Ten years ago, KARA board member David Strand wrote the book (NATION OUR OF STEP) comparing the United States to the rest of the developed world as determined by the quality of life indices that have been used for decades.
America at that time had slid far from the top in almost all of the important measurements.
Today’s Institutes of Medicine & National Research Council 378 page study demonstrates that our nation is at the bottom of almost every health indicator, early death, the world’s leader in gun death, and U.S. women are now second to last in life expectancy.
David Strand’s study determined that programs helpful to young families and children used regularly in other nations always lead to safer, healthier, and more educated societies.
At the time, David and State Legislator Andy Dawkins approached MN Governor Tim Pawlenty with documented findings (including the Federal Reserve Board Study completed by Rob Grunewald and Art Rolnick) demonstrating the need, economic returns, and public appetite for programs that were proven effective for maintaining a healthy child population in MN.
After listening to David and Andy, our then Governor stated that , “children that are victims of failed personal responsibility are not my problem nor are they the problem of the state of MN” and he proceeded to eliminate subsidized day care, implement the conceal and carry law, and a dozen other child unfriendly initiatives.
Pawlenty and his Secretary of Education Cheri Yecke labeled teachers “slackers” and for years fought against all early child initiatives until Yecke was forced out of her position of power by citizens that recognized the damage being done to Minnesota’s education system.
Because of this assault on *Minnesota youth, our state experienced double digit prison growth for five years in a row, our school graduation rates crashed to the lowest they had been in decades, and we arrested 44% of African American men in Minneapolis in 2001 (no duplicate arrests). MN former Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz, “the difference between that poor child and a felon, is about 8 years”
It is clear to me that the rest of the world understands much better than we do, the value of healthy, educated children. They become healthy, smart, productive citizens that vote for more of the things necessary to maintain a first rate society.
Or as Pliny the Elder stated 2500 years ago, “what we do to our children, they will do to society”
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