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When I headed the National Urban League, the organization's slogan was "Our Children = Our Destiny." Why this rallying cry? The rationale could not be simpler. Children may be just a portion of a nation's population, but they are 100 percent of its future.
Many youngsters already achieve at high levels and receive appropriate doses of support, encouragement, and guidance from their parents and communities. Yet the stark reality is that millions of American children are marginalized academically and thus destined for social and economic oblivion in the 21st century. They will not be able to uphold their obligations as citizens and providers. Their plight stems from many factors, including family, neighborhood, and economic circumstances beyond their control. Some youngsters are so intimidated by their classmates that they do not even strive to do well in school. Still other youngsters seem indifferent to achievement and disenchanted with formal education as they've known it.