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Is your child ready to start school? For parents and children trying hard to enjoy at least a few weeks more of downtime before beginning back to school shopping and school year routines all over again, the answer is probably a resounding not yet! But even when September arrives, for millions of American children the answer will still be no. Right now, far too many of our youngest children aren’t prepared to start school ready to learn and succeed this year or any year. Although some may consider me a broken record, I’ll keep playing it until we hear, get it, and act. The greatest threat to America’s economic, military, and national security comes from no foreign enemy but from our failure to invest in healthy and educated children regardless of their lottery of birth.
The reaction to the not guilty verdict from George Zimmerman’s jury was swift and strong. Young people poured onto the streets in peaceful protests in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, and Washington, D.C. By 3 a.m. more than 100,000 people signed an online petition urging the Justice Department to pursue civil rights violation charges against George Zimmerman.
“You don't have to be a Black male educator to teach Black students. You just have to love Black male children and believe that they have unlimited potential and opportunity, and they’re just as smart and capable as anyone else and caring. And it’s hard. Sometimes you have to go the extra mile,” said Michael Tubbs, an extraordinary young leader and teacher who is part of the Children’s Defense Fund youth leadership development movement. “It takes school, church, neighborhood, government, partnerships. It takes relevant curriculum. It takes love. It takes trial and error. It takes being creative. It takes messing up. It takes getting back up. It just takes everything we're not doing now.”
“My heart was shattered while I was working at 60 Minutes when my only sister was shot and killed by her husband. There was a restraining order that stopped nothing.”
Thirteen-year-old Michael Graham, an eighth grader at Henry H. Wells Middle School in Brewster, New York, was popular with his classmates and played football, basketball, and lacrosse. But this year on January 14th, Michael committed suicide using a pistol he had found in his home. Michael’s father had three unregistered handguns in the house: a .40 caliber, a 9mm, and a .44 Magnum.
“We can change the world . . . . Let’s believe in it; let’s make it happen so that someday soon we will visit the museum to see poverty because we will never see poverty in society. It does not belong in a civilized society.”
The Supplemental Food and Nutrition Program (SNAP), formally called Food Stamps, serves children and families by providing targeted assistance to purchase food when they need help most. Since the worst recession in decades began in December 2007, millions of low and middle income parents have lost their jobs and the security of knowing their children would never go to sleep or to school hungry. While these parents work to get their family finances back on track, SNAP has served as a critical support in ensuring their children's daily nutritional needs are met.
Guns killed more preschoolers in one year than they did law-enforcement officers in the line of duty. Ask yourself if this is really what we as Americans meant by putting our children first?
What if we looked at violence in America as a public health crisis rather than a crime problem? What if we look for promising practices and expanded the ones that work to eliminate the epidemic of violence that keeps our graveyards, jails, and prisons full? That is exactly the approach recommended by a panel of the nation’s leading gun violence researchers in a report released this week by the Institute of Medicine. Convened by the federal government in the wake of the Newtown shooting, the panel provides a national road map for the research that needs to be done to prevent gun violence and improve public safety, especially for our most vulnerable.
“I’m learning that milestones are a very difficult thing to get through in this first year . . . Everything has become ‘after Noah’s death,’” said Jodi Sandoval through a stream of tears. Jodi lost her 14-year-old son Noah McGuire to gun violence in Clintonville, Ohio on July 5, 2012.