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Kids Must be Our Nation’s Top Priority

Putting our kids first is not just good public policy, it's just plain common sense. That's why we're excited to announce the launch of our major new platform: Common Sense Kids Action. The mission is simple: to make kids and education our nation's top priority. Period. Full stop. 

As we all know, kids don't sit in corporate boardrooms and don't have the votes or economic power to make their voices heard. Yet their success in life is absolutely essential to our nation's future. And when we stand up for all kids, we stand up for the best interests of our own kids as well.

Too often in recent years, our national and state priorities have reflected the bidding of the powerful and well connected. Elected officials love to pay lip service to doing "right by our children," and they all love to have their photos taken kissing babies. But the actions of Congress, many state legislatures, and many businesses rarely, if ever, put children first.

Common Sense will build a unique mass constituency base for kids and education, based on our existing Common Sense platforms and millions of parent and teacher users. We will work with leaders across the country to advance policies and programs that help provide every child with the opportunity to succeed. Through our nonpartisan efforts, we already have introduced major legislation sponsored by Republicans in New Hampshire and Iowa and by Democrats in California and Oregon. On Capitol Hill, our fight to protect kids' and teens' privacy brought together lawmakers as diverse as Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). We consider Common Sense Kids Action a kid-partisan effort. And we are not interested in partisan politics as usual where kids almost always lose. 

As we expand our advocacy platform, we will pursue a comprehensive approach to our children's well-being. We all know that strategic investment in our kids' education is essential. That's why we will focus on four key issue areas: education and technology; quality early childhood education; online privacy and safety; and reducing child poverty while increasing economic opportunity for young people.  

Improving 21st-Century Education and Technology

Every American child -- no matter his or her race, income, or ZIP code -- deserves an education that will enable him or her to succeed in a fiercely competitive and global economy.

Sadly, millions of our kids graduate from schools unprepared to compete for jobs -- or don't graduate at all. We need to ensure teachers are equipped with modern classrooms that are connected to broadband and Wi-Fi, and we need to significantly modernize our curriculum and strengthen high standards for kids and schools.

Providing High-Quality Early Childhood Education for All Kids

We must make sure that all kids get the right start in life. Despite the demonstrated importance of early education and quality health and nutrition, millions of American kids are denied those opportunities during the birth-to-five period. That's especially true for low-income children and communities of color.

We are already working with policy makers and advocates across the country to support increased access for all kids to the right start in life. By prioritizing early learning, we can ensure that more children arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed.

Strengthening Online Privacy for Kids and Teens

As our kids and schools increasingly come online, it is vital that we protect the privacy of our students. Common Sense Kids Action leads the fight to empower parents, teachers, and students to harness the power of technology while keeping students' personal information private. 

The first Common Sense-sponsored Student Online Privacy and Protection Act (SOPIPA) was passed in California in 2014 and now is a model for similar legislation in 15 states. We will continue to lead the charge for meaningful privacy protections to ensure kids' privacy is fully protected. 

Reducing Child Poverty and Increasing Economic Opportunity for Young People

Last year, Common Sense played a key national leadership role in expanding E-rate, the federal program that helps connect low-income classrooms to the Internet. This year we're doing lots more to get those schools connected, and we're also fighting hard to make sure that all low-income homes are connected so all children have access to broadband as well. We also will work to improve the school breakfast program in California and push lawmakers to make paid sick leave a priority in every state so moms and dads can take care of their children and be good employees too.

We believe that Common Sense Kids Action can mark the launch of a groundbreaking new era to improve the lives of all American children. We want to make sure that our nation's kids and schools have a powerful and independent voice advocating on their behalf. Improving the lives of America's children won't happen overnight. It will take imagination and leadership from government officials, as well as business groups, technology companies, and millions of parents and passionate advocates. Putting our kids first is far more than just good public policy: It's just plain common sense. Join us by signing up here.

Jim Steyer

Jim is Common Sense Media's CEO and founder -- read all about him here.