In 1996, over 300,000 people gathered in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC to stand together for a movement – to Stand for Children. Every year on June 1st, the nation rallies together to acknowledge that we need to stand together to ensure that every child has a healthy start and equal chance to succeed in life.
The recent op-ed piece by John Wetzel, the Acting Secretary of Corrections, is a great and important perspective when considering the early years of some of the nation’s most underprivileged children. Early childhood education programs have a great impact on the child’s development; but perhaps even greater is the opportunity for potential that they instill in each child. As Wetzel says:
As I see it, every time we talk about corrections reform, it really must begin with the realization that improving the chances for children, especially those in our most disadvantaged communities, is not just a great investment financially, but our responsibility and the true answer to improving criminal justice in America.
Pennsylvania Governor Wolf has proposed a $120 million dollar state funding increase for high quality pre-K programs. His rationale is that this will boost high school graduation rates, and ultimately reduce the number of people incarcerated in PA. That same $120 million investment now could end up saving over $350 million in imprisonment costs later.
PNC Grow Up Great, too, has stood up for children by embracing the necessity of early childhood education. With a $350 million commitment since 2004, PNC believes that a focus on the early years will help benefit society and the economy, with “better achievement in school, more graduates of high school and college, higher salaries, less crime and drug abuse, fewer people on welfare.”
Although June 1st has come and gone, all of us can Stand Up for Children 365 days of the year through our advocacy, through our votes, and through our volunteer service to those less fortunate.
As Fredrick Douglass said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”
Read the full article here.