Op-Ed Article
Published in the Opinion Page of Our Views section of The News, Boca Raton, FL

Invest in Children
The issue: Protecting our children
We suggest: Realign Washington priorities

   Here’s a tiny digest of information that you probably do not want to absorb just before bedtime. It will – or it should – keep you awake. Every one of these situations occurs daily in the United States.
  • 15 children are killed by firearms violence.
  • 2,660 children are born into poverty.
  • 2,822 young people drop out of school.
  • 8493 children are reported as victims of abuse and/or neglect.
   Those are the old flinty facts. They should be an embarrassment to this nation and its inhabitants. We believe we are the beacon of freedom throughout the world. We are – in many respects. We also have some dirty laundry that cries out for a thorough cleansing.
   On Saturday, nearly a quarter million people gathered in Washington, D.C., to give America’s children a figurative hug. The massive rally, “Stand For Children,” featured celebrities who mouthed dreary statistics and uplifting rhetoric. If oratory were cash and commitment there would be no hungry, unloved, abandoned, drug-ravaged youngsters in America. Sadly the agenda for America’s youngest citizens is set not by the altruistic, good-hearted folks who gathered around the Lincoln Memorial to celebrate and to protest, but by a Congress that demonstrates clearly skewed priorities.
   Ideology, not foresight, will determine how many more children will be victims of a system that overlooks and minimizes their long-term needs, and that sacrifices the strategic investment in education and social programs for the tactical goal of improving next quarter’s profits.
   In the 13th century, in what has become a historical footnote, thousands of youngsters, most under the age of 12, joined together to march on the Holy Land. Their ill-fated adventure became known as the Children’s Crusade. Most died en route or were sold in slavery.
   There seems to be an unofficial crusade against children in Washington. Education funds are being cut by the Republican-dominated Congress while tax breaks for corporate executives are being fast-tracked. Children, who represent 100 percent of our future, are being short-changed for the benefit of the two percent of Americans at the top of the economic heap.
   We must insist on more – and more efficient – funds and programs to help those deprived children survive and thrive. This is not about “big government,” as fiscal conservatives like to crow. In the words of Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, this crucial argument is about “just government.”
You have the power

Jack Levine, Executive Director of Florida Center for Children & Youth, is an activist for our youngest citizens. His efforts deserve support. Write/call Jack Levine, Florida Center for Children & Youth, P.O. Box 6846, Tallahassee, FL 32314, (850)222-7140, (850)224-6490 Fax

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