By Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 12/05/2010 01:26:55 AM PST
“If our American way of life fails the child, it fails us all.” -- Pearl S. Buck
Something's wrong. Feeding America reports that nearly 14 million children are estimated to be eligible for free food programs. Over three million of them are under 5 years old.
Twenty percent or more of the child population in 16 states and D.C. are living in food insecure households. Arkansas (24.4 percent) and Texas (24.3) have the highest rates of children in households without consistent access to food (John, Cook, Child Food insecurity in the United States: 2006-2008).
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that in 2008:
“Of the 49.1 million people living in food insecure households (up from 36.2 million in 2007), 32.4 million are adults (14.4 percent of all adults) and 16.7 million are children (22.5 percent of all children).”
“Our children are our only hope for the future, but we are their only hope for their present and their future.” -- Zig Ziglar
So, how can we explain 16.7 million, or approximately 22.5 percent, of children in the U.S. living in poverty? Research shows that for young children even mild under-nutrition during critical periods of growth impacts their behavior, their school performance and their overall cognitive development.
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” -- Stacia Tauscher.
We pride ourselves on giving billions in food relief to countries across the world, and we can't properly feed our own. That's just shameful. There's nothing else to call it. Our priorities need to be reevaluated.
“Upon our children -- how they are taught -- rests the fate -- or fortune -- of tomorrow's world.” B.C. Forbes
California's education system is crippled. A record 174 districts may not be able to meet their financial obligations over the next two years, according to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell. That's a 38 percent increase over last year.
After announcing this news in June, O'Connell told The Associated Press, “The economic picture for our schools regrettably is bleak. The lack of funding is hurting our children, our schools, our neighborhoods and our future.”
It's been hard to watch public education in California get $17 billion less than expected over the past two years, because of the ramifications. Teachers are laid off, we're seeing bigger classes and shortened school years. Extracurricular activities, like music and sports, are slashed for lack of funds. The same situation faces most of the other states.
Garrison Keillor wrote, “Nothing you do for your children is ever wasted. They seem not to notice us hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”
I heartily agree with this wry evaluation. We need to take a long, hard look at what's happening with children in America. Our state and federal government should support them, not political agendas and partisan politics that prioritize everything but their welfare, education, and future.
As It Stands, Walt Disney summed it up nicely, “Our greatest natural resource is the minds of our children.”
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