Obama pushes preschool for all kids

President's plan would make a year of optional preschool free for low- and moderate-income children.
Feb 18, 2013


President Barack Obama visited a preschool in Georgia last week to unveil details about his new plan to ensure that all 4-year-olds -- including those whose families struggle to make ends meet -- receive the same opportunities for a high-quality early education.

Funded by federal and state tax dollars, the president's plan would be a dramatic expansion of education for 4-year-olds, by making a year of optional preschool free for low- and moderate-income children.

"Hope is found in what works," Obama said at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, part of Georgia's widely available preschool program, funded by the state lottery. "This works. We know it works. If you're looking for a good bang for your educational buck, this is it, right here."

States would have to meet quality standards before they could apply for federal funds. The program would encourage states to assist middle-class families as well, possibly on a sliding scale. It also would expand early learning for infants and toddlers.

The goal, Obama said, would be to take advantage of the crucial learning period from birth to age 5 and close the achievement gap between poor children and their better-off peers.

Before he spoke to a room of adults, the president sat in a classroom with 16 4- and 5-year-olds busying themselves with blocks and iPads. Their self-portraits hung above them, fastened with clothespins.

At one table, the president sat in a child-sized chair and played with a magnifying glass with some of the children.

"This is sort of like 'I Spy,' " he said. "I remember 'I Spy.' "

The president's proposal would offer public preschool to families who earn at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level for a family of four -- the equivalent of $46,100 annually.

Only 28 percent of 4-year-olds nationwide were enrolled in state-funded preschools in 2010-2011, according to the latest preschool survey from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

While preschool is the focus, the plan also includes an expanded Early Head Start for infants and toddlers, and an expansion of voluntary home visits by social workers and others for parenting education and support.

Congressional Republicans questioned in a news release on Thursday whether this expansion of early education would be effective and affordable.

"We can all agree on the importance of ensuring children have the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life," said Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. But he added, "The president's new early childhood education proposal should be carefully evaluated to ensure it will work for families and taxpayers without piling more debt on the backs of the children it is intended to benefit."

White House Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz said the funding details would not be disclosed until the president's budget is released in several weeks.

"None of this adds a nickel to the deficit," she said. "We've figured out a way to pay for it."

The plan could have wide popular appeal, especially with working parents. The White House also claimed that it would save participants and taxpayers money at a rate of $7 to every dollar spent, through results such as less crime and more job opportunities.

"Most middle-class parents can't afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool," Obama told his audience. "And for the poor children who need it the most, the lack of access to a great preschool education can have an impact on their entire lives. And we all pay a price for that."

The president said that he remembered from his own parenting that finding good child care can be hard, and expensive.

"The size of your paycheck, though, shouldn't determine your child's future," he said. "So let's fix this. Let's make sure none of our kids start out the race of life already a step behind."

States would have to meet certain benchmarks to qualify for federal preschool support under Obama's plan, which would involve meeting state-level standards, employing qualified teachers and monitoring student learning.

The federal government is already in the preschool business with Head Start, a program for low-income families with children from birth to age 5. Some studies have shown that the benefits of Head Start have a "fadeout" period by around third grade.

Kenneth Dodge, director of the Duke University Center for Child and Family Policy, said research studies show that preschool has positive effects as children enter kindergarten and elementary school.

"Then the question is how long the effects last," he said. "But that depends on the school system they're entering."

A conservative policy would give money that otherwise would be spent on Head Start to parents so that they could put their children in private or church-based preschools, said Lindsey Burke, an education fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington.

"Head Start has been a 48-year-long failed experiment with government preschool, and I'm afraid we'll see more of the same, based on the president's proposals," Burke said.

She said birth to age 5 was a pivotal learning period, "which is why I wouldn't want the government involved in such a critical time. We want children with families, with parents."

Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, an education advocacy group, said the quality care for disadvantaged children from birth to age 3, combined with expanded access to pre-kindergarten, was "exactly what has proven to work in early childhood education programs."

"We know learning begins early, and it's good common sense that you can't start at 5 and expect children to catch up," said Helen Blank, director of Child Care and Early Education at the National Women's Law Center. "We've taken some steps, but we've got a long way to go to close the gap."


By Renee Schoof - McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

(c)2013 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at www.mcclatchydc.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services



Moderators have removed this comment not because there was any discrimination in it, but because I disagree with their largest demographic: the uninformed idiot that spews sensationalistic yellow journalism that is repeated ad nauseum via Fox News and regurgitated by the Reflector. For conservatives, Freedom of Speech and Press only apply when it coincides or corroborates their drivel.


no matter what the project, if its free to them, the liberal heads will always say, its a great idea.

Turn this around and say, hey we want another 20 bucks a paycheck out of your pocket for this so called "free schooling" and they'd think and talk differently.

Preschool is paving the way because they learn so much. Its more like FREE BABYSITTING.....lets call it what it is. Government babysitting.


Free babysitting? As a preschool teacher this is insulting. I am not a babysitter. I would honestly like to see you run my classroom of 13 three year olds for 8 hours each day. Someone has to take time to teach them about shapes, colors, numbers, adjectives, MANNERS, hygiene, respect, honesty, love, sharing, safety (and I haven't even touched on what the state standards are requiring us to teach).


Yep, pretty much what I was thinking June. Our sons preschool teachers have been heaven sent. With two full time working parents, it is hard to find the time to work with them on all the subjects you mentioned. Probably wouldn't hear much if someone other than the commander in chief had proposed the idea. Some of us got skipped over in the MANNERS dept., as you can tell. God bless.


And I taught a semester at Maplehurst's preschool. You guys get all the props in the world...


Did I say anything regarding teachers? No. I am a HUGE supporter of the school systems and teachers. I said this will be another free route for babysitting.....in the eyes of many of these parents getting this for free. I should of explained that a bit more. Now more low income parent(s) can say hey....I can ship my kid off 3 days a week for free on the tax payers back so I can sit at home and Facebook or sleep more......

Again, not a rip at all on the teachers. I subbed at the 1st grade level many times for a year and its tough. All I was trying to get across is that our government is just handing out free babysitting passes to parents who will view it as that.


@ arnmcrmn:

betrump is porch puppy. A liar, troll and IMO, a waste of one's keystrokes and brain cells. Reasoning is not possible.


Everything you say is total crap that can be disproved with a google search. And it's funny you call someone ELSE a troll, as all you do is come on here every single day and bash any and all that don't agree with your stupidity. You are the single biggest full-of-yourself load of crap in town. If you're not willing to educate yourself, then do us all a favor and shut the h e l l up.


Thanks for the confirm!

Repeat: betrump is porch puppy. A liar, troll and IMO, a waste of one's keystrokes and brain cells. Reasoning is not possible.


Sounds like you, Winnie.


Sounds like you.


No need to worry about who's footing the bill. The end is near. There truely are people out there who need help. You think those parents you speak of are gonna bother to get off the couch to take the kid to preschool. They don't need babysitters, the kid can watch theirself. At least if the kid's at school, they've got a better chance at breaking the cycle. Education? We got wars to fight damn it.


Yeah, because democrats don't pay taxes. Brilliant argument.


most democrats don't pay taxes.......lol.....truth hurts.


That is because most Democrats are sucking of the government tit (welfare, food stamps, and subsidized housing. they vote Democrat to keep their easy cash flowing.
The ones not in those programs living off the government are in government.


The morons just feed off their own stupidity. It's no wonder Huron County has so few decent employers; they just need to look at the collective IQ on the reflector website and run the other way.


Maybe if you got off the site the "collective IQ" wouldn't drop so much


Oh, that was YOU that's studying political science in college, made the Dean's list a bunch of times, elected to student government, inducted into the Society of the Flame, and the National Honor Society. I thought it was me. My bad.


The academic and emotional levels of your postings read otherwise.


" betrump is porch puppy. A liar, troll and IMO, a waste of one's keystrokes and brain cells. Reasoning is not possible." Hey, real scholarly. Your intelligence shines through.

But what the heck: President Obama went to Harvard and was a professor of constitutional law, but you guys are sure you know more about it than he does, so I should expect nothing less than pure ignorance.


Just because one goes to college doesn't mean they know politics or are business smart.....hence betrump/porch puppy.


Obama proves he doesn't know business with his policies and he may have been a proffessor of Constitutional law but he doesn't follow the Constitution with his policies either.
Betrump may have made the deans list but based on her posts it must have been for plitical correctness and radical liberalness.


I've got a prop for you; it's called spell check.


But apparently if you hide behind a fake name and post on the reflector blog, you're an expert on politics and business. I'm amazed...for months and months I've seen your posts on here, and there isn't a single ounce of intelligence or common sense in any of them. Truly the epitome of ignorance.


Which discribes Betrump

If a Republican doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one.
If a Democrat doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Republican is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat.
If a Democrat is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Republican is homosexual, he quietly leads his life.
If a Democrat is homosexual, he demands legislated respect.

If a Republican is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Democrat wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a Republican doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels..
Democrats demand that those they don't like be shut down.

If a Republican is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church.
A Democrat non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Republican decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.
A Democrat demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a Republican reads this, he'll have a good laugh.
A Democrat will delete it because he's "offended".

To bad Betrump you can't delete it


@propman. Now let me first say, this is by far in all the years I have posted on any site....the BEST comparison bar none. This is pretty dang good.


@betrump.....pot meet kettle. 75% of your posts are nothing but name calling. What are you like 12? I only post that because the shoe fits. You bring NOTHING to any topic but name calling. If you are such an adult then throw your name out there for all to see. Ive done it several times because I don't post stuff that I wouldn't say to anyone's face. Come on big man, put your money where your mouth is. We are waiting.


Brian Trumpower. 70 Harris.


propman - You get a high five for that one!


hee haw! Y'all sure shown him! High five! Dun need no dern book-readin' round here! Can't wait til I tell Aunt Mamma!