Voters need to test candidates on how their policies will support seniors

In the coming weeks, our state’s elected leaders – from governor to senators and representatives – must face the voters and win their support in the November elections. There are many important issues confronting our state, including negative economic growth, huge debt in our state employees’ and teachers’ pension funds, aging infrastructure, high taxes at both state and local levels, and diminishing state financial support of our towns. However, it is becoming increasingly evident that to make Connecticut’s recovery a reality, we also need to keep our seniors from moving away.

It is not more guards we need. It is more understanding.

It is shocking that our nation has just experienced the worst anti-semitic attack in our history. One would hope that by this point in time our nation would be so much better than this. Clearly, that is not the case. The Connecticut Council for Interreligious Understanding calls upon every leader and every person to face up to the meaning of the events in Pittsburgh. The murders at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh make it clear that our country is awash in hatred and primed for violence. This is not the country we want or expect.

Babies don’t vote—we need to vote for them 

Election Day is coming up, and adults across Connecticut will be casting their ballots based on the issues that matter most to them. Babies, however, don’t get a say in what comes next. So it’s up to us grownups to vote on their behalf. What we know about the importance of early learning has changed drastically over the years. We used to think that a child’s education started when they entered kindergarten. Then, we began to recognize the value of preschool. Now, thanks to illuminating science on brain development, we know that education starts much earlier.

We have income tax fever because the real issues are boring

I have to admit that I am confused by this year’s election season income tax fever in Connecticut. I have heard over and over how 2018 is the moment where jobs and economic growth will be the major concern. So my question is: why are we constantly talking about the income tax? What does the income tax have to do with creating jobs? I conducted my own very unscientific research to find companies that would expand or create new jobs and facilities in Connecticut only if the state cut the income tax. I could not find one.

On the soft bigotry of low expectations in schools

If you were moving into a new area and talking to your child’s new principal who said, “I’m proud to tell you that only 65 percent of our children fail to meet district standards in reading and writing,” how excited would you be about sending your child to that school? Yet, according to Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Clarice Silber, in their excellent review of where we stand in Connecticut with magnet schools, “Statewide, 35 percent of students were at grade level in reading and writing.”

Voters! Combat outside campaign spending with critical thinking

Freedom of Speech is meant to safeguard democracy, to protect people’s ability to freely engage in public discourse and govern themselves. But when outside donors (often unknown and untraceable) inject substantial sums to influence my community’s elections, such donors overstep the prerogative of choosing their representatives and encroach upon my community’s process of choosing our own.

Parents, your kids are failing math, reading, and writing!

Parents, you need to wake up and get in the game. Your child’s future is at stake. Or, your child will become one of the negative statistics. In some cases it is appropriate to blame the education leadership — especially the commissioner, superintendents, principals, and collective bargaining units — for the ineffective system. However, the love of learning must start at home with parents. It is the parent’s responsibility to make education their priority over all other activities. It is the parent’s responsibility to set high expectations for their child’s behavior and learning and it is the parent’s responsibility to be a positive role model for the child in helping to shape the child’s opinions and attitudes about learning.

Support for the autism community must be bipartisan

From the late 1980s and early 1990s, awareness about autism increased because of the hard work by families, professionals, and self-advocates. As a result, the community became powerful enough to influence the U.S. Congress. Since those eras, more methods like Affinity Therapy and Lego Therapy has been accepted and old methods like Applied Behavior Analysis improved to help future generations. As someone who is majoring as a disability specialist, I am excited to work for the autism community. Despite this excitement, I have a fear in the back of my mind. It involves the current political climate of the country and the possibility of autism policies becoming more partisan, instead of something legislators in both parties generally support.

Overcoming Citizens’ United will require a bipartisan solution

Thirty-nine Connecticut General Assembly candidates, have pledged to vote in 2019 legislative session for the Free and Fair Elections Resolution, which would make Connecticut the sixth state to call for a national convention for the exclusive purpose of proposing a commonsense, nonpartisan U.S. Constitutional amendment on federal campaign finance reform.

What the flu does to your body, and why it makes you feel so awful

Every year, from 5 to 20 percent of the people in the United States will become infected with influenza virus. An average of 200,000 of these people will require hospitalization and up to 50,000 will die. Older folks over the age of 65 are especially susceptible to influenza infection, since the immune system becomes weaker with age. In addition, older folks are also more susceptible to long-term disability following influenza infection, especially if they are hospitalized.