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We Measure and Are Accountable for the Things We Care About

It’s a fact: As a nation, we measure and hold ourselves accountable when we care about something. We hear almost daily about the Gross Domestic Product’s ups and downs, and we look to the GDP to keep us on track toward a productive economy. Policymakers use the jobs report each month to size up our economy’s outlook and decide if and when a stimulus may be needed. The interest rates and lending rates let consumers prepare their finances and make buying decisions. If something is important enough to us, we find a way to measure where we stand and use that both to make progress toward an important goal — and to take corrective action if we backslide.

So why don’t we measure and hold ourselves accountable for how well children in the United States are faring?

One of the reasons is that we don’t have a widely-accepted mechanism to track progress for kids and take corrective action when needed. Not coincidentally, services and programs that benefit kids and families are losing ground, and all of us are paying the price of kids’ declining health and educational readiness.


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