YEO Policy Academies 2013 Retreat Program Book - Page 4

2013 YEO Policy Councils In order to better target our policy support for YEO Network members, we have created five Policy Councils focusing on key issue areas. These issues were identified as priorities by YEOs in our annual membership survey, and represent shared policy interests and goals. We believe that this approach of targeting specific issue areas will contribute toward strengthening the impact that young electeds can have on promoting the American values of freedom, fairness, and opportunity in their own communities, and as a collective force in the progressive movement. Empowering and Educating Communities (early and K-12 education) Over the past few years, we have seen a growing movement to privatize education, undermine teachers and unions, and funnel money to unregulated schools. These developments, along with an increasing achievement gap, a number of underperforming school districts, and a growing distrust of public education among many Americans, have created new challenges for our public education system. In 2013, elected officials will face a number of education policy challenges, including the implementation of common core standards, the potential reauthorization of No Child Left Behind, and continued school funding gaps. They will also face new opportunities, including a renewed focus on early education and a commitment to the eradication of violence and bullying in schools. The Empowering and Educating Communities Council will navigate these ideological and practical challenges, and work to find common ground and solutions that serve our children and students first. Defending Workers and Families (economic justice, budget and tax reform) Conservative lawmakers all over the country have taken aim at the rights of workers and families, and at the services and benefits on which many Americans depend. In recent years, we have seen a wave of policy initiatives aimed at busting unions, cutting employee benefits, lowering minimum wage standards, and cutting workers’ compensation claims. We continue to struggle with damaging “Right to Work” campaigns and fight to extend basic benefits to workers, including paid sick days and leave. We also continue the battle for economic and social justice for all Americans, in debates over pay equity and equal benefits for LGBTQ or non-traditional families. The Obama administration has voiced its support for raising the minimum wage and emphasized the importance of balancing deficit reduction with progressive and fair reforms that promote growth. The Defending Workers and Families Council will continue to build on this momentum and work to protect and improve the lives of all American families. -2-