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New Studies Support President Obama’s Early Childhood Education Budget Proposal

obama-educationThe recent buzz surrounding the efficacy of preschools is often fueled by President Barack Obama’s pledge to increase spending on preschools, asking Congress to fund preschool for every four-year-old in every state. His proposed $75 million budget would span a total of 10 years, and result in higher quality early education settings for children.

A new study from the Society for Research in Child Development shows that President Obama’s plea is well-founded. Researchers found that preschoolers add at least a third of year of additional language, math and reading skills to their education, and in some cities, such as Boston and Tulsa, instruction resulted in almost an entire year of supplemental learning. These benefits also extend to lower and middle income children, with these students gaining the most from publicly funded preschool programs.

“It is important to make sure our youth have a strong educational base to build their knowledge through adolescence,” explains Robert Ribeiro, Director of the Richmond Hill Montessori School. “Taking more time when the children are at this key stage in their development will give them this knowledge.”

But the push for universal preschool has been met with some opposition, particularly from parents and educators who feel that these programs do not work. They also question how effective preschool is in securing longtime academic and societal benefits.

To answer this, preschool advocates need only turn to Pennsylvania, where a new study from an organization called Ready Nation/America’s Edge, clearly shows the advantages of placing children in education settings early on. The report claims that Pennsylvania’s economy would experience a $1.79 return for every $1 invested on a preschool education.

The organization’s study calculates that the investment could pay off big in America’s employment sector as well, creating at least 28,000 new jobs, more than 5,600 of which would extend beyond early childhood education setting. Additional benefits of preschool include a lower drop out rate, and a greater chance of students pursuing post-secondary education, according to the study.

Other states are making their case for early childhood education heard as well. This month, the Minnesota Senate voted to roll out a $210 million dollar budget toward funding early childhood education, raising elderly care workers’ salaries, as well subsidizing several other state-funded programs. Half of the $41 million allocated to education would be used for early education programs, and an additional $8 million would be spent on scholarships for preschool.

The fight to keep high quality preschools alive is also an international concern. In Australia, parents recently deluged Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office with letters protesting his proposed 2015 budget cuts to funding for preschools. The current budget supports 15 hours of preschool a week for every four-year-old. A petition has reached more than 600 parents, and claims that the cuts would reduce a child’s readiness for kindergarten, and eliminate job opportunities within the early childhood education sector.

Domestically, the advantages of preschool education appear undeniable when looking at the expected return on investment in Pennsylvania alone, but every state would need to test similar conjectures for these findings to be conclusive. Even still, with the push for more preschools gaining momentum, one thing is clear: President Obama has more supporters than he realizes.



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