Looking Upstream

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Invest in usThe following article was sent out in my City View Newsletter, which you can sign up to receive here.

President Obama announced a new initiative today—Invest in US—to raise awareness about the value of early learning. The president made the announcement at a White House Summit on Early Learning that Mayor Murray, King County Executive Dow Constantine and I are attending. 

The Summit includes a variety of national experts discussing the critical importance of child development in the first five years of life. What I’ve heard so far has reinforced my belief that we can overcome poverty and close the opportunity gap for our children of color. I make this point in a piece published earlier today by The Stranger. We know what to do. We must continue to build the political will to do it.

Eliminating disparities in educational outcomes will create ripple effects across society. Investing early reduces crime and improves the economic future for our kids. We cannot leave this out of the critical conversation our nation must have about the role of the police. Communities across the country have been struggling to come to terms with the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York about the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

There is no doubt that we must reform the way police departments operate in order to build stronger ties with the people they serve, as I wrote last week in Crosscut. But we must also look further upstream at the roots of the disempowerment and disenfranchisement experienced by entire communities. The best way to do that is to invest in children and families early in life.

I strongly believe wrestling with these issues is important not just for our children but for the future of the city.