The Weekender: Teacher pay, health care gets more local + how Sonic got a mushroom-blend burger

‘The Weekender’ spotlights what you might have missed on BirdDog and why a few headlines from elsewhere matter for Tennessee.

From BirdDog

Long lines and a mobile clinic: Tennessee’s dentist shortage reshapes how people get care

Outside of Tennessee, other states such as Minnesota and Alaska are trying to close the access to care gap in their own rural areas by credentialing a new-to-the-U.S. type of clinician: the dental therapist.



From Elsewhere


1.  Oklahoma teachers end walkout, shift from marching to running for office

Sean Murphy, Associated Press

Some Oklahoma teachers are gearing up to run for the state legislature after a two-week walkout — the latest in a string of protests over teacher pay that started in West Virginia.

Excerpt: “The largest teachers union is calling for its members to shift their focus to electing pro-education candidates in November.”

In Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam increased the minimum teacher salary to $33,745 under the 2017-2018 budget — raising the floor for what districts have to pay teachers.

At the time of the legislative vote, Barbara Gray, president of the Tennessee Education Association told Chalkbeat “it is unacceptable for teachers to have to choose between the profession they love and their ability to keep the lights on at home or send their own children to college.”

Teachers in Tennessee ranked 40th for wage in a 2016 study by the Economic Policy Institute, that found educators earn 70 percent of what other college graduates make on average. Comparatively, Oklahoma teachers made 67 percent of other college graduates.

The study found that nationwide, weekly wages for public school teachers fell from being 1.8 percent lower than other college graduates in 1994 to 17 percent lower in 2015.

Food for thought: The Urban Institute highlights in a study from this month, the discrepancy in educator wages, particularly for early childhood teachers who play a pivotal role in setting an educational and health foundation young children.


2. N.J. lawmakers vote to Trump-proof Obamacare. Now it’s up to Murphy.

Susan K. Livio,

The New Jersey legislature is the first in the country to pass a bill to establish a health insurance mandate at the state level.

Excerpt:The state legislation mirrors the federal “individual mandate” included in the Affordable Care Act, which requires individuals to buy a policy if they do not have one or face a fine at tax time. The law was meant to ensure younger and healthier people who might otherwise forgo insurance will participate in the insurance market, stabilizing it sharing costs.”

Other states are mulling different routes: some would loosen regulations, others would keep protections under the ACA.

Modern Healthcare’s Shelby Livingston rounds up a variety of efforts from across the country in 50 shades of healthcare: Bit by bit, the Affordable Care Act is being remade.

Dave Boucher and Joel Ebert at The Tennessean chronicle an attempt by Gov. Bill Haslam to revive legislative talks on expanding Medicaid — a 2015 policy failure that left at least 400,000 working Tennesseans in the so-called coverage gap.

Reminder: Tennessee mandates drivers to have a minimum level of car insurance.


3. How the Government Is Quietly Changing What Foods Americans Eat

Leslie Patton, Bloomberg Businessweek

Getting a mushroom-beef blended burger at Sonic? The new menu item — on-sale nationwide (and pictured at the top) — is the result of a project that took Sonic Drive-In more than two years, and the help of the Mushroom Council, to develop.

The Mushroom Council, a farmer-funded organization, is one of the creations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get farm goods into broader markets. But the organizations, which are behind promotional campaigns like ‘Got Milk?’ are coming under scrutiny from farmers who have to participate.

The ‘Signature Slinger’ burger, which clocks in at 340 calories for the version without bacon, is also indicative of another push to make Americans’ diets healthier and more environmentally friendly.   

NPR Here’s Why Environmentalists Are Cheering The Latest Burger At Sonic Drive-In


Photo: The new Slinger Classic, a burger blend of mushroom and beef, at Sonic. Photo courtesy/Sonic Drive-In

%d bloggers like this: