Parents & Presidential Politics: Parents' Voices
Parents have strong opinions about the upcoming presidential election and the issues that affect them and their families. When we asked them what they most wanted the next president to focus on and whether they believe the candidates are giving family-oriented issues enough attention, parents weighed in with a variety of responses.

Here’s a sampling:

I think education needs the most attention. There is a desire for nationwide reforms and the increase in charter schools, but funding is limited. Here in Massachusetts, it is the wealthiest communities that perform the highest on MCAS. In order for educational needs to be addressed, low-income communities need special consideration and more appropriate funding.

I do not believe that either presidential candidate is addressing the work/family issues in any way that shows knowledge of the topic. I have not heard any discussion about childcare, welfare to work incentives, and how dual earners provide for the multiple needs of the family. Bush has taken a stand in asking welfare mothers to marry the fathers of their babies, which is a stupid proposition, since a large number of these fathers are addicted and abusive.

Pamela Schmidt, Massachusetts

As a parent I believe that the media needs to be more regulated
and that it has reached the point where it requires national attention and national intervention. I am appalled at what I see flashing before my eyes (and those of my children) on TV as well as what is being printed in our local newspapers. Topics which were taboo to even speak of in public when I was a child are now blasted in our faces across the screens in commercials, movies and sitcoms and on the front pages of our newspapers.

I believe that young children need to keep their innocence as long as possible and that it’s the parents’ responsibility to guide them in this area. But our job has been undermined and is becoming increasingly more difficult when the media is determined to make our little ones see and experience worldly and adult ideas now.

Criminals and perverts do not happen overnight; they are bred by the media since childhood. Once, there was a safe family viewing time, which does not seem to exist anymore. I find myself putting in more videos for my children rather than allowing them to watch what is available on the TV; at least that, for now, I can control.

With the national topics being abortion rights and gay marriage, I feel that family values and family support are getting some attention, but not the amount that is needed, nor in the right direction. Our country was founded under God, God-fearing, God-loving men who realized that without God our nation cannot be great. In order for this country to continue being strong as a nation, we need unity and that comes, I believe, from strong, solid family values based on the holy word of God. Our leaders need to build and rebuild the families as they should be.

Carla Andrews, Georgia

The three issues that concern me most as a parent in the upcoming election are:

1. National Security: Our lives all changed on Sept. 11, 2001. The threat of terrorism is very real and must be handled. My concern is that if terrorism is not dealt with severely, our country will become like Israel with more incidents of terrorist activity happening on our soil. I am greatly concerned about the safety of all our children and the world in which they are and will be living. 

2. Same-Sex Marriage: My concern is that the traditional family structure that has been established for centuries will be eroded if we allow the definition of marriage to be altered. Looking back in history when societies allowed same-sex marriage, traditional family structures and societies have eroded. A good example in modern times is Scandinavia.

3. Tax Burden: The graying of America demographically is leading to a great burden for our children and future generations. With the populace aging, it is the young who will be responsible for providing Medicare and other programs for the country. This, coupled with the many government programs, is creating a large tax burden. Tax burdens should be lessened not increased, especially with the future of the Medicare system resting on the backs of our children.

I think President Bush has addressed issues that do matter to families, especially items one and two above. Those, with his attempt to improve the educational system in America, are issues that matter to families. Sen. Kerry has not been clear as to his positions on these issues other than his record of increasing taxes on working families.

Julie Klouse, Washington

After the nation’s economy and the highest deficit in our nation’s history, I think early childhood programs and education needs the president’s attention. I have a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old and an 8-month-old and I worry that full-day kindergarten will still be unavailable in our town by the time my younger two are in school. As full-time working parents, we cannot deal with a half-day program that switches from a.m. to p.m. in the middle of the year. It doesn’t work for us. Thank goodness we can afford to pay for a full-day program ourselves. But so many people can’t.

I worry that teacher salaries and daycare worker salaries continue to be among the lowest in the country and yet they are the ones who care for our most precious resource: our children. I worry about the buildings, the bullying, the needed support staff and the learning tools that children need but our country says we can't afford because we spend it fighting wars we shouldn’t be fighting.

Vote for John Kerry for president! I’m putting all my hopes on this guy and the staff he surrounds himself with. I hope not to be disappointed. To date, I believe he has been addressing the issues that are important to me. Front and center is the need to get our national priorities in order and to re-examine where our focus has been.

Lara Stone, Massachusetts 

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">I believe that much focus should be placed on education and childcare quality. Other issues may be important, as well. However, nothing is more crucial than the care and education of youth. In the fragile state that our country is in today, we owe it to ourselves to elect a representative who feels as strongly about children as we do.

rdana; FONT-SIZE: 10pt">I am not confident that either candidate will address the needs of children or be as compassionate about the education of our youth. Having to choose the lesser of two evils, I pray that other concerned parents will take an active role and lobby for the needs that have gone overlooked in the past. If parents are politically active, or more important, politically aware, then we can ensure that the candidates who have the same priorities that we have can represent us.

At this point of the campaign trail, I believe each candidate is smoke-screening the real issues and is overly consumed with war and economics. Before we indulge in foreign affairs, we need to face the issues at home head-on and do something about the disastrous conditions that our schools are in.

Petrice Young, Maryland

“No Child Left Behind” does to education what the Republicans have done to the judicial system. It ties their hands and allows no flexibility to handle difficult students and comes up with rigid remedies that must be followed; expensive remedies that are not fully funded. It throws children, no matter what their learning ability, into one big hopper and expects everyone to succeed at the same level. It shows the rigidity of their thinking: that all problems are seen in black and white terms. As anti-big government as they are, the Republican party’s solutions to education are big government in their broad simplicity.

I haven’t looked at Kerry’s take on education, simply because I’m anti-Bush for two other reasons regarding my child’s future: One is the huge deficit he’s placed squarely on his shoulders. As my Republican father said, “I’m not going to be paying back the deficit, Jasper will.” (Nice!) Jasper has just turned 14. Is there any doubt the war in the Middle East will be over in four years when he turns 18? Bush’s preemptive war policy surely will inflame anti-American passions around the world. Can a draft be far off?

Education is surely important. But clearly other policies are becoming equally if not more important.

Gary Barker, California.

I think affordable health care for children and families is a critical issue. There are way too many uninsured kids in our country. Kerry is talking about addressing this issue, and implementing a program like the one Hillary Clinton proposed, while the GOPs are pretty much skirting the whole thing.

Helen Behar, California