Blog | July 2, 2021

When it comes to kids, bipartisan is the word

We must come together to address challenges in our K-16 school system

Barry D. Ford, J.D.

As the leader of an organization committed to strengthening the nation by promoting solutions that prepare young people to succeed, I am proud of the work we do to ensure that our members in law enforcement, military, and business promote evidence-based policies and programs that enable kids to be healthy, well-educated and prepared for productive lives.

Council for a Strong America has adopted a K-16 agenda, that has as its focus: (1) eliminating the digital divide, (2) funding schools adequately and equitably, (3) expanding integrated services (like afterschool and summer learning opportunities), and (4) facilitating the access and completion of a postsecondary degree or a credential of value. These issues are not only foundational to addressing some of the most deep-seated issues regarding equitable access to educational opportunity in our society, but they have also garnered bipartisan support for years.

This past year, we have seen partisan divides on so many issues, but we’ve also seen both Democrat-led California and Republican-led Ohio recognize the need to invest in coordinated services for kids. In 2019, Ohio established the Student Wellness and Success Fund, which provides dollars for school districts to partner with community-based organizations to address student mental and physical health needs. Similarly, the California Governor’s 2021-22 budget contained a proposal, which the legislature adopted, to include funding for coordinated behavioral health services and full-service community schools. Our members advance these types of solutions because they know, from decades of strong, research-based evidence, that student outcomes improve when schools focus on both academic and nonacademic needs.

Among the many complexities and myriad of challenges, the coming year offers great opportunities. As we bring students back to school, we’ll help address those challenges, as well as the long-standing issues that our public school systems face.

That’s why we’ll be working with our members to advance solutions like the work our Pennsylvania ReadyNation team is doing with realtors on school finance. It’s why all of us will be advocating for policies and programs—at the federal and state level—that provide students with the tools and resources they need to maximize their school experiences and reach their potential.


Barry D. Ford, J.D.

President and CEO


  1. National