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No Substitute for a Quality Education

Marian Wright Edelman | 8/1/2012, 5:49 p.m.

Today, 60 percent of fourth and eighth grade public school students in all racial and income groups, more than 75 percent of Hispanic and more than 80 percent of Black children cannot read or do math at grade level. Only 3 percent of eligible infants and toddlers receive Early Head Start and our nation has been unwilling to ensure high quality universal pre-kindergarten and kindergarten systems to get all children ready for school or excellent and equitable public schools to ensure that children are college ready and prepared for productive work. A child unable to read or compute at grade level and graduate from high school, college or workforce ready is being sentenced to social and economic death in our globalizing and competitive economy. Closing the achievement gap between non-poor and poor children and White and non-White children must be an urgent national priority. We know what to do; what we are missing is the public and political will to do it. It's time for urgent and transforming change for our children's and our nation's sake.

Marian Wright Edelman is president of the Children's Defense Fund whose Leave No Child Behind mission is to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities. For more information go to www.childrensdefense.org.