KC hosts progressive conference

Kansas City democrats flocked to Penn Valley Community College for a progressive conference, focusing on advocacy and action. Organized by State Rep. DaRon McGee, this event featured three breakout seminars on affordable housing, quality education and direct democracy.

Culminating in a keynote speech from U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II, this was an informative event that attracted young political science students from UMKC and around Kansas City.

Lawrence Marsh, Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, kicked off the conference with a talk about economic inequality. For the audience of about 100 people, the content was familiar.

Marsh spoke about the failure of “Reaganomics” and the vast post-tax income gap in America. Since 1980, the bottom 50 percent of earners saw their income increase by just 19 percent in almost 35 years, while the top 1 percent of earners saw an increase of 190 percent during the same period of time.

The enthusiastic delivery of economics was well received by attendees. Heads were nodding and hands were clapping when Marsh got fired up, criticizing the idea that people who receive help and money from the federal government are lazy or somehow don’t deserve it.

State Rep. DaRon McGee organized the Kansas City progressive conference.

State Rep. DaRon McGee organized the Kansas City progressive conference.

“We’re all trying to do something,” declared Marsh, who went on to say that enhancing automatic stabilizers like food stamps and unemployment insurance will have a positive effect on the economy because. According to Marsh, enhancing automatic stabilizers will reinvigorate the middle class and the economy when they have the ability to start spending more again.

After about 50 minutes of speaking, leaving the listeners feeling like they could call up the Treasury Secretary and the Speaker of the House to help reform our economy and tax code, the attendees were set loose to attend one of three seminars.

The Education seminar was hosted by a Penn Valley Community College professor, and featured administrators from metro area schools. Topics of discussion included charter schools, student performance and the inequity of resources between school districts. With the conversation hinging on socio-economic statuses of students across the inner city school district, important factors of race were addressed. Attendees learned how majority-minority school districts like that of Hickman Mills, which currently serves 210 homeless students, variables such as affordable housing should take center stage.

The panel of administrators made their opinions on charter schools abundantly clear, with the Hickman Mills representative declaring that she was “not sure if there would be a Hickman Mills” if charter schools entered the area. A vice principal from Northeast middle school stated that diversity in the classroom and a shift of conversation towards teachers and resources was critical.

Cleaver II wrapped up the day with a speech addressing a myriad of issues ranging from Charlottesville to DACA.  He emphasizes the need for a strong democratic turnout in the 2018 midterms to take back both chambers of the U.S. congress and winning democratic majorities in state legislatures across America.

 

samuel.wyatt.ast@mail.umkc.edu

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