Founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, Edelman has earned numerous honors and awards for her work on behalf of disadvantaged Americans.
MARIAN ELDELMAN: And so we really need to think about what this is going to mean for all of us in terms of letting our children be the poorest age group in America; no other industrialized country does this. Think about the implications of our competitiveness in the future when a majority of all of our children of all races and income groups cannot read or do math at grade level in 4th, 8th or 12th grade, if they haven't already dropped out of school. And that over 80 percent of our black and Hispanic children cannot read or do math at grade level in 4th, 8th or 12th grade if they haven't dropped out. You know, we're going to be a majority minority nation soon and we're going to need them to be working for us rather than us working to maintain them. And it‟s the most fundamental common sense issues.
And so I hope that we can begin to talk about the fact that, you know, poverty costs us in so many ways. It costs us in our deepest values, but it costs us money, it costs us, I think, in public safety. I am just so worried about this cradle to prison pipeline that is sending one in three black boys who are eight years old today to prison, one in 17 black girls. This is the new American apartheid and we must begin to wake up and see that our children are our best investment. And our failure to invest in them is going to be ... I'm convinced, it‟s our moral and economic Achilles heel. It's going to cripple the country.
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