Monday night, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced that a grand jury had decided there was not enough probable cause to indict police Officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old who was fatally shot on August 9, 2014. In response to the decision, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Steve Fox, Chief Executive of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, issued the following the statement: Read more…
The grand jury in the Ferguson case is expected to meet today in what could be its final session. If a decision is made, it will likely not be made public until at least Sunday because the prosecutors are expected to provide law enforcement 48 hours notice. The FBI has warned that the decision will likely lead to violence by some individuals and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has already declared a state of emergency and activated the National Guard. As we approach this decision, it is important to reflect on how we can address the root problems that allowed the August 9 shooting and subsequent events to occur. The reports and articles below discuss what we can learn from Ferguson, how we can improve police and community relations and why it is important to prevent discrimination and promote diversity.
Next Wednesday, I am flying home from Washington DC to Boston to celebrate Thanksgiving. One of my family’s Thanksgiving traditions is to wake up a little earlier than my younger brother and sister would like and volunteer for Little Brothers of the Elderly, a non-profit that sends volunteers to the homes of elderly men and women throughout the Boston area to ensure that they have a happy Thanksgiving
A recent comprehensive state-by-state report sponsored by the National Center on Family Homelessness at American Institutes for Research shows that the number of homeless children in the country has reached a record high, amounting to one in thirty children being homeless! This means that 2.5 million children in the United States go to sleep without a home of their own each night, a historic high in the number of homeless children in the U.S.
From 2012 to 2013, the number of children experiencing homelessness annually in the US increased by 8% nationally and increased in 31 states as well as in the District of Columbia. But, every state has children experiencing homelessness, with estimations indicating that about half of homeless children are under the age of 6.
As the graduate from a public high school, I know what the impact of public schools can have on a person. At Newton South High School, I was fortunate enough to have many fantastic teachers, to participate in a number of extracurricular activities, to receive a high quality education that well prepared me for college as well as for my job, and to make great friends, many of whom I am still close with today. My public school education made me the person who I am today.
The number of children attending public schools is at a record level – and it’s growing. This fall, about 49.8 million students are attending public elementary and secondary schools. Yet, many of these schools, especially those that serve children in poverty, are underfunded, overcrowded, and rundown with underpaid, and overworked teachers.
Children represent an incredibly important part of the country, for they are one-quarter of the population. Beyond the numbers, children will be our next generation of workers and leaders. The share of federal funding directed towards children has declined and today amounts to under 8 percent of the overall budget.
In 2013, over 14.7 million children in the US were poor in 2013, and the majority of those children lived in families with working parents. 1 in 5 children in the US are currently living in poverty and 1.3 million school children are homeless. This high child’s poverty rate costs our country half a trillion dollars every year in lost productivity as well as in extra health and criminal justice costs; money that could better be spent on creating or implementing programs that could truly benefit these children and set them on a path towards progress.
With a few days’ distance from the 2014 midterm elections, we are beginning to put the results of this election in context — for what it means for Congress, state legislatures, state laws and of course our work to advance social justice in the United States. The day after the election, Rachel Laser, Deputy Director of the Religious Action Center released a statement welcoming the resounding success of three key state ballot initiatives and noting our long history of working successfully with members on both sides of the aisle to advance shared priorities. We look forward to another exciting chapter in Washington, D.C. and in the states.
On Thursday, Rachel Laser moderated a conversation between RAC Director Rabbi David Saperstein, Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights Executive Vice President and Director of Policy Nancy Zirkin and RAC Senior Advisor Michael Horowitz. To watch the exciting conversation, visit our Election Day resources page, or watch it here:
As we look forward to Congress coming back for one last session in 2014, we need to think about future actions that Congress can take to pass policies that can positively impact Americans and can ameliorate economic inequality. One potential measure is the Earned Income Tax Credit, a refundable credit. Since the EITC only benefits individuals in the workforce, the antipoverty measure is seen as helping encourage people to work and to participate in the workforce. This federal credit applies to low and moderate income workers by encouraging work, offsetting federal income and payroll taxes, and ultimately increasing family income. The EITC increases as a low-income workers’ income level rises and is slowly phased out, meaning that a worker can eventually earn too much to be able to qualify for this.