In today’s NYTimes, David Brooks opined that the President needs to advocate for a much broader stroke to addressing the needs of our broken children and young adults ( In October, 2013, I posted a blog saying that Brooks had been right at the time when he advocated for more attention to needy pre-school kids, but he had it only half right (see “Ignoring the Elephant in Preschool Education”

Now, in his latest analysis of the problems so many if not most of our young people face, he implores the President to move beyond early education and school reform as the ultimate solutions as these are fine but nowhere near enough to make the kind of impact needed. As I said then, and have been working at for a decade, the issues are bigger, deeper and more systemic. David Brooks now sees this, and is asking the President to say this in his State of the Union speech:

“That’s the next frontier of human capital development: Building lifelong social and emotional development strategies from age 0 to 25. I’m hoping President Obama goes there.” (“It Takes a Generation,” NYTimes, January 24, 2014)

I couldn’t agree more. The evidence is overwhelming, and the fix is not so daunting as one might assume. The problem, as I see it, is that we can only go there when we who hold the cards are willing to look in the mirror, slow down enough to look into the eyes and souls and lives of our kids, and pay attention – all of us, all the time. Coaches, teachers, cops, parents – all of us – on both a micro and macro and systemic level. To re-engage this relationally disenfranchised and emotionally isolated generation is our most important task in rebuilding our nation, and bringing us together as a people.

I’m glad that David Brooks went there. I also agree with him, I hope the President does, too.