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Putting Children Last

- Abstract

Over the last several years, something like a national consensus has come to form around the proposition that large numbers of children—particularly young children—live in circumstances tantamount to crisis. “Legions of American children,” as a New York Times editorialist put it last fall, “are growing up without fathers, with children for parents, in neighborhoods so dangerous that they can hope only to make it through the week, rather than plan for the rest of their lives.”

Similar concern was expressed last year by the child-care expert Penelope Leach in her latest book, Children First: What Our Society Must Do—and Is Not Doing—For Our Children Today. Last year also saw a spate of other alarums over the state of American childhood. The facts, according to the Carnegie Corporation in its widely-disseminated report, Starting Points: Meeting the Needs of Our Youngest Children, “add up to a crisis that jeopardizes our children’s healthy development, undermines school readiness, and ultimately threatens our nation’s economic strength.”

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