Grab their feet, I'll light the fire

Those of you with the stomach for it know that if you follow right-wing rhetoric by politicians long enough, you can pick up on the latest inaccurate claims du jour. But for a long time, many of us dismissed their talk as transparent hyperbole unworthy of attention or feared that repeating their nonsense would make it seem more legitimate. As a result, last year, our state spent millions in taxpayer money for legislators to debate imaginary problems like voter fraud and we've seen state laws crippled by rumors, myths and religious beliefs.

I believe it is time to systematically start calling out elected right-wing politicians on their distortions of the facts while pointing out how much their manipulation of the truth is costing taxpayers. We must get the word out to ordinary, middle-of-the-road North Carolinians so that they understand these sound bites are nothing but strategic lies. You and I understand that right-wing leaders have gotten far by distorting the facts and will continue to lie until they are confronted. But most North Carolinians do not understand this -- and their own moral code makes it hard for them to believe that their elected officials would lie to them to the extent that they are.

A Case In Point

Right now, one of the most pervasive right-wing soundbites making the rounds is the idea that Pre-K education is “government funded babysitting.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Study after study has proved early intervention through education increases school performance and graduation rates, improves parental involvement in academic achievement, keeps kids out of jail and eventually leads to jobs and higher salaries for at-risk North Carolinians. However, the Heritage Foundation and other thinly disguised right-wing “research” organizations are distorting legitimate research reports and spreading misinformation about Pre-K. Why? Because many of the right-wing politicians pushing education cuts and so-called “reforms” are heavily funded by donors who operate private schools and who would benefit financially from any contraction in public services.

Don't let them get away with this. For studies on the benefits of early education, please visit this link and write to newspapers in your area with the facts. And if you would like to join a group of volunteer letter writers to address this issue, or other progressive issues for that matter, please e-mail me at for more information on our LTE outreach program. We can give you sample letters, talking points and more. We'd also love to work with any other LTE efforts being mounted by other organizations. Let's start countering the far right’s disingenuous 2012 talking points now with common sense and the truth. At the very least, we can make it harder for them to get away with it.


Great points!

I think looking at who stands to gain financially is almost always helpful in finding out why policies are getting pushed.

And we definitely shouldn't let elected officials get away with not telling the truth. Not only do we have to fight back against soundbite lies defensively, we have to get our message out there more offensively and effectively.

Agreed and the education lobby studies should be questioned.

They have a vested interest as well. How did we ever survive without Pre K? If you don't like the Heritage foundation studies there are others that say the same thing, any gains from pre K are quickly lost in later grades. This is from my search on the internet, I'm sure that there are other studies that say the same thing.

Here's some more research for you. From the internet. :)

Social Programs That Work

The Abecedarian Project, which is referenced in the above link, is one evidence-based study that showed that high-quality preschool experiences made a difference for children from a disadvantaged background.

Effects of the Abecedarian Project

At age 21, the study found that educational and life outcomes for the children receiving the child care/preschool treatment (groups (i) and (ii)) were much superior to outcomes for the children not receiving the child care/preschool (groups (iii) and (iv)). The results are summarized below. By contrast, the school-age treatment alone had only a marginal impact.

The first five years of life is the most important for brain development. When children don't have good experiences in that time period, they are not as well prepared for school and for the rest of their lives.

This doesn't mean that children need to be in pre-k. But sometimes, pre-k is a good option for children whose families cannot provide those experiences.

Who's "we", kemosabe?

"We" survived without pre-K back in the old days by working jobs that didn't require formal education, or education at all.

In the textile industry, busting sod, mining about you use your Internet search skills to get a statistical breakdown of labor sectors in the year 1900 (before the Federal Reserve and the New Deal), 1850 (before the abolition of slavery), 1780 (before the hateful federal Constitution), or whenever your personal conservative golden age was.

Garner, NC

I wouldn't recommend drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me. -- Hunter S. Thompson

No we survived without it because it's not needed.

Schools should be for education only not social experiments. Pre K is simply a free day care, the kids are taught how to blow their nose and tie their shoes.

Education is a social experiment

Don't piss me off today, Mr. Burns. A few more dumb ass comments on issues you know nothing about and you'll be looking for another place to practice your spelling.

honest to god, Frank

That comment was unworthy even of you. You know better than that.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

Head Start works

Perhaps if you had attended Pre K you might have actually read the 1995 article you referred to.

The results for white children suggest that the potential gains are much larger than the costs, since even a small decline in the high-school dropout rate has the potential to pay for itself in terms of future wage gains. If the factors preventing African-American children from maintaining the gains they achieve in Head Start could be removed, the program could probably be judged an incontrovertible success.

What the authors suggest is that poor K-12 schools erode the academic gains for African-American children. They explored this further and demonstrated it in a subsequent 1998 paper: School quality and the longer-term effects of Head Start.

Significant changes were made to Title I Funding for poor schools with Clinton's "Improving America's Schools Act of 1994" and Bush's "No Child Left Behind Act of 2001". Subsequently H.R. 1429: Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 went a long way towards making Head Start a more robust and beneficial program.

Exactly, Greg

The problem is not with Head Start. Or Pre-K. The problem is that there is not robust follow-through with public K-12 funding.


What's the best site around for someone who wants easy access to all the editorial pages (letters to the editor) and elected officials.

One of our challenges is to make it really easy for people to shoot out an email or an LTE. Who has the best resource for this?

Some LTE resources:

Right now, I'm working on pulling together a connection hub for writing letters in NC and to elected officials. SALSA has a nice feature that allows you to automatically connect based on just your zip code, but alas it will not be ready for at least a month as we are just now in the beginning stages of setting up our SALSA account. In the meantime, what I have found is that the most effective letters (i.e., with the most impact to persuade other people to pay attention or change their minds) are sent to SMALL local newspapers, where you also have a better chance of getting published, and those size publications are often left off the automatic LTE lists anyway. So I recommend that people google contact info for their local papers, and that they follow the length guidelines (which vary from paper to paper) and going from there. There's not a paper on the planet that does not accept emailed LTE's these days.

I have, however, found one terrific resource for advice on writing LTEs on progressive issues, and that's the move-on help page at

Once you click on the Media main menu option, a sub-menu will appear that offers you a number of resources:

Media How to reach out to the media
Media Guide
Sample script for calling a reporter
Principles of staying on message (Word document)
Principles of staying on message (Word document)
Letter to the Editor Party Guide
Placing an Opinion Editorial Guide
Media resources from other progressive organizations:
Making an Impact through Media (Video from the Center for Progressive Leadership)
Menu of media tutorials (Spin Project)
Tips on writing news releases and advisories (PDF from the Spin Project)
Online tool to for find local news organizations (Progressive Democrats of America)
Tips on getting news coverage (CODEPINK)

So many battles to fight; so little time!

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action

Lead, follow or get out of the way....

More LTE info

In addition to, I would suggest advocacy tools and other good info. I have seen other national issue sites offering various lists, resources to state sites. I will post others when I get a chance. Here is a start.

Lists of all types of media in NC

Winning Progressives ---
"When progressives organize, everyone wins"
"this blog is all about providing information about progressive policies and encouraging you, the readers, to use the information to send the message of strong and sensible progressive values to the American public."

The Op-Ed Project ---
Top 100+ online and print publications submission and other info -
Tips for Op-Ed Writing - "Letters to the Editor Made Easy" ---
"provide you the platform to pick the publication, compose the letter on-line and send it to the editor exactly as you have written it (without inserting the name of this site anywhere). We also provide you the platform to publish your letter on this site"

NewsLink ---
List of all types of media in NC

Wow -- those are great

Thanks so much for posting those resources, Steve.

Communications directors at other groups: these resources make calling out GOP lies about your issues easier.

Katy Munger,
Progress North Carolina Action

Lead, follow or get out of the way....