Let’s all be pro-life | Opinion – PennLive

let’s-all-be-pro-life-|-opinion-–-pennlive

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By Jill Sunday BartoliIn this beautiful season of renewal and re-birth, let’s all pledge to be pro-life in the fullest Judeo-Christian tradition. Just as we have beautifully embraced the children and families from Afghanistan and Ukraine, let’s embrace children and families here in Pennsylvania.Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children reports that PA is one of 10 states with increased numbers of children living in concentrated poverty. We are ranked 30th with nearly 20% of our children in poverty. True pro-life legislators would work tirelessly to reverse policies that have pitched children into poverty.Pro-life legislators can create a more fair and just tax system that does not continue to widen the unconscionable gap between the very rich and everyone else. They should invest in our children by supporting the Child Tax Credit and Build Back Better. In PA, they can support a budget that puts people first, like the one Gov. Wolf proposed.Pro-life legislators should also reverse their appalling lack of investment in education. Where other states invest 50% of their budget in public education, PA invests a pitiful 35%, starving the rural and urban schools in poor communities, and forcing already struggling families to pay higher property taxes.Besides being 47th in the nation for inequity in school funding and 30th in child poverty rates, PA is an alarming first in hate propaganda, according to the Anti-Defamation League. After the violent attack on our capitol by insurrectionists wearing Camp Auschwitz and Trump t-shirts, and after the Tree of Life attack, you would think lawmakers would embrace our rich diversity, rather than causing division and hate.Instead of supporting children and schools, some PA lawmakers are fueling the radical growth of white supremacist hate propaganda, and the widening cultural, economic, gender, race, and political divisions in our state and country.These lawmakers are attacking critical thinking about our deep, historic racial divides, making up bogus lies about Critical Race Theory (which is only taught in law schools). The bills they put forth further pit us against each other, rather than unite us in support of our children.If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it is how precious our teachers are for the education and well-being of our children. Parents and grandparents struggled as they tried to educate children without benefit of the years of professional development teachers have.Even before the pandemic, many citizens realized PA public schools were underfunded. This was clear when we saw which schools and students had access to on-line learning, the only option during the pandemic.In the City of Harrisburg, teachers were driving to the homes of students to give them Chromebooks and assignments to continue learning. In rural schools, teachers went to equally heroic lengths to provide access to learning. We learned the reality of the unfair and unjust economy created by our legislators that leaves so many low-income children behind.Teachers are our best defense against the forces of hate, bigotry and propaganda. When autocrats have sought to control and silence the public, when dictators have tried to control the minds of children and youth with their lies, when books and creative, inquisitive thinking are banned, we need our good teachers more than ever.Legislators are currently proposing and signing into law bills that would foster discrimination against already victimized and abused students, at the same time that their policies continue to drive more children into poverty. Children and democracy are in peril when free, truthful, honest speech is prohibited and autocrats are in control. We used to be the land of opportunity, but we have rising poverty and unequal access to education, jobs and upward mobility.We desperately need our great teachers—and parents--to encourage students to delve deeply into issues, to thoughtfully evaluate evidence and sources, to provide many opportunities for free inquiry, to support the freedom to dissent and to be different, and to help our children understand what democracy looks like. We need to give them hope to fight the despair that threatens to consume them.We need to demand from legislators policies that lead to a fair and just economy and to fully funded public schools. More than ever before, we need to elect legislators who tell the truth and represent “we the people” who are pro-life for all suffering children.Let’s make America kind, compassionate, caring and united again so our children can learn and prosper, our teachers can teach, and our democracy can strengthen and flourish. How can we do that?1. We can demand that legislators are truly pro-life for all of our children, not only for the unborn.2. We can support our teachers and our public schools, because their goal is to open minds to diversity, democracy, truth and understanding.3. We can support candidates for office who value building a united democracy, telling the truth, stopping the violence, and ensuring all children have opportunities to grow, learn and succeed in life.4. We can reject candidates who spread lies and fuel hatred and division—candidates who seek power and wealth at the expense of the very people they are sworn to represent.The future of our democracy depends on an educated citizenry using their voting power to make legislators accountable to the people.We need to have faith in that sacred opportunity and in our free and fair elections, despite the absurd and costly attempts to discredit them.This is the time for all of us who are pro-life to stand up and be heard. This is the time for true democratic values of equal representation and equal opportunity to be put into action. The future is in our hands.Jill Sunday Bartoli is professor emeritus at Elizabethtown College.Note to readers: if you purchase something through one of our affiliate links we may earn a commission.
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