Meeting with Mothers and Advocates for Our Children

WHmothers day

Cross-posted from the White House Blog.

During his State of the Union address in February, President Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool to every four-year old in America. As the President put it that day:

In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children, like Georgia or Oklahoma, studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure to meet with mothers, leaders, and tireless advocates that understand that the best investment we can make as a country is in our children’s future.

The coalition came to the White House to deliver 30,000 letters and art work thanking the President for his proposal to make high-quality preschool available for all children – and I used the opportunity to thank them for all their hard work, and to hear from them about the work they continue to do advocating for children.

They understand that for every dollar spent on high-quality early education, we save more than seven dollars in the long run by boosting kindergarten readiness, graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, and even reducing violent crime. They also understand that providing our children with the best start possible in life is not only a moral imperative, but an economic imperative that will benefit our communities and our nation far into the future.

Investing in education from the earliest ages is the best way to ensure a strong foundation for learning throughout a child’s life; and despite the fact that these benefits are well-documented, our nation has lagged behind the rest of the world in providing high-quality public preschool. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that the United States ranks 28th out of 38 countries for the share of four-year olds enrolled in early childhood education.

That’s why the President’s most recent budget detailed the proposal laid out in his State of the Union address, calling for an investment of $75 billion over 10 years, to create a partnership with the States to provide four-year-olds from low and moderate income families with high-quality preschool, while also encouraging states to serve additional four-year-olds from middle-income families. He envisions a new partnership between the federal government and the states that builds upon existing state investments to expand access to high-quality early learning for every child.

This is an issue that comes with strong bipartisan support. As the President noted in his State of the Union address, states such as Georgia and Oklahoma, both of which are led by Republicans, are leading the country in providing access to high-quality public preschool to families in their states. They do this because this is an investment worth making, and the President hopes to build on the success of their efforts by working with leaders on both sides of the aisle.

But, even with strong bipartisan support, policy change is never easy. As I discussed with advocates and mothers this afternoon, the more members of the public lift up their voices and make themselves heard in this debate, the sooner every four-year old will have access to high-quality pre-school.

In February, the White House launched a new tool to enable Americans to find passages in the State of the Union address that they felt were most important to them and provided an opportunity for them to tell us why.

One entry we highlighted, but which I think bears repeating, came from Gail who submitted her thoughts to our website:

Early childhood education matters and should be available to every child in America. We know the investment in quality early care and education pays for itself and we have the resources to do what is right for our children – we need leaders to make this a priority.

I certainly agree, as did the wonderful mothers, children, and advocates I met with yesterday – and we certainly won’t stop working until we can make high-quality early education a reality for all of our children.

Cecilia Muñoz is the Director of the Domestic Policy Council at the White House. 

5 Comments

  1. Where are the Fathers of these Pre-School Kids? Doesn’t anybody care? Why can’t very low to low-income unemployed or disabled males of color between the ages of 40 to 60 be deployed into the classrooms of public schools? We don’t talk enough about the “national disgrace” of adult African American Males being only 2% of America’s Teacher Corp! A significant segment of these men can be found every Saturday and Sunday listening or teaching a Sabbath or Sunday School Class!! Why must there be such a big disconnect?

  2. Vicki,
    Your integrated preschool program is likely so costly because through it, services are rendered for students with moderate to severe Disabilities, along with peer models bein provided to students who desperately need it (I.e. in the case of Autism Spectrum Disorders). This model is actually MORE cost effective than servicing students individually and by appointment. This way, social goals on IEPs can be attained, AND towns only have to hire one therapist per program (I.e. one speech pathologist, one occupational therapist, etc.). The alternative is more costly.

    • Kathryn, the point is that the middle class cannot AFFORD to provide these services, however well intentioned. We are paying for schools to potty train kids and watch them take naps or play while those footing the bill can’t afford three meals a day or clothes or heat and are not entitled to any “assistance” because they gross too much. I’m sorry it should not be the taxpayers responsibility to educate ANY child for more than 13 years. Before the age of 5 and after the age of 18/19 should be the parents responsibility. I see people driving expensive cars, talking about the vacations they go on every year and the activities their children get to participate in while attending the public pre-school programs that I’m struggling to pay for. I’d like to do those things for my own children but I’m too burdened by the cost of their children’s education.

  3. The high point of the President’s State Of Union Address is the call on Congress to expand access to high-quality pre-school to every four year old children in America. This is a huge investment in American children. They represent the future of America.
    This is so important that a bipartisan vote in Congress should be straightforward.

  4. In my public school district we operate an integrated preschool program with an average cost per pupil of $30,000+/-. The federal government contributes an average of $500/student for this program and my state contributes nothing towards it. So approximately $28,500 per student is funded by local residents in a community where private preschools charge tuition rate of anywhere between $4,500 to $10,000 with daycare. Please explain to me why there is such a big push for publicly operated preschools that are so enormously costly to communities/residents. A cost/benefit analysis does not support this program and the taxpayer burden is making it impossible for the middle class to meet even their basic needs. We are already contributing 50% of our income to the government between federal, state and local taxation with another 15%-20% of income going to benefit premiums. These social programs have got to stop!

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