Did you know that the week of April 10 – 16 was the Week of the Young Child? I confess I didn’t. I learned about this special week from Marian Wright Edelman: “There is a tragic irony to the fact that as our nation prepares to celebrate the Week of the Young Child from April 10-16, Congress is debating whether to slash more than $1 billion from Head Start and to cut the Child Care and Development Block Grant, the Women, Infants and Children Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant, and other essential programs for young children. But that is just the beginning.”
My Representative in Congress, the Honorable Mary Bono Mack voted in favor of the Ryan Budget because “It’s outrageous to keep borrowing money for programs that we can no longer afford – no matter how well intentioned” (Press Release 15 April 2011 http://tinyurl.com/4ydquw8). Her beliefs are “well intentioned,” I’m sure, but so destructive to the youngest, most vulnerable among us: “I believe we should be making deep spending cuts to non-essential programs – right now . . . . I believe that it’s simply irresponsible to keep borrowing money for programs that we can no longer afford as a nation – no matter how well intentioned.” (Congressional Update sent by Mary Bono Mack to constituents on 8 April 2011).
Apparently Head Start (though well intentioned) is something we can no longer afford. The most vulnerable do not vote, is the logic I suppose, therefore they can make alternative arrangements to pursue the “American Dream.” I believe in a God who has a history of seeing the plight of the most vulnerable, of hearing their cries and pleas, of knowing what they suffer and hope, and choosing to come to their aid (Exodus 3:7-8 – a pattern repeated faithfully throughout our Bible stories culminating in the birth-life and death-resurrection of Jesus).
I believe in a God who used harsh words for those who would grow richer at the expense of the poorest: “Doom to you who legislate evil, who make laws that make victims — laws that make misery for the poor, that rob my destitute people of dignity, exploiting defenseless widows, taking advantage of homeless children. What will you have to say on Judgment Day, when Doomsday arrives out of the blue? Who will you get to help you? What good will your money do you?” (Isaiah 10:1-3, The Message) The words give me pause because I am more like those “who make laws that make victims” than I am like “the poor,” the “defenseless widows,” or “homeless children.” Though I am only one voice and though I may be able to help only one child I choose to offer my voice and my prayers and my time and energy for the most vulnerable. I continue to look for ways to stand up with, stand along side, the most vulnerable. I hope you will, too.
For further reading and consideration
- From Head Start to Harvard – an essay by Marian Wright Edelman
- A Problem for ALL Classrooms: Fewer Latinos attending preschool – an essay by Esther J Cepeda