Voters got a hint this morning of what they might be getting for Christmas: a 10-month general election!
According to the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, his historic delight comes courtesy of South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Katon Dawson, who's expected to announce this morning that he's moving his state's primary ahead of Florida's (take that, Sunshine State!) to Jan. 19.
The move is expected to trigger a chain reaction that will make New Hampshire and Iowa push their primaries up even further. It is also expected to add grey hairs to the heads of all presidential campaign strategists.
As Allan Lichtman, history professor at American University, told the Washington Post in response to the news, "If you are facing a moving chessboard, it's pretty difficult to know where to make your first move."
So here's a crazy idea: Keep the chess board the same size, and move the general election up a couple months. That way everyone wins. The campaigns can keep their plans more or less intact, the candidates won't have to raise quite as much money, and best of all, we get an early replacement for the president whose ex-president father, according to the New York Times this morning, "likens himself to a Little League father whose kid is having a rough game."
Selling Universal Pre-K
You've got to love Americans. Tell them that guaranteeing all children access to pre-kindergarten is the right thing to do, or the best way to narrow the gap between rich and poor, or an especially effective tool to create social justice, and they go running for the door. But tell them it's a "prudent investment," as the Wall Street Journal reports that more and more educational and political leaders are doing, and they're suddenly as attentive as 4-year-olds being read "Goodnight Moon."
A growing number of states are implementing universal pre-kindergarten programs, and 38 of them now help localities fund pre-school, the Journal reports. "The movement represents one of the most significant expansions in public education in the 90 years since World War I, when kindergarten first became standard in American schools."
While only 55 percent of American 3- and 4-year-olds attend preschool, 80 percent of those whose parents make over $100,000 a year do, the Journal reports, showing that the level playing field ends very, very early in life. The leaders of the universal pre-K movement want more children -- and many want all children --to be in school before the age of 5.
Hispanics Move To The 'Burbs
Meanwhile, USA Today reports on a demographic trend that's sure to complicate the political push for universal pre-k and many other educational reforms. Census numbers released today show that rapidly growing numbers of Hispanics are fanning out across the eastern half of the country and settling in rural and suburban counties "far from traditional immigrant strongholds."
Many of these areas haven't seen much diversity until the last decade, so their residents are kind of freaking out. To give you some indication of just how badly, the paper reports that 41 states have enacted 171 laws this year aimed at illegal immigrants.
"It put immigration on the front burner politically," said William Frey, demographer at the Brookings Institution, of the shift. "It scared a lot of people."
And the fear isn't just about clashing ethnicities. A high birthrate among Hispanics accounts for half of the growth, and as young Hispanics settle in places where the aging population is largely white, the generation gap widens, the paper reports.
"It's affecting school budgets and creating new needs that impinge directly on local taxpayers," said Peter Morrison, demographer at RAND Corp., a think tank. "The frictions will be almost palpable at the local level."
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