Thursday, July 31, 2003
Jane Parker, vice president of Monterey''s Planned Parenthood office, has officially entered the race for County Supervisor of District 4, which encompasses Seaside, Marina, Sand City, Del Rey Oaks, and a portion of south Salinas.
Parker has been active in the community since moving back to the Peninsula in 1991. She has served on the Monterey Peninsula College Board of Trustees and the Social Services Commission, acted as president of the Charitable Council, Board President of the Unitarian Universalist Church, and volunteer leader for the Carmel Bach Festival, and has founded and managed a food service for poor families and homebound seniors.
If elected, Parker says she has a whole list of priorities, from bringing more affordable housing to the community to ensuring the excellence of local schools.
"My experience and background in education, healthcare, community service, and business has given me the expertise and insight necessary to protect our services," Parker says. "At a time when the county and the state face a serious budget crisis, we need creative leaders who can balance a budget while protecting the essential services our public expects and demands."
Her list of supporters includes 25 community leaders, including former Assemblyman Fred Keeley, Dina Eastwood and former Salinas Mayor Alan Styles.
Seaside Mayor Jerry Smith and Hartnell College Trustee Darlene Dunham are both competing with Parker for the seat. The election takes place in March 2004. [NP]
Head of Local Head Start Attacks ''Reform'' Bill
A bill to reform Head Start could doom the national pre-school program, according to the program''s local director.
Ricardo Tellez, director of Head Start in Monterey County and board member of the California Head Start Association, says the bill, which was passed by the US House of Representatives at 3am on Friday, July 25, is bound to hurt the program.
(The bill passed by one vote, from a Republican representative who had to be wheelchaired in from the hospital at the last minute.)
The so-called reauthorization bill, which is required every three years, was introduced to the Senate on Tuesday, July 29, and is scheduled for a vote when the Senate returns from its August recess.
"If this passes, it will not be a good future for Head Start," Tellez says.
"This is definitely not the way to go and it is likely that the reauthorization bill will hurt the quality and high standards that Head Start has maintained.
"In my six years of experience working with Head Start children, I have never once felt the program needed to be reformed so drastically. Head Start has given thousands of children on California''s Central Coast a chance to build up on their strengths and, in my experience as an administrator and a member of the community, is one of the most successful programs ever created to help the neediest children."
Many people have come out against the bill, including the National Head Start Association and countless Head Start staffers and parents. Congressman Sam Farr, who voted against the bill in the House, continues to speak out forcefully against it.
"This is a bad idea, and the fact that people who work with this incredible organization are coming out strongly against it should indicate to the Republican leadership that this is not the right approach," Farr says.
The new bill will fundamentally change the way Head Start gets its money. Currently, the program is funded directly by Congress. Under the new plan, it would be funded through block grants to states, which will decide how to disperse the money.
Considering that 47 out of 50 states are in severe deficit, according to Farr''s office, it is almost certain that this plan would result in a cut to Head Start funding. Also, since Head Start will now be funded through block grants, each state can legally do whatever it wants with the money.
"With this bill, the Republican leadership wants to gamble with that success by assigning block grants to states and allowing them to apply the funds to untested and unproven pre-school programs," Farr says.
"Head Start has been one of the most successful federal programs in helping to educate both young children and their parents."
The NHSA currently represents over 900,000 children, 190,000 staff members, and 2,500 Head Start programs nationwide. The success of the program has been so great, in fact, that 26 percent of the staff at Head Start are or were Head Start parents. [NP]