WASHINGTON, July 8 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today called our nation’s approach to children “nothing less than a disgrace and an international embarrassment.”
Sanders made the remarks in announcing a proposal to provide 1 million jobs for young people over the next two years. He will offer the jobs legislation as an amendment to an education bill now before the Senate.
In prepared remarks, Sanders discussed high youth unemployment, the high cost of college and inadequate child care.
Congress must begin paying attention to the national tragedy of youth unemployment.
“It is beyond belief that in the richest country in the history of the world millions of young people are unable to find work and begin their careers. According to the Economic Policy Institute, unbelievably, youth unemployment for high school graduates and dropouts is 33 percent for white youth, 36 percent for Hispanic youth and 51 percent for African-American young people.
“It is not a coincidence that we have outrageously high youth unemployment rates while at the same time we have more people in jail than any other country on earth. Maybe, just maybe, we should be providing jobs and education to our young people rather than spending more and more money on jails and incarceration.”
Sanders also is the sponsor of legislation to provide four years of tuition-free higher education at public colleges and universities. “Hundreds of thousands of qualified young people are unable to afford to go to college, while millions of others leave school with crushing debt which impacts their lives for decades,” he said.
“While we give tax breaks to billionaires, we continue to have, by far, the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth,” Sanders said. “Our child care system is a disaster with working families desperately searching for affordable, quality child care, which is almost impossible to find.”
Sanders concluded: “This country faces an enormous crisis in how we treat our young people. It is time to bring this issue out of the dark and to start addressing it. If this country is to succeed in the future, we cannot continue to turn our backs on an entire generation of young people.”