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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Mark Shriver: Election Day: The 74 Million Americans Who Had No Voice


Tuesday was a historic demonstration of the power of democracy to force change in domestic policy, for better or for worse. That the American people — not kings, dictators or presidents — hold the power over our nation’s destiny is at the fundamental core of our moral greatness and our record of achievement for the last 234 years.

However, there is one vital constituency that has no voice in this extraordinary American phenomenon, despite a unique dependence on government investment. We are a nation of 74 million kids, a demographic larger than seniors, union members, small business owners or any individual ethnic group.

Because kids don’t vote, don’t host shows on Fox or MSNBC, don’t run PACs or host fundraisers, their priorities simply aren’t met in Washington, D.C. or the states.

• One out of every five children lives in poverty in the U.S. In rural America, that number is one in four.
• Ninety percent of a child’s mind is developed before age five, but the U.S. only designates 14 percent of public spending on education and child welfare on children under five.
• Only 12 states meet the minimum standards to protect kids in a disaster, like requiring child care centers to have a written plan for evacuation.
• More than half of kids in rural America are obese or overweight, yet many poor areas lack full-service grocery stores that stock healthy foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables.

As Republicans and Democrats start a new path toward governing, they can find common ground in the notion that improved education is a shared responsibility — not just of the government, but the private sector, houses of faith, corporations and communities.

In two weeks, in front of the Senate Subcommittee on Children and Families, Save the Children’s U.S. Programs will announce extraordinary new results from our literacy and early childhood education programs. These programs are part of long-standing public-private partnerships in 14 states across America, serving some of the poorest and most remote communities. These are regions where poverty is high, literacy rates are low, and more than half of all kids are overweight or obese.

Our programs have strong bi-partisan backing, including support from Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS), Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY) and others.

Save the Children’s programs — like many other non-profit efforts, such as Citizen Schools, BELL and Horizons National — achieve extraordinary results, improving literacy scores and setting a path for success for children across the nation.

Kids can’t officially participate in the political process. That’s why it’s up to each one of us to set an example and invest in education so the next generation can build the kind of American renewal that Tuesday’s voters made clear they so desperately crave.

From The Huffington Post