify and have been long-standing issues while others are new, brought about by advances in technology, changes in policy, and general change that happens with time.
Every story has two sides, and for every policy or program put into place there are going to be proponents and critics. Below you’ll find an overview of some of the biggest issues facing the American public system as well as arguments from people on both sides of the issue.
Here are the top 15 failures affecting the American public education system:
1. Deficits in government funding for schools.
Funding is always an issue for schools and is, in fact, one of the biggest issues facing the American public education system today. For more than 90% of K-12 schools, funding comes from state and local governments, largely generated by sales and income taxes. Research shows, however, that funding has not increased with need – many states are still issuing funding that is lower than it was before the Great Recession. Lower funding means fewer teachers, fewer programs, and diminished resources.
2. Decline in school safety.
There has been a string of high-profile mass shootings in American schools, resulting not only in dozens of deaths but many debates about school safety. In one poll, over 50% of teenagers said they were worried about the possibility of gun violence in school. Teachers all across the country are faced with the problem of figuring out how to prevent attacks and protect the lives of students and personnel. Some suggest special straining for teachers and concealed weapons might make schools safer while critics argue that more guns in schools could lead to more accidents and injuries.
3. Challenges with technology in education.
Today’s students have grown up using technology and have come to expect it in the classroom, but there are arguments about how large a role technology should play in education. Supporters suggest that technology creates the potential for more active student engagement and provides instant access to up-to-date resources while critics say it could be a distraction. While technology in the class room certainly has its benefits, certain aspects of technology are challenging. For example, smartphones and easy access to technology have made it easier for students to cheat and can negatively impact learning.
4. Controversy over charter schools and voucher programs.
Another hot topic in education today is school choice. Charter schools and school vouchers allow parents to choose options other than traditional public schools for their children. Charter schools are funded by a combination of private and public funds and operate outside the public-school system. School vouchers allow parents to use public funds to send their child to a school of choice, including private schools. Critics of these schools suggest that charter schools and voucher programs siphon funds away from public schools that are already struggling financially.
5. Problems with common core curriculum.
The Common Core State Standards were developed to specify exactly what students should know before graduating high school. It was developed in 2009 to promote educational equity across the country, holding all students to the same standardized testing requirements. Some see the problem as federal intrusion into the state control of education and others say that it doesn’t allow for teacher innovation and flexibility with the learning process. Most states adopted the standards when they were introduced but more than a dozen have since repealed or revised them.
6. Decreased teacher salaries.
Teacher salaries are by no means impressive and, in most states, they have decreased steadily over the past few years. In fact, research shows that the average salary for public elementary and secondary school teachers dropped by nearly 5% between the 2009/10 school year and now. States like Oklahoma and Colorado experienced a 17% and 16% decrease – these states also saw massive teacher walkouts in 2018. There are, of course, some states where teacher salaries increased, and some teachers received a growth in benefits that may or may not be enough to balanced out wages that are low overall.
7. Emphasis on standardized testing.
Along with Common Core, there has been an increased focus on standardized testing, especially during the No Child Left Behind years. Schools and teachers are judged based on student test scores which, many argue, is not a fair or accurate measure of efficacy. Many critics argue that standardized testing is one of the biggest problems in American education, suggesting that the pressure to produce high test scores leads to a teach-to-the-test approach and reduced focus on non-tested subjects like art.
8. Arguments about teacher tenure.
Tenure is designed to protect teachers from being fired for personal or political reasons – the school district must demonstrate just cause. In many states, tenure is granted to public school teachers who have consistently received satisfactory evaluations, though some states don’t award it at all. Supporters suggest that tenured teachers can advocate for students without having fears of reprisal while critics say that it makes it harder for school districts to dismiss ineffectual teachers. Some also suggest that tenure may encourage complacency, allowing teachers to put forth minimal effort.
9. Bullying in schools.
Violence in schools is a rising issue and bullying is a key contributor. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, over 20% of students in grades 6 through 12 have been bullied either in school or on their way to/from school. This figure is actually down from 32% in 2007 but is still much too high. The challenge with these statistics is that many students who are bullied do NOT report it. Bullied students experience a wide range of physical, behavioral, and emotional problems that can impact not only their education but also their lives.
10. Growing problems with student poverty.
According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, more than 50% of the public-school population in the United States was made up of low-income students. This is a significant increase from 38% in 2001. This is a nationwide problem with 40% of public-school students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches in 40 states. In 18 of those states, student poverty rates were over 50%. Studies have shown that low-income students tend to perform lower than affluent students and family income shows strong correlation with student achievement measured by standardized tests.
11. Schools are overcrowded.
In the 2011/12 school year, the average class size in American public schools was about 21 students in elementary school and almost 27 students in secondary school. Anecdotal reports, however, suggest that classrooms today have closer to 30, and in some cases, 40 students. Teachers and other proponents of smaller class sizes suggest that class size influences the quality of instruction with smaller class sizes having improved student outcomes. Critics say that the cost of limiting class sizes is a limiting factor and that it may not be worth it. In Florida, class sizes were capped in 2002 but a 2010 study showed no significant impact in test scores for students in grades 4 through 8.
12. Student mental health challenges.
Mental health is a growing concern in the United States and one that even affects school students. A 2018 study showed that nearly two-thirds of college students experienced overwhelming anxiety and anxiety has been reported in younger students as well. Even schools that are trying to make a difference face challenges. For example, the recommended ratio of students to counsellors is one counselor for every 1,000 to 1,500 students but the U.S. college campus average is 1,737 to 1. Awareness of mental health issues is increasing, but there is still a stigma that prevents many students from seeking care.
13. Parents are not involved enough.
Teachers in public schools can only do so much to support their students. When the students go home for the day, the state of their home life can impact their development both personally and academically. In cases where parents lack higher education, they may not be able to provide the assistance students need to learn and to complete homework. Students in low-income families face additional challenges at home, though even middle- and upper-class families aren’t off the hook. In many families, parents are too career-focused and have little time to spend supporting their child’s education.
14. Too many schools are being closed.
Schools all over the country are closing their doors in numbers that are quite alarming. This only leads to an increase in issues with large class sizes and poor access to resources. It is easy for parents, teachers, and communities that are affected by closures to feel targeted even when school board members provide unbiased data. In some cases, closures cannot be prevented but they can be delayed and communities should consider other solutions or alternative uses for the school such as a community center or adult education center.
15. Lack of teacher innovation and outdated teaching methods.
The teaching methods used decades ago simply do not work for the modern student. One of the biggest things holding back the American public education system is a lack of teacher innovation, partially created by enforcement of standardized testing and Common Core curriculum. Unfortunately, the problem really needs to be addressed at the federal level with changes to policies that will result in change within the public education system. America needs teachers who are better trained to meet the needs of their students and who are willing to speak up and facilitate change. Teachers are on the front lines and, without them speaking up, change is not possible.
Problems abound in the American education system, but growth and change are possible. Keep reading to learn about the top emerging trends in the nation’s public education.
The Top 5 Emerging Trends in Education
Though the American public education system certainly has its issues, it is by no means a lost cause. The only thing anyone can do is change with the times and there are a number of emerging trends in education that could be a step toward resolving some of the issues above.
Here is an overview of the top 5 emerging trends in American education:
- Increase in maker learning initiatives.
- Moving away from a letter grade system.
- Changing classroom approaches like flipped learning.
- The institution of micro-credentials.
- Growing concern for social and emotional development.
Now, let’s take a quick look at each of these trends.
1. Increase in maker learning initiatives.
In many schools, teaching is the focus when education should really be focused on student learning. Maker education allows students to follow their own interests and to test their own solutions for problems in a do-it-yourself approach to education. Students learn in collaborative spaces where they identify problems, create inventions, make prototypes, and keep working until they have the final result that works. There is little hard evidence on the trend as of yet, but it is growing quickly.
2. Moving away from a letter grade system.
Student assessment is necessary to test the efficacy of teaching strategies and curriculum – it is also a good way to measure individual student growth and success. For many years, letter grades have been the primary method of student assessment but that is changing. Leaders in education currently feel that the traditional letter grade model is not a sufficient measure of the skills most highly valued in the modern workforce – skills like creativity and problem solving.
In 2017, the Mastery Transcript Consortium was formed and includes over 150 private high schools. These schools have adopted a digital system that provides qualitative descriptions of student learning and samples of work instead of the grade-based transcript system. Public schools are quickly adopting the trend as well in a nationwide shift toward mastery-based or competency-based learning.
3. Changing classroom approaches like flipped learning.
The traditional model of teaching places the teacher in front of the class giving a lecture, followed by students working at home on assignments to enhance their understanding of the subject. Flipped learning involves students watching videos or relevant coursework prior to class, using class time to expand on the material through group discussions or collaborative projects. Flipped learning allows students to control their learning pace and encourages students to learn from each other, exploring subjects more deeply than they otherwise might.
4. The institution of micro-credentials.
This trend in higher education is a departure from traditional college degrees that require years of study over a multi-year span. Micro-credentials, rather, are also known as digital badges or nanodegrees that demonstrate knowledge or skill in a given area and are earned through short, targeted educational offerings. About 20% of higher education institutions offer some kind of alternative credentialing system, often partnering with third-party learning providers.
5. Growing concern for social and emotional development.
Traditional education is focused on academics but there is a movement toward nurturing the whole study called social-emotional learning (SEL). This movement is based on the growing consensus that schools have a responsibility to protect and develop students’ social and emotional development in addition to their cognitive skills. SEL focuses on helping students manage their emotions, show empathy, set goals, identify their strengths, and make responsible decisions. Research on SEL shows a reduction in anti-social behavior and an improvement in academic achievement and long-term health.
The United States is a giant country with a huge population, making it difficult to standardize education or make improvements across the board. Though there are many problems with the American public education system, there are also many people (including legislators) who are dedicated to making positive changes that could benefit the future students of this country.
Why income inequality is America’s biggest (and most difficult) problem
Bold prediction: Rising inequality of income and wealth will be the most important political battleground over the next few decades.
Just take a look at the figures. The share of income accruing to the top 1 percent increased from 9 percent in 1976 to 20 percent in 2011. The richest 0.1 percent controlled 7 percent of the wealth in 1979 and 22 percent of the wealth in 2012. Meanwhile, there are a number of studies out there showing that the most effective way to reduce this inequality would be higher taxes on income and wealth, but the rich won’t let it happen.
Consider also this: The rise of income inequality and wealth inequality are intimately connected, and causes all sorts of problem over the long term. As Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman write,
Income inequality has a snowballing effect on the wealth distribution: top incomes are being saved at high rates, pushing wealth concentration up; in turn, rising wealth inequality leads to rising capital income concentration,which contributes to further increasing top income and wealth shares.
In a comedy bit on wealth, Chris Rock claims, “You can’t get rid of wealth.” The empirical research on the question largely supports his assertion. In “The Son Also Rises,” Gregory Clark finds that wealth remains in a family for 10-to-15 generations and notes,
Groups that seem to persist in low or high status, such as the black and the Jewish populations in the United States, are not exceptions to a general rule of higher intergenerational mobility. They are experiencing the same universal rates of slow intergenerational mobility as the rest of the population.
But, of course wealth and income inequality weren’t always as bad as they are today. What happened? In a word: cheating. Although many people try to explain rising inequality away by arguing we live in a winner-take-all economy or that inequality is the result of skill-biased technological change, these arguments are bunk. Inequality has been driven by public policy choices that favored the rich, the decline of unions and the rise of finance. As the chart below shows, tax rates on both income and inheritance were high during the relatively equal ’60s, ’70s and ’80s and then fell dramatically paving the way for the inequality we see today
The best way to reduce inequality would be to tax income and wealth. While conservatives often claim that this would reduce economic growth, such claims have very little economic support. For instance, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Stefanie Stantcheva find no correlation between economic growth and tax cuts. Because of this, they find, “the top tax rate could potentially be set as high as 83%.” (Chart Source)
Nobel Prize-winner Peter Diamond argues that the top marginal tax rate could safely breach 73 percent, and indeed, such a rate might even be “optimal.” Another recent study finds the top marginal tax rate could be as high as 90 percent. Republicans sometimes claim that inequality is necessary for economic growth; in fact, the evidence suggests rather the opposite is true: High levels of inequality imperil growth.
But, here’s the problem: The same political forces that allowed the 1 percent to take our political system hostage have only worsened in the past decade. As Nick Hanauer notes in a recent Intelligence Squared debate,
At the same time, the percent of — of labor — the percent of GDP devoted to labor has gone from 52 to 42. So that difference is about a trillion dollars annually. So that — here’s the thing you have to understand. That trillion dollars isn’t profit because it needs to be or should be or has to be. It’s profit because powerful people like me and [Edward Conrad] prefer it to be. That trillion dollars could very easily be spent on wages. Or — or on discounts for consumers. This isn’t a consequence of some magical law of economics. This is a consequence of differentials in power.
Nick hits on a very important point: The rising concentration of economic power has coincided with a concentration of political power. A recent paper by Adam Bonica and others illustrates that as inequality has increased, the rich have spent more money on the political system:
As Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels and Jason Seawright recently found that the wealthy tend to be more economically conservative than the population at large. But a particularly startling finding is that, “on economic issues wealthy Democratic respondents tended to be more conservative than Democrats in the general population.” The wealthy are using the political system to turn their income into wealth and then that wealth into more wealth. They’re going to keep doing it, unless we stop them. One solution is to reduce the massive turnout gap between the rich and poor.
Studies show that states with more low-income turnout have higher minimum wages, more generous child health insurance programs and stricter anti-predatory lending policies. They also have more generous welfare benefits. The fight against inequality will be a long one, but the first step is turning out to vote — the most radical step one can take in our country is actually believing democracy is more than just an idea.
After researching this article I have come to the conclusion that the only consensus that their is today is that our country needs a great deal of work. You can ask 10 different people what is wrong with our country and you will get 10 different answers. I have written several articles on reform in this country and what people in the past and the present have done to try and ruin our country. One thing that I do know is that our country has to come first. We can’t keep on hemorrhaging money all over the world, if we are going to fix our country. We also can’t keep on spending trillions of dollars fighting endless wars overseas. To make MAGA a reality we need to come first. No other country in the world puts themselves second. Why should we?
pewresearch.org, “Views of the major problems facing the country,” By PEW Research Center; www2.deloitte.com, “Top national issues in 2021 and beyond: Looking ahead with 2021 vision;” enkvillage.org, “Top 10 Social Problems in the United States,” By Tina; nytimes.com, “America’s Biggest Economic Challenge May Be Demographic Decline,” By Neil Irwin; worlatlas.com, “The 8 Biggest Environmental Issues In The US,” By Nathaniel Whelan; thehill.com, “What top US nonprofits think will be the biggest issues of the new decade: From tackling the climate crisis to protecting the trans community, here’s what needs to be addressed this year,” ByAusta Somvichian-Clausen; publicschoolreview.com, “The 15 Biggest Failures of the American Public Education System,” By Kate Barrington; salon.com, “Why income inequality is America’s biggest (and most difficult) problem,” By Sean Mcelwee;
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