President Obama's State of the Union address focused on our country's future. Despite our challenges, our country must come together to "out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world."
The President rightly acknowledged that this will take excellence in the classroom. We need to begin education earlier, advance education in math and science, reward and retain high performing teachers, prepare students for education beyond high school, and make post-secondary education affordable and meaningful to students, so that they are primed for jobs in a technologically driven global economy.
Obama then went on to emphasize the importance of parents, in addition to teachers and schools, in a child's education. The education of a child begins "not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities." The President asked "whether all of us - as citizens, and as parents - are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed."
The question is a hard one that involves not only making changes to our education system, but also buttressing families, particularly fragile families, so that they can provide the support necessary for their children's success.
As the President mentioned, "it's family first that instills the love of learning in a child." Our country must look to comprehensive policy approaches that not only promote and improve education, but also encompass a wide range of initiatives from job creation to health care, to support American families.
And the government cannot and should not do it alone. Our individual knowledge and advocacy around these issues is critical to building communities that can work in tandem with policy changes to support children's development.
As the President begins suggesting policy plans to implement his vision, investigate some of our relevant volumes, which will hopefully help you clarify your thoughts and advocacy efforts related to improving child wellbeing: Fragile Families, Transition to Adulthood, Preventing Child Maltreatment, America's High Schools, and Excellence in the Classroom, among others. <http://www.futureofchildren.org/futureofchildren/publications/journals/>;
Our upcoming volume on Immigrant Children (March 2011) will provide additional clarity regarding both legal and illegal immigrant children and their futures in the United States.