Listen Up Prez: The Kids Have Something to Say About Tuesday's Speech

The pundits may be getting the attention of what President Obama ought to talk about Tuesday night as he delivers his annual State of the Union address,but the nation’s children also are weighing in.

The advocacy group, Children’s Leadership Council (CLC), has put together an online video called Hear Our Voice that features the unscripted voices of youth, aged 5 to 25, telling the president what needs to be fixed now.

“The ‘State of the Union’ for America’s Children/Youth is discouraging,” says Alan Houseman, chairman of the CLC, which calls itself the nation’s largest coalition of child and youth organizations, based in Washington. “The ‘State of America’s Future’ is tied to the well-being of our children both now and in the future. Our leaders need to address the issues raised in Hear Our Voice.”

The kids argue that college affordability, gun control, hunger, health care, and education need to be addressed by the president.

In America today:

  • One in five children go hungry every day;
  • 22 percent of children live in poverty;
  • Nearly 700,000 children are abused or neglected every year; yet, nearly 40 percent of the children whose maltreatment is substantiated receive no services – not home visiting, therapy, foster care, or anything else;
  • Nearly 10 percent of children do not have health insurance (7 million);
  • Nearly two-thirds of fourth-graders and more than two-thirds of eighth graders cannot read or do math at grade level;
  • Only 14 percent of three-year-olds and 40 percent of four-year-olds eligible to be served by Head Start are enrolled in early childhood education programs;
  • Two-thirds of students with four-year bachelor’s degrees graduate with an average student loan debt of more than $25,000, and 1-in-10 borrowers now graduate owing more than $54,000;
  • In 2012, Congress spent only about 8 percent of their budget on children.

“Every child deserves a chance at a healthy, successful life, regardless of economic circumstances,” says Caitlin Johnson, co-founder and managing director of SparkAction, a journalism and advocacy site to mobilize action by and for young people. “As President Obama lays out his plans for the next four years, we hope this video will continue to raise awareness of issues that concern young people and give them a voice in Washington.”

Watch the video:

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