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Just before Thanksgiving, the Denver Post ran an op-ed by two senior political strategists, Hank Brown and Barry Jackson, that looked at first as though it might explore federal policy issues from a children’s perspective:
"Earlier this month, voters pressed the "reset" button on their government in Washington. Exit polls showed we were concerned about the economy and whether our kids are going to be better off than we are. …"
But it started going downhill right after that. In the next 800 words or so, the op-ed outlined a policy agenda on nearly a dozen federal issues that matter for children – from health care to the federal budget. But not once in those 800 words did the word children appear again. Instead, the authors laid out an agenda that ignored children’s needs and interests entirely.
Campaign for Children president Bruce Lesley and I developed an op-ed that responded nearly point-for-point, taking a look at most of the issues raised by the original authors’ op-ed, but from a children’s perspective. The text of that op-ed, as submitted to The Post, appears below.
The Post was interested, but they don’t run op-eds rebutting op-eds. The commentary editor was gracious about it, and she’s right – if their opinion page became a forum for running debates on some issues, they’d never have the space to explore other issues.
The paper offered to consider a 150-word letter-to-the-editor, and we gratefully agreed. That letter, retaining our op-ed’s focus, ran this week.
As the letter observes, the problem isn’t Brown and Jackson. It’s that they’re emblematic of a national political debate where kids’ interests serve to get readers – and voters – interested, but then forgotten when the time comes to build a policy agenda.
Crafting the op-ed was a really liberating experience for Bruce and me. It reminded us that it’s not only important to call politicians and political operatives when their policy agenda doesn’t back up their rhetoric on children, but it’s also doable, interesting to journalists, and pretty darn satisfying.
It’s also the only way the conversation will ever change.
Campaign for Children Op-Ed as Submitted
Hank Brown and Barry Jackson (“Here's what the new Congress should do,” November 25th) are right: voters about children’s futures. The problem with their commentary is that their policy agenda ignores children entirely.
Our own polling confirms what Brown and Jackson report. Responding to our December 2013 survey, two-thirds of voters expressed concern that our children’s lives wouldn’t be better than our own. Bipartisan supermajorities of voters also endorsed the protection or expansion of critical federal investments in children – from the Children’s Health Insurance Program (Child Health Plan Plus, in Colorado) to Head Start, the Child Tax Credit to child abuse prevention and response.
Unlike voters, Brown and Jackson ignore the actual policies that would help children in Colorado and nationwide. But their agenda provides a useful forum to explore what a Congress serious about helping children might prioritize.
Taxes: tax policy accounts for nearly 40 percent of all federal investments in children. Just two tax provisions, the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit, lift millions of children out of poverty every year and serve as economic lifelines for millions more in moderate- and middle-income working families. Brown and Jackson ignore them, but in a new Congress serious about responding to voters’ concerns for children, they’d not only be on the list of tax priorities, they’d top the list.
Regulations: there are nearly 23,000 homeless children in Colorado (nearly 1.3 million nationwide), but the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s “homeless” definition excludes most of them. Homeless children face the same horrors as homeless adults, but because they don’t fit HUD’s regulatory definition, they’re denied counseling, food, clothing, and other basic supports. Unlike Brown and Jackson, some in Congress are paying attention – the bipartisan Homeless Children and Youth Act would fix the definition, so homeless children can get the help they need. A Congress serious about helping children would act quickly to send it to President Obama for enactment.
Immigration reform: nearly one-fourth of children in America are children of immigrants, so helping children succeed means ensuring that children of immigrants succeed. The comprehensive immigration bill passed last year by the U.S. Senate would have eliminated the fear and trauma experienced by children whose parents are detained and deported, avoided unnecessary placements in already-struggling child protective services systems like Colorado’s, and improved legal protections for children in immigration hearings. A Congress serious about children’s success would ensure that it gets a vote in both chambers.
Welfare reform: true reform means ensuring that parents will never face a choice between work and meeting their children’s basic needs. With more than 220,000 Colorado children living in poverty – and one-in-five nationwide – a Congress serious about protecting children would only pass additional welfare changes that are paired with a national commitment to cut child poverty in half within a decade and increased access to child care.
Budgets: just eight cents of every dollar the federal government spends is spent for the benefit of children. Worse yet, we’re the ones who tell Congress that every year in our “Children’s Budget” report, because there is no official accounting of how budget decisions affect children. Legislation creating an official children’s budget has languished in Congress for years. A Congress serious about children would pass it immediately.
Health care: Brown and Jackson focus predictably on Obamacare. They ignore that federal funding for Colorado’s Child Health Plan Plus (the Children’s Health Insurance Program, or “CHIP” nationally) will end next year. CHIP is bipartisan – created by President Bill Clinton and a Congress led by Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich – it’s a model of state flexibility, it’s a true private-public partnership, and it works, having reduced child uninsurance in America, even as child poverty skyrocketed. A Congress serious about children would extend CHIP funding immediately.
These aren’t the only issues that matter for children. And Brown and Jackson aren’t the only political observers whose talk about children isn’t backed up by their policy priorities. Neither one of those is the point. The point is that national politics in America is too often like Brown and Jackson’s commentary – passing mention of children without a focus on how policy debates actually affect children.
Let’s demand more. Let’s challenge the new Congress to take positions on these critical children’s issues. Let’s challenge them to expand the agenda to include issues like child abuse and neglect, education, home visiting and early childhood, and a concrete plan to reduce child poverty. Real change that will actually improve children’s lives begins with voters who demand action – not just lip-service – for children.
Eight years ago, I led a research effort at Spitfire Strategies that informed the development of the Just Enough Planning Guide. That tool – built by Spitfire with funding from the Moore Foundation – offered an accessible and effective resource for nonprofit campaign planners.
Well, it just got better. The new Planning to Win guide, launched this month by Spitfire, is still easy to use, and it still challenges nonprofits to choose the best path to victory and build a realistic plan that aligns with available resources. And – thanks again to the Moore Foundation – it’s still totally free. But Planning to Win offers some important upgrades – here are my three favorites:
1. Sharper focus on charting your course to a win, which informs better decisions about tactics, partners, profile, and everything
2. Better integration of guidance on managing opposition and engaging partners
3. Web-based platform makes it easier to collaborate with partners anywhere, anytime
Whether you’re a seasoned campaigner who wants to make the process accessible to colleagues and partners, or whether you’re planning your first campaign, this tool can help. Check it out and spread the word!
Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize, so it’s no surprise that he knows a thing or two about communications. His column today was nominally about party politics, but the same lesson is also important for kids’ advocates: if you want to win, drop the pessimism.
Expanding on these themes on today’s Morning Joe, one of the other guests observed that candidates are getting the opposite advice from their advisors. Pollsters and political operatives look at the pessimism reflected in the poll numbers and caution candidates avoid sounding “tone-deaf,” by reflecting that pessimism back to voters. But, as Robinson rightly observes, exceptional communicators like President Ronald Reagan (and FDR and Winston Churchill, and many others) spend at least as much time shaping popular opinion as they do reflecting it.
A great example of the potential of this approach to strengthen children’s issues advocacy is the Narrative Project funded by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and Spitfire Strategies. As a Mathematica Policy Research evaluation details, participating advocates found that consistent use of positive messaging contributed to their policy wins.
That experience validates Eugene Robinson’s fundamental observation: we’re all involved in shaping the conversations around our work, so let’s use our voice to accelerate progress and leave the naysaying to the naysayers.
I don’t often agree with Senator Ted Cruz, which is why I didn’t rush to watch his CPAC address. But when I heard he’d led off by challenging the audience to stand on principle, I decided to watch the video. I’m glad I did, because from the perspective of children’s advocacy communications, Ted Cruz is right.
Some housekeeping details first. No, I don’t agree that the President is siphoning hope out of America. And no, I don’t think Senator Bob Dole and Senator John McCain are empty suits.
But when you move beyond the hyperbole, Senator Cruz’s speech offered three great lessons for child advocacy communications. They’re easy to remember if you think about them as three Ps: position, passion, and power.
The stated objective of his speech was to convey that winning means taking a position, not hiding behind passive language and ambiguous phrasing. This is no less true when the aim is winning public policy debates. Voters look to political candidates for solutions, not just analyses. As advocates, our audiences – policymakers, journalists, partners – want the same thing. As the senator told the CPAC crowd, “when you don’t stand and draw a clear distinction … [your opponents] celebrate.”
Senator Cruz’s speech also illustrates the importance of passion. Watch three minutes of his CPAC address (or, in the interest of bipartisanship, three minutes of President Obama’s 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote), and you’re reminded why psychologist and political messaging guru Drew Westen concludes that it’s the heart, not the mind, that motivates action. In short, Senator Cruz sounds and looks like he believes what he’s saying and that it’s critically important. If we aren’t conveying the same passion, we aren’t getting as much as possible from each communications opportunity.
Finally, he offers a way for the audience to connect with their own power. Toward the end of his remarks, he urges listeners to text or Tweet #MakeDCListen. Is that going to change the world, or even advance one item on his policy agenda? Nope. But it gives every person in the room a doable way to move off the bench and into the game. If they get some positive feedback – a thank-you text, a retweet – some of those folks might do more down the line. Whether it’s a petition or a phone call, a Tweet or a meeting, our communications must also give our audience a way to find and express their own power to make change happen for children.
I don’t agree with everything – or even most of the things – Senator Cruz told the CPAC crowd. But we’d miss a real opportunity if we ignore these simple lessons:  Take a Position;  Show Some Passion; and  Help Your Audience Connect with Their Power.
This blog was published by First Focus Campaign for Children, a bipartisan organization advocating for legislative change in Congress to ensure children and families are a priority in federal policy and budget decisions.
The presidential candidates participated on Wednesday in the first of three presidential debates. This debate was focused on discussing domestic policy, but among the discussion of the economy, jobs, education, and taxes, one critical issue was overlooked: our nation’s children.
Specifically, Pres. Obama and Gov. Romney failed to bring up the incredibly prevalent issue of child poverty. Today, 1-in-5 children live in poverty. This number has risen consistently over the past few years. According to a recent analysis by our partners at First Focus, the national child poverty rate has risen from 18 percent to 22 percent between 2007-2010. But even in light of these troubling statistics, it took 75 minutes for Romney to mention poverty for the first time during the debate, and neither he nor Obama addressed child poverty the entire evening. Romney listed additional statistics on the number of people enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP- formally known as food stamps) and other governmental assistant programs, but failed to mention that 47 percent of SNAP recipeints are children, and how these programs benefit kids and significantly reduce poverty.
Two children's topics did receive limited attention during the debates: health care and education. The candidates were most vocal about their desires to improve the education of our nation’s children:
"But what I've also said is let's hire another 100,000 math and science teachers to make sure we maintain our technological lead and our people are skilled and able to succeed. And hard-pressed states right now can't all do that. In fact we've seen layoffs of hundreds of thousands of teachers over the last several years, and Governor Romney doesn't think we need more teachers. I do, because I think that that is the kind of investment where the federal government can help." -Obama
"And so if we take a balanced approach, what that then allows us to do is also to help young people, the way we already have during my administration, make sure that they can afford to go to college.
It means that the teacher that I met in Las Vegas, a wonderful young lady, who describes to me -- she's got 42 kids in her class. The first two weeks she's got them, some of them sitting on the floor until finally they get reassigned. They're using text books that are 10 years old.
That is not a recipe for growth. That's not how America was built. And so budgets reflect choices." -Obama
"Well, first, I love great schools. Massachusetts, our schools are ranked number one of all 50 states. And the key to great schools, great teachers.
So I reject the idea that I don't believe in great teachers or more teachers. Every school district, every state should make that decision on their own." -Romney
"My own view, by the way, is I've added to that. I happen to believe, I want the kids that are getting federal dollars from IDEA or Title I -- these are disabled kids or -- or -- or poor kids or -- or lower-income kids, rather, I want them to be able to go to the school of their choice.
So all federal funds, instead of going to the -- to the state or to the school district, I'd have go, if you will, follow the child and let the parent and the child decide where to send their -- their -- their student.
While making the contentions that education for our kids is an investment (Obama), schools can’t succeed with 42 kids per class and 10-year-old textbooks, and great teachers make great schools, it is clear that both presidential candidates believe investing in the education of our children is a worthy cause. However, both Pres. Obama and Gov. Romney offered little concrete policy changes that they would implement in order to improve the educational system. Everyone can agree that improving education is good, but what we should do about these improvements is an entirely different matter." -Romney
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was discussed between the candidates during the debate on Wednesday evening. Obama explained that under the ACA, children would be able to stay on their parent’s health insurance plans until they were 26-years-old, but this explanation was one of only times children under the age of 18 were mentioned with regards to the new health care legislation. Neither candidate mentioned Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), both of which aid children in receiving access to quality medical care. Since Medicaid is currently facing cuts (through the sequester scheduled for January 1st) and CHIP is up for reauthorization, these programs were prime targets for discussion in last night’s debate. However, both candidates shied away from breaching either of these topics.
We at the First Focus Campaign for Children weren't the only ones to notice the debate was short on talk about kids. Many individuals and great organizations like Momsrising used the Twitter hashtag #kids2012 to discuss what issues didn't come up while watching the debate. And the Washington Post published an article today on the issue, Poverty Goes Missing at Denver Debate.
According to a recent poll by First Focus Campaign for Children, 63 percent of potential voters think the presidential candidates are not focusing enough attention on children. However, according to Children’s Budget 2012 a report issued by First Focus, only $0.08 of every federal dollar is spent on children. The financial stability, educational success, and health quality of our children all require investment. The federal budget does not reflect these investments as high priorities. We need to switch these priorities, and this could start in the presidential election. As Pres. Obama stated during the debate, our priorities make a difference. Let’s show that children are a priority for all of us during this presidential election.
In addition to monitoring the issues of importance to children and families, those of us concerned about children should continue to push the candidates to give us more detail about what their plans are for ensuring the next generation of children is not left worse off. Let’s ask the debate moderators to actually ask questions about the problems facing real families with children in this country. Here is how to reach the moderators. Use the hashtag#kids2012.
Second presidential debate (town meeting format):
Tuesday, October 16, Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY
Moderator: Candy Crowley, Chief Political Correspondent, CNN and Anchor, CNN’s State of the Union
Third presidential debate:
Monday, October22, Lynn University, Boca Raton, FL
Moderator: Bob Schieffer, Chief Washington Correspondent, CBS News and Moderator, Face the Nation
The 2012 presidential and vice-presidential candidates will participate in a series of debates in the coming weeks to showcase to voters where they stand on important policy issues. Three of the debates will focus at least in part on domestic policy, which means three great opportunities for candidates to put kids front and center. And that's what America wants to hear about; a recent First Focus Campaign for Children poll found that 63 percent of the country's voters want the candidates to focus more on children. That's why we’re partnering with the Commission on Presidential Debates and MomsRising.org to host a virtual DebateWatch on Twitter for the presidential and vice presidential debates.
DebateWatch 2012 will immediately follow the debates in an effort to engage parents, kids’ advocates, and other Americans across the nation. This is a chance for us to harness the political power and knowledge of small-town democracy! We will be talking and tweeting with local organizations about the candidates’ positions – or their lack of positions – on the priority issues for kids.
Avoid the whirlwind of mainstream media and get involved in the conversation. All you have to do is watch the debates (October 3rd, 11th, and 16th – all from 9:00-10:30pm EDT), search for the hashtag #Kids2012, and speak up about the federal children’s issues that matter most. Log onto Twitter to tweet your reactions or share your promotional posts with Facebook fans. We'll be tweeting too from @Campaign4Kids and @MomsRising.
What to tweet:
Upon completion of both parties’ national conventions, the Federal News Service analyzed transcripts of language choices made by speakers at each convention. With this, the The New York Times created an interactive toolallowing users to compare mentions of issues important to them at the two conventions. The reoccurring use of particular words and phrases provides insight into which issues matter most to these political parties. Of course, there are some distinct differences between the words used at each convention, but an interesting middle ground also exists.
"...to create an economy built to last, we need to focus on middle-class families — families who stay up on Sunday nights pacing the floor, like my dad did, while their children, tucked in bed, dream big dreams; families who aren't sure what Monday morning will bring, but who believe our nation's best days are still ahead."
-Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator, New York
“That's what this is all about. It is about our children. It is about our families. It is about our country.”
-John Kasich, Governor of Ohio
“And today no parent has to worry that their children won't have health care because of a pre-existing condition.”
-Steve Israel, U.S Representative, New York
“We decide, do we want our children to inherit our hopes and dreams, or do we want them to inherit our problems?”
-Marco Rubio, U.S. Senator, Florida
“These investments are moving education reform and innovation and strengthening our nationally recognized early childhood education program.”
-Bev Perdue, Governor of North Carolina
“And your greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstances has been a quality education."
-Condoleezza Rice, Former Secretary of State
At their national convention, Democrats tended to mention words alluding to social issues on their mind: education, women, middle class, and health. Republicans, however, seemed to repeatedly refer to economic issues; business, unemployment, spending, and debt took the lead during their time in Florida.
Despite the variations in their terminology, a few key words seemed to resonate with both parties. One of these mutual words was families. Several mentions of “family” seem to indicate what occupies the forefront of both Democratic and Republican minds. Both parties recognize that families are near and dear to American hearts, but has that influenced their policies?
America is struggling in some key areas regarding the family. To highlight some frightening statistics:
- In 2010, 22 percent of children under 18 were living in poverty 
- From 2009-2010, 16.9 percent of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years were considered obese 
- 9.0 percent of parents with related children were unemployed in 2011 
- About 81 percent of young adults ages 18 to 24 had obtained at least a high school diploma or equivalency certification in 2009 
Regardless of your political leanings, your focus on social or economic issues, or your interest in policy, it is clear that the American family needs consideration. What words will the presidential nominees use in the upcoming months to address these needs? Only time will tell.
-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --
 U.S. Census Bureau (2011). Current Population Survey, Annual Social and Economic Supplement, Age and Sex of All People, Family Members and Unrelated Individuals Iterated by Income-to-Poverty Ratio and Race 2010.
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics (2012). National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009-2010.
 Isaacs, Julia B. (2011). Brookings and First Focus, The Recession’s Ongoing Impact on America’s Children: Indicators of Children’s Economic Well-Being Through 2011.
 National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences (2011). America's Youth: Transitions to Adulthood 2011.
As we enter the new year, we have looked back to review the issues or topics that captured our website vistors’ attention throughout the year. Below we have identified the 15 most popular resources on the First Focus Campaign for Children website in 2011. Here they are:
- The State Flexibility Act Harms Children, Disrupts Coverage, and Ends CHIP as We Know It by Lisa Shapiro (June 1, 2011 - fact sheet)
- Cutting Health Care for Kids is Like Stealing Candy from a Baby (June 23, 2011 - advertisement)
- Debt Ceiling Deal Leaves Education Programs Vulnerable, Protects Medicaid and CHIP (August 1, 2011 - press release)
- Advocacy Group Names Top Leaders in Congress for Kids (October 1, 2010 – Champions for Children press release)
- The Foster Children Opportunity Act: Guaranteeing a Bright Future for Foster Youth by Shadi Houshyar (November 3, 2011 – fact sheet)
- Child Advocates Urge Congress to Reject the State Flexibility Act (June 1, 2011 – press release)
- Extreme Anti-Immigrant Laws Tear Families Apart and Create Fear, Not Jobs by Rep. Raul Grijalva (December 1, 2011 – guest blog)
- House Approves Legislation that Cuts Children from Health Coverage (May 13, 2011 – press release)
- State, National Children’s Groups Applaud New Legislation Protecting Abuse and Neglect Victims from Deportation (November 4, 2011 – press release)
- First Focus Hails Casey Bill to Strengthen and Build State Early Learning Systems (March 3, 2011 – press release)
- Landmark Bill Establishes Continuity Between Early Childhood and K-12 Education (August 5, 2011 – press release)
- The Secondary School Reentry Act Provides Avenue to Reengage Disconnected Youth (May 23, 2011 – press release)
- House Approves Drastic Cuts to Nutrition Supports for Low-income Children and Mothers (June 17, 2011 – press release)
- New Bill Introduced to Call Attention to Federal Investments in Children (April 15, 2011 – press release)
- Senator Wyden Introduces Bill Promoting Accountability and Excellence in Child Welfare (August 3, 2011 – press release)
So much seems to be happening within federal education policy at the moment – last Friday, President Obama announced his ESEA Waiver program and this week he gears up for his back to school speech. His upcoming speech on the new school-year will be something I’m sure many of our students, educators, parents and other stakeholders will tune in to watch. What will the President say? Has his vision for educational achievement in America shifted in any way? How will we reflect and react to what he may share? All these questions ultimately lead me to also ask the following – Will he also address our disconnected youth in any way and will they be watching? These are critical questions given that the President has an opportunity to shed some light on what’s being done for youth who dropped out of school and are disconnected from both the education system and the workforce, with few prospects for economic mobility. To the President’s credit, he proposed the American Jobs Act which includes the Pathways to Work Fund for low-income youth; hopefully he will emphasize the need to do even more for our young people. Thus, for all the conversations that are taking place on ESEA, college access, and affordability, we must remain committed to ensuring that disconnected youth are not forgotten in policy conversations.
This is even more critical given how the recession continues to maintain its grip on our economy thus impacting employment rates and poverty. In a recent blog post by Kisha Bird, we were given a clear picture of the most recent poverty numbers:
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s latest poverty figures, twenty one percent of youth ages 16 to 24 live in poverty. This figure skyrockets to 45 percent for those young people not enrolled in school and without a high school diploma.
To add to this, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a national unemployment rate of 9.1% for August 2011, with 26 states and the District of Columbia reporting increases in joblessness.
Given these recent national statistics, it shouldn’t take much more to convince policymakers that federal investments for children, families and youth should be protected at all costs. Furthermore, advocates for disconnected youth need to rally behind a message that frames the imperative of protecting (and expanding) effective programs that help diverse youth improve their academic performance, identify career aspirations and strengthen employer-desired skills to achieve their goals. In a sense, we must continue to guide our policymakers and practitioners in setting the stage for pathways that reconnect youth with education and workforce readiness.
This has always been a critical issue, and one often overlooked when speaking about K-12 education policy and college readiness. But there is no doubt that the stakes are even higher now given the current work of the Super Committee - 12 lawmakers charged with developing a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion. Depending how it all plays out, this could be devastating for education and workforce programs that benefit our youth. While several lawmakers are calling for cuts in discretionary programs during tough economic times, it’s actually the opposite approach needs to be pursued: With the loss of home values accompanied with cutbacks in income, families across the nation have to tighten their budgets but which is exactly why the federal government must loosen its own spending (in order to offset the cutbacks that Americans are experiencing). We will have to wait and see what happens with the Super Committee but the deal they ultimately reach could further devastate opportunities to reconnect youth.
With the goal of concluding this blog post with a positive note, we must highlight the fact that we do have current policy efforts being done in order to reconnect youth: The RAISE UP Act, introduced by Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Representative Dale Kildee (D-MI), supports locally developed systems that will identify youth who have dropped out of high school and challenge them to secure a diploma, a post secondary credential, and a family sustaining career. It will do so through a comprehensive approach that provides young people with opportunities in the areas of education, workforce preparation, and wraparound support services. By bringing together local stakeholders, coordinating resources, and filling the disparate gaps in services, the RAISE UP Act offers a systemic approach to one of the nation's most troubling problems.
Senator Bernard Sanders (I-VT) has also done his part to help reconnect youth by introducing the Secondary Schools Reentry Act of 2011, which amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to increase the role of State educational agencies and local educational agencies in implementing secondary school reentry programs and reaching out to and re-engaging disconnected youth in a secondary education program that leads to the attainment of a secondary school diploma. In essence, the Secondary School Reentry Act helps high schools refocus their attention on recovering drop outs, something very few schools pursue.
While we believe it is important to focus on prevention mechanisms to help raise student achievement and improve graduation rates, it is also critical that we create re-engagement strategies that locate disconnected youth, identify why they dropped out, and connect them to the supports they need to succeed in education and the workforce…and bills such as the RAISE UP Act and the Secondary School Reentry Act help accomplish that.
To learn more about either bill, please contact Roberto Viramontes with the First Focus Campaign for Children at [email protected].
Both of my parents taught me at a very young age how important it was to vote. Clearly, I don’t remember the exact words that were imparted to me (it’s been a while). However, I grew up knowing that I had an opportunity to make choices and that those choices could change the world around me. I also understood this was an opportunity which wasn’t given to everyone and one that passionate advocates fought for me to have. I have vague memories of accompanying my mother to vote in elementary school, excited by the pull lever that open and closed the curtain. I also vividly remember how nervous I was in the voting booth when I took my first vote. I’ve always considered the right to vote a valuable asset that I was lucky to have been given, and therefore, have always loved Election Day.
In short, I’ve never experienced a personal “enthusiasm gap” on Election Day, and I know that that’s likely because of what my parents taught me at a young age. It sounds like I’m primarily advocating here to teach children about the importance of voting, which I do think is imperative. But more importantly, in an Election year that most of the media claims will have low turnout, I’m asking that you VOTE today for those who can’t— our children. And, let me remind you, you certainly don’t have to be a parent to vote for what’s best for children. Your vote today can give a voice to the 20 percent of children living below the poverty line. Your vote today can give children new classrooms, books, and better teachers. Your vote today can make sure a child doesn’t go hungry.
A vote for children today is about the future; the future of your town, cities, and states—the future of this country.
I’ve already taken a vote for children today, but the question is, will you? Don’t sit out the sidelines today. Get out and vote.
Voter Guides on Children’s Issues From a Few of Our State Partners: