Amy Shriver: "Save the American dream for our kids"

The following Letter to the Editor first appeared in the Des Moines Register on July 21, 2015:

On July 9 I had the privilege of attending a sold-out lecture at Drake University by one of the most influential academics in the world, Harvard Professor Robert Putnam. His talk, “Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis,” made a compelling case about how society is suffering from the widening opportunity gap in the US. Putnam asserted that caring for all children in the community as “our kids” makes moral and economic sense and is a key to restoring the American Dream.

During his talk, Dr. Putnam proposed solutions to narrowing the opportunity gap. At the top was investing in high quality early learning programs. As a pediatrician, I recognize that the first five years of a child’s life are critical for cognitive, social and emotional development. In my clinic, I can discern those who have had the advantage of quality early learning programs from those who have not during their pre-kindergarten checkups.

We’re coming up on the 2016 presidential primaries. As a voter I will be asking presidential candidates where they stand on early learning, and I encourage all Iowa voters to do the same.

It’s time the American dream is an attainable dream for all of our kids.

— Amy Shriver, Clive