The following is not intended to endorse or celebrate any candidates and their victories yesterday. I would have written this no matter which candidate was elected, perhaps just in different form.
Dear Mr. President,
Congratulations. You have achieved one of the greatest feats in American political history by being elected to a second term. Under siege since your election in 2008, you have acted to help our country on several fronts. And regardless of how I or others feel about your political beliefs and actions, one thing is clear…the people have spoken.
I know you are aware of the incredible opportunities (and challenges) that present themselves to a second term (“lame duck”) president. With no reelection campaign to mount in 2016, you are able to concentrate on making real and lasting change in our country and abroad. I certainly wish you luck.
But I am writing today, to ask…no, to beg you to turn your attention in your second term to a critical situation that for too long has gone overlooked by Washington, D.C., the achievement gap. I am speaking of the vast disparity between the academic achievement and academic opportunities of the rich and the poor in our country. Undoubtedly, you know this gap exists. Today I call on you to do something about it.
Mr. President, poor children in our country, no matter where they live–urban, rural, suburban–simply do not have the same opportunities as their more affluent counterparts. This is reflected in decades of achievement data. Our nation’s poor children are left behind. Being born into poverty sets children back immediately upon their birth, and except in rare and unique circumstances, the majority of them are never able to catch up.
There are obviously complicated social conditions that need to be addressed in order to remedy this situation. And no president in my lifetime, in my opinion, has made an adequate attempt to address them in a meaningful way. Please, Mr. President, hear this: you can be the one. The children of America need you.
I won’t pretend to know the answers. But I do know that the gap is real, that our children deserve better, and that something has to be done. Make America a more equal place, a country where I’m proud to live and work and raise a family, a country where achievement and opportunity are the birthright of every child born here. We are still a long way from that last one. And it’s time to stop waiting on others to do something about it. It’s time to finally see the change, and to believe in it.
Benjamin Curran–Educator, Parent, American
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