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New Voices for New Choices: Coming Together for Children

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By Marian Wright Edelman

Our children urgently need your help right now! This is the most dangerous time for children since the Children's Defense Fund began. As our nation wages a war against Iraq, and is anxiously preoccupied with terrorism in our post-September 11 nation and world, the Bush administration and Congress are waging a radical budget war against children at home.

The Bush budget and the budgets voted by the House and the Senate bring good news to the rich and bad news to the poor, defy the prophets and the gospels, and mock American values of fair play and opportunity. They are unjust. They must be rejected for our children’s and our nation’s sake.

This won’t happen unless you speak up, stand up, and fight for children. So I hope you will join me in raising a mighty voice for children in Congress during the Children’s Defense Fund’s National Conference at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., which will end April 11th.

During the conference, faith, youth, women, and community leaders from across the country will rally on Capitol Hill, visit their members of Congress, and tell them to leave no child, rather than no millionaire, behind. You need to be there with us as Congress debates and passes a budget resolution by April 15th, which will affect every single person in our nation for decades to come.

If you can’t come to the conference, call or e-mail your Senators and Representatives today and keep doing it throughout the year. Urge them to:

• Vote Yes to investing in children and vote No to huge irresponsible tax cuts for millionaires.

• Vote No to efforts to dismantle Head Start, Medicaid, foster care protections and Section 8 housing for low-income people.

• Vote No to budget proposals that cut 30,000 children from child care assistance this year—200,000 over five years while requiring more mothers to leave welfare and to work more hours.

• Vote No to cutting 570,000 children from after-school programs.

• Vote Yes to providing Head Start and Early Head Start for all children who need them.

• Vote Yes to investing in quality child care and after-school programs for children who need them when parents work.

• Vote Yes to health coverage for all 9.2 million uninsured children and their parents.

• Vote Yes to making children a top national priority by co-sponsoring and working to enact the positive national policy vision embodied in the comprehensive Dodd-Miller Act to Leave No Child Behind (S.448/H.R.936)—not to be confused with the underfunded Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act.

There is no moral or defensible excuse for hurting children to help millionaires. Children’s needs must be met during peacetime and wartime and during economic prosperity and downturn.

Children have no voice and no votes except yours. Please raise your voice today to stop the assault on the most vulnerable among us.

A lot of people are scared to come to Washington now. They are afraid of a terrorist attack and shaky about being in a state of war. I do know that lobbyists for massive tax cuts for millionaires and hugely increased indiscriminate military spending, and people who want to turn the clock of progress back on children, civil rights, civil liberties, and New Deal and programs like Head Start, Medicare, and Social Security, will be in Washington lobbying members of Congress for their special interests.

Who will stand for children if you don’t? Who will see and respond to the terrors of the children who are neglected and abused every 36 seconds, born without health insurance every 59 seconds, and killed by guns right here at home every three hours?
The Conference will begin with a briefing on the federal budget and children.

Distinguished international experts then will speak about the plagues of violence, poverty, and AIDS that snuff out the hopes and lives of millions of children around the globe. On April 10th and 11th, experts from around the world will share best practices for children; leading writers, including John Edgar Wideman, will speak about their childhoods; social justice warriors, including Reverend Fred Shuttlesworth and Sargent Shriver, will be honored; and the hundreds of youth leaders attending the conference will hear from historian Howard Zinn, Tavis Smiley, and Sonia Sanchez among others.
Please stand with us to stop the budget war against children today!

(For more information on CDF’s National Conference, call our Conference Information Line at 202-662-3646 or visit our Web site at www.childrensdefense.org.)

Marian Wright Edelman is President and Founder of the Children's Defense Fund whose mission is to Leave No Child Behind“ and to ensure every child a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start, and a Moral Start in life and successful passage to adulthood with the help of caring families and communities.

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