Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, discusses inequality in schools and the need for a national commitment to address this. (WashingtonPostLive Production/The Washington Post)
March 13, 2013

Bruce Lesley

President, First Focus

About 50 percent of the growth in the number of kids in this country in the last decade happened in Texas, and yet we’re seeing a per capita decline in spending for kids in that state by almost $2,000 per kid. Think about the classroom. The classroom has got 25 kids in it. You’re underinvesting in that classroom by $50,000 than what you did two years ago. So we’re seeing larger classrooms. We’re seeing all the kinds of factors that we know will not lead to success, and that’s where our nation’s future is.

In some places, they’re doing it great. My kids go to school in Maryland, fantastic schools. But I grew up in El Paso, Tex., and those schools are really struggling because of a lack of resources.

At the present time, the investment in our nation’s kids writ large is less than 8 percent of the federal budget as the economic stimulus package has gone away. That’s gone from about 9 percent to less than 8 percent, and that’s billions and billions of dollars. There’s a lot of conversation this morning about [how] everybody wants to invest in kids, but the fact of the matter is we’re not doing it and there’s not that national commitment. There is not that national dialogue about the issue.

In Medicare, we had a huge conversation about the lack of prescription drugs for senior citizens. Democrats put forward their plan. Republicans put forward their plan. They passed the plan. There was a trillion dollars over 10 years. That was not offset, by the way, and that was an important thing. Where is that conversation in this country? It’s lacking.

For Bruce Lesley’s bio, click here.

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