On the federal level, the Obama administration has proposed a plan that would make high-quality preschool affordable for all children. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan visited Minnesota this month and praised the state for making early education a priority. But he also noted in an opinion piece in the Star Tribune that despite Minnesota’s increased efforts, there are still 35,000 3- and 4-year-olds without access to high-quality learning opportunities. Low-income children are most often the ones who miss out on top-notch child care.
The president’s proposal is to make high-quality, full-day preschool available to all 4-year-olds from families whose incomes are at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty line. In addition, a new Early Head Start-Child Care partnership would be launched to expand learning opportunities for infants and toddlers.
The purpose of giving as many children as possible a jump start on learning isn’t to have them reading by the time they are walking. The goal is to introduce every child to language, books, song and play so that their brain development — so crucial in the first few years — can thrive.
That’s an investment that makes sense and that should be sustained for our children and grandchildren and for generations to come.