Grass-roots campaign to make kids, education top priority

Advocacy group aims to make children's causes top political priority

A new children's advocacy group on Monday launched a multimillion-dollar grass-roots campaign to improve health, education and access to technology for youngsters in California and across the nation.

With initial funding of $20 million, Common Sense Kids Action aims to mimic the clout of AARP, the association of retired people, parlaying the power of millions of parents and educators into a formidable political force, said founder James P. Steyer.

"We have a simple mission: to make kids and education the nation's top priority," said Steyer, founder and chief executive of Common Sense Media, the organization's parent company. "To ensure America remains the world's economic leader, we must invest in the education, health and overall well-being kids need to succeed. ... Common Sense Kids Action is working to ensure that no decision is made in this country without thinking about children and their education first."

The group initially will target legislative and political action in California and a dozen other states, as well as Washington, D.C., on issues of early childhood education, technology in the classroom, childhood poverty, career education and online privacy and safety.

San Francisco-based Common Sense Media is a nonprofit that provides educational resources -- including reviews and ratings of films, books, games and other media for age-appropriate content such as sex, violence and language. The group claims more than 65 million users.

In California, the group spearheaded 2014 legislation that prevents companies from selling students' personal information. The law also prohibits using such information to target advertising and to compile a profile of a student unless for educational purposes.   

The Kids Action initiative is backed by a number of high-tech entrepreneurs and others, including Steyer's brother, Thomas Steyer, the billionaire hedge fund manager turned environmental advocate.   

The nonpartisan group said its advisory board will include experts from across the political spectrum.

Twitter: @carlariveralat

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