The starkest insult to women during the election season wasn’t the torrent of crass misogyny at the podium; rather, it was how little the supposedly “populist” campaign politics ignored the hardships burdening half the population. But women did win something on Election Day, when given opportunities to bypass the hateful blather and invoke direct democracy on key minimum-wage and child-care policies.
Cincinnati voters approved an initiative to boost school funding that directly invests $15 million into the expansion of universal preschool for about 6,000 children, covering the vast majority of citywide demand for services. It is funded by a modest property tax (residents decided preschool was worth raising taxes by $5 weekly on a $100,000 property).
Noting that the measure won the district by a 24-point landslide (larger than Clinton’s margin), campaign organizer Brewster Rhoads says via e-mail, “No question that in the midst of a victory for Donald Trump in Ohio and the country, the passage of a major initiative [to expand preschool and school funding] demonstrates that the voters understand the importance of education, not just for themselves but for the future of our community.”
The grassroots alliance backing the initiative, led by the United Federation of Teachers and AMOS, a faith-based network of racial-justice and community groups, established a “People’s Platform for Universal Preschool” through community outreach and public consultations, aimed at building a community consensus to ensure fair working conditions for providers (with $15-an-hour wages) along with quality and access for parents. The campaign linked labor and family in a way that resonated beyond campaign rhetoric, pushing early-childhood care as a social intervention, along with demands for criminal-justice reform and fairer wages. The proposal ensures 3- and 4-year-olds from the city’s distressed working families have an early pathway toward closing the education gap, while offsetting child-care cost burdens (about $6,000 to $9,000 annually) that ultimately limit parents’ work opportunities.
Dayton approved a landmark preschool expansion for 1,600 children through a small payroll tax costing about $1.60 a week for a worker earning $35,000 annually. The initiative, backed by a national labor-community coalition led by SEIU, American Federation of Teachers and community advocacy groups, was promoted through a grassroots canvassing effort covering tens of thousands of voters and won by a larger margin than Trump did in the county, so voters who might generally bristle at tax hikes decided their kids were worth the extra $1.60 a week on a $35,000 yearly salary. (It’s also cost-efficient for individual families, facing typical monthly daycare costs of around $179.)