I’m pleased to be a CDF fellow. Marian Wright Edelman has made great efforts for many years to bring attention to the significant issues faced by at risk children. This from her at the Children’s Defense Fund today;
Today, 60 percent of fourth and eighth grade public school students in all racial and income groups, more than 75 percent of Hispanic and more than 80 percent of Black children cannot read or do math at grade level.
Only three percent of eligible infants and toddlers receive Early Head Start and our nation has been unwilling to ensure high quality universal pre-kindergarten and kindergarten systems to get all children ready for school or excellent and equitable public schools to ensure that children are college ready and prepared for productive work.
A child unable to read or compute at grade level and graduate from high school college or workforce ready is being sentenced to social and economic death in our globalizing and competitive economy.
On July 24th, Dr. Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, gave a video keynote speech to 3,200 community and youth leaders attending the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference in Cincinnati—not on the details of national fiscal policy, but on the crucial importance of effective early childhood supports and public education to the success of our economy. His remarks were strongly reinforced by a very distinguished panel of leading scholars, educators and education activists who spoke about the national imperative of preparing all children for school and building a public education system that prepares all children and our nation for the future. Here is most of what Dr. Bernanke said:
“At the Federal Reserve, we spend a lot of time looking at economic data, such as production and employment. In doing so, we try never to forget that these seemingly sterile numbers are in fact reflections of the economic aspirations, opportunities, and well-being of millions of Americans. When individuals are denied opportunities to reach their maximum potential, it harms not only those individuals, of course, but also the larger economy, which depends vitally on having a skilled productive workforce. As a result, we all have a stake in the essential work that you are doing for our children.