- Lundergan Grimes uses ‘war on women’ strategy to attack McConnell
- Rep. Jeff Miller: ‘Ain’t no leash for VA’
- Al Qaeda nets $125M from ransom payoffs from Europe since 2008
- Ohio Gov. John Kasich cruising to re-election: survey
- Landslide hits Indian village; 150 may be trapped
- Albania bank loses $7M in theft; police arrest 2
- Gov. Mike Pence irked as Obama sends illegals to Indiana on sly
- Israel, White House say Obama phone call to demand cease-fire was fake
- Nancy Pelosi: Deporting kids un-Christian, sends them ‘into a burning building’
- Islamist militants seize special forces base in Benghazi, Libya
Obama calls for nationwide expansion of preschool education
Question of the Day
DECATUR, Ga. — Taking his push for expanded early childhood education to a deeply red state, President Obama on Thursday called on Congress to enact a sweeping program to extend preschool classes to every child in the U.S.
“Education has to start at the earliest possible age,” Mr. Obama told several hundred people at a community center in DeKalb County, Ga. “Fewer than 3 in 10 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. We all pay a price for that.”
The president said every dollar invested in early childhood education will save $7 later on by reducing rates of imprisonment, teen pregnancy and other social problems.
“If you’re looking for a good bang for your educational buck, this is it,” Mr. Obama said. “This is not baby-sitting.”
But critics believe the program may be yet another expensive federal program with dubious results, while others fear the idea could lead to standardized testing for preschool children.
The initiative is part of the president’s ambitious second-term agenda, laid out in his State of the Union address Tuesday night. It joins the Race to the Top federal grant program, the state waiver system to replace No Child Left Behind, and other steps in the White House’s education track record.
It’s unclear, however, how much the program will cost.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest wouldn’t reveal the price tag, saying it would be detailed in the fiscal 2014 budget, due out next month. He said the cost would be covered by other revenue and would not add to the budget deficit.
Many in the education community praised the idea Thursday, calling it a major step forward for the nation’s youngest students.
“The president’s statements have brought early education to the national stage. … Let’s make sure none of our children start the race of life a step behind,” said W. Steven Barnett, director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.
For families at or below 200 percent of poverty, the White House is proposing a cost-sharing program between the federal government and all 50 states. Proponents believe that provision, and the proposal as a whole, will level the playing field for low-income students.
“It puts our children on a solid path for success both in school and in life,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “When you invest in early childhood education, you invest in our children, our economy and America’s future.”
But she questioned whether the administration’s requirement that states have in place a “rigorous curriculum” could be seen as a call to test preschool students.
“The president is absolutely right to say we need to have high standards, a rigorous curriculum and evaluation systems, but we can’t imagine that the president is calling for testing 4-year-olds,” Ms. Weingarten said. “We hope others do not misinterpret his proposals. … [Successful pre-K programs] certainly are not focused on testing.”
Republicans have their own concerns. Rep. John Kline, Minnesota Republican and chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said more research is needed.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- Kerry's credibility questioned as fighting in Gaza rages
- Hillary Clinton: I was indeed 'dead broke,' but shouldn't have said so
- YALI2014: Obama to meet young African leaders amid economic push
- White House says Russia 'losing' war in Ukraine
Latest Blog Entries
- Obama and Boehner congratulate U.S. men's hockey on win over Russia
- Americans say income gap will shrink if government butts out, poll shows
- WH spokesman Jay Carney recognizes beard's 'insufficiency,' shaves it off
- Obama misses deadline again on budget
- Biden burns rubber in driveway, laments road restrictions
Ben Wolfgang covers the White House for The Washington Times.
Before joining the Times in March 2011, Ben spent four years as a political reporter at the Republican-Herald in Pottsville, Pa.
He can be reached at email@example.com.
- White House: No choice but to act now on climate change
- EPA hears testimony on proposed carbon emissions rules
- Russia in violation of 1987 missile treaty, White House says
- In politics, all states are 'border' states
- Libya now nation at risk with weak U.S. influence; embassy closes as chaos grows
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Patent workers paid to exercise, shop, do chores: report
- Fla. mom arrested for allowing 7-year-old son to walk to park alone
- CARSON: Rudderless U.S. foreign policy
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- Obama mum on where illegal immigrant children are sheltered
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell's wife had 'crush' on CEO
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- Feds sue Pennsylvania State Police over women's fitness tests
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world