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Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis with Robert Putnam

On July 10, 2015, 600 members of the central Iowa community started their day with coffee and Robert Putnam, one of the most publicly engaged social scientists of our time.

The rising inequality gap in America will be a major issue leading up to the next election. Robert Putnam is the expert on the topic. Politicians as diverse as President Obama, Jeb Bush, Hillary Clinton, and Paul Ryan have consulted with him on this issue, and he came to the Harkin Institute to discuss these issues with Iowa.

It’s the American dream: get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success. Through vivid storytelling, Putman will shared with the audience the dynamic change in American society over the last 25 years—the widening class-based opportunity gap evident in family stability issues, poor-quality schools, and lack of social supports for low-income children. Attendees learned how America faced the same kind of gap at the end of the 19th century and how we overcame it. Most importantly, Putnam offered policy proposals that crossed party lines and to reverse the opportunity gap for our children.

Follow the conversation that ensued at #OurKids and the resulting media coverage here.

You can hear Putnam's full hour interview with Iowa Public Radio's River to River program here.

This event was sponsored by the Harkin Institute for Public Policy & Citizen Engagement, Every Child Matters, Save the Children Action Network, the Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines, the Iowa Community Action Association, the Greater Des Moines Partnership, the Child & Family Policy Center, the United Way of Central Iowa, the Iowa Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children, and Make it Work.

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