Education, Equity

Vote for Kids on November 6

A society’s strength can be measured by the well-being of its children. By that metric, Michigan is weak. In 2017, Michigan ranked 32nd in the nation for child well-being and 41st in education. That doesn’t bode well for the future of our children or our state. Fortunately, we can change it, and it starts with the upcoming election on November 6. Election Day presents a special opportunity for Michigan to show how much we value our children and to improve outcomes for youth across the state.

Change is inevitable. Following the election, Michigan will have a new governor for the first time in eight years. Joining them will be new officials to statewide offices, and new federal and state senators and representatives. That’s a lot at stake, and the ramifications of the election will stretch much wider than deciding who sits in what office. The results will impact children in every county and community in Michigan.

Children are our greatest asset, and should be our priority investment. Unfortunately, we’re not providing the foundation children need to thrive.

The numbers support this reality:

  • One in three infants lack adequate prenatal care.
  • More than half of 3- and 4- year olds are not enrolled in preschool.
  • More than half of third graders are not proficient in reading, and are the lowest performing among states that use the same assessment.
  • More than half of high school graduates are not adequately prepared for college or careers.
  • One in seven youth aged 16 to 24 are not in school and not working.

We need to do everything we can to cultivate an environment for all kids to prosper. Children of every race and from every zip code should have equitable access to developmental supports as they navigate the path to adulthood. By exposing children to a wealth of experiences and opportunities, we can position them for success.

Over the last decade, policymakers on both sides of the aisle have led tremendous reforms to advance key areas like childcare and support for schools with high rates of students living in poverty. But the data on the well-being of children in our state makes it clear we must do more.

There’s a simple way to start: show up to vote on November 6.

Many of the decisions with notable impacts on our lives happen at the state level. Yet, voter turnout suffers dramatically in midterm, non-presidential elections. For example, only about 41 percent of registered voters participated in Michigan’s election in 2014. The opportunity is there to position our kids to succeed, but it depends on us leveraging Election Day to ensure that all Michigan children and families thrive, regardless of skin color, zip code or school district.

At The Skillman Foundation, we are dedicated to championing children, which is why we’re hopeful that our elected officials will:

  • Support early intervention efforts to improve and encourage literacy and numeracy for children and their caregivers.
  • Fund public education adequately and equitably.
  • Ensure access to high-quality, affordable childcare and state-funded preschool for three and four-year-olds.
  • Raise the juvenile jurisdiction age from 17- to 18-years-old.
  • Fund workforce development programs.

The signal is clear: Our children need us now more than ever. November 6 presents an opportunity to answer that call. The question is: are we going to step up for kids?

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