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Why do children come last?

I know that there are many important issues in this upcoming presidential election.  To mention a few, the mortgage crisis, health care, the funding for social security, the cost of gasoline, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and our policy toward China.  But our country’s future depends on our young people.

Our federal budget reflects our nation’s priorities. And in a report issued by First Focus (www.firstfocus.net/Download/CBook.pdf) in the past five years, children have lost significant ground in the federal budget.  “While overall spending on children’s issues increased by about 1.4%, in real terms, total federal non-defense spending grew at nearly  10 times that rate.  As a result, the children’s share of the federal non-defense budget declined from 11 percent in 2004 to 10 percent in 2008.  This drop continues a trend in which the budget share allocated to children has declined 23 percent since 1960.  President Bush’s fiscal year 2009 budget proposal continues this trend.  While spending on children’s health programs will increase by 2.2 percent, discretionary spending in this are would drop by 12 percent from 2008 levels.  42% of all federal spending goes to the military, 16 percent goes to health care and only 4.4 cents goes toward education, training and social services. (Source:  Public Education Network Weekly Newsblast, 4/18/2008).

As the presidential candidates come to your neighborhood, it is critical that educators ask, “Why do children come last?”

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