Is the Tide Turning for Kids in Public Discourse?

The following post first appeared in A Better Life, a blog for the Courier-Journal about the aftermath of the recession.

In Tuesday’s State of the Union address, child and poverty advocates across the country had their wishes granted – to hear the President discuss poverty issues, and children’s issues. (Gun control advocates and climate change advocates got their wish too – as did many other advocates).

While in reality, the SOTU is little more than “political theater” as my husband says, it still lays out a framework for public policy in the coming year. It outlines requests of Congress and policymakers around the country. In the case of children and low-income families, Obama called for the following:

– stronger gun control to protect children from unnecessary and deadly gun violence

– make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America

– ensure high school education adequately prepares graduates for work

The President mentioned a lot of other actions to be taken that would indirectly affect kids, like increasing the federal minimum wage to $9.00/ hour which would help parents working full time actually make ends meet and immigration reform which would help keep parents and their children together. Right now – parents working full time at the minimum wage with a family of four are not earning enough to be above the federal poverty line.

I particularly liked this statement: “It is our unfinished task to make sure that this government works on behalf of the many, and not just the few, that it encourages free enterprise, rewards individual initiative, and opens the doors of opportunity to every child across this great nation.”

The speech was great for people that care about the well-being of children and low-income Americans. Now the real test comes – the test that will determine whether my husband is right and it’s just political theater, or whether  the President, House, and Senate and put aside their differences and work together toward real reform that will really improve the lives of our children – our nation’s future. At least he talked about kids.

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