How our nation treats its children reflects our societal values. Children can't vote. They depend on us -- parents, grandparents, pediatricians, teachers, and other child health advocates and professionals, to do right by them.
With just 10 days until the election I'm still waiting for the speech I had hoped to hear -- from any candidate, of either party, in any race. With time running out I'm growing doubtful, so just in case, I've tried to at least imagine it.
While a lot of attention this election season has been given to rifts between right- and left-leaning neighbors, men vs. women, and black vs. white, the most profound and troubling divide in Washington, D.C. is between rich and poor.
Congress in 2011 mostly ignored the 16.1 million poor children and the 7.3 million extremely poor children in need. We cannot leave millions of children without hope or a vision of a future worth striving for in our materially powerful but spiritually poor nation.
America's Report Card sets itself the task of educating Americans about the status of its children, and in this respect it is a wake up call. But the report limits itself to the policy recommendation of "we must do better by our children." I'd like to connect dots and draw lessons.
The Center for Children in Poverty estimates that we have lost all of the gains we made over the past 50 years in child well-being. We've lost opportunity. We are facing a crisis that demands an urgent response in these politically charged and polarized times.
A report card marked with too many C's and D's is not something to boast about. Unfortunately, those are just the kinds of grades America brought home yesterday, earning an overall C- in a new report released by Save the Children and First Focus.
It shouldn't take a teachers' strike to remind us that cutting school nurses and social workers, substituting test-prep for afterschool enrichment, and making classes so large that teachers cannot have individual time with students, are the worst education policy choices we could make.
Citizens must demand that every political leader state what they will do now to invest in and protect vulnerable children from hunger, homelessness and poor education. It's way past time to eliminate epidemic child poverty and the child suffering, stress, homelessness and miseducation it spawns.
The choice -- and it is a conscious choice -- to ignore the problems facing poor Americans comes at a moment when those problems are not only multiplying but also as more and more people find themselves either teetering on the abyss of poverty or falling into it entirely.
I cannot pretend there is an easy fix to get our poverty rate down, which is at the highest level in at least 63 years, because there certainly isn't an easy fix and it won't become any easier regardless of who is president.
In the 1988 campaign, both George H.W. Bush and Michael Dukakis emphasized child care. As the Romney and Obama campaigns now sprint towards November 6, the opportunity remains for them to discuss the child care needs of American families.