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Early Education is a Bipartisan Issue

Early Education is a Bipartisan Issue

There are very few issues that both Democrats and Republicans are in agreement on and ready to prioritize—but early education seems to be one of those issues.

As the race for the 2016 presidential nomination gears up, supporting and funding early education has proven to be a concern that both parties are eager to address for the potential benefit of the country as a whole.

According to Forbes contributor John Lechleiter, Democrat and Republican presidential hopefuls should make early education a central focus to their respective campaign platforms.

"The presidential candidates of both parties would do well to make this a defining issue of the election—encouraging governments and the private sector to cooperate in boosting Pre-K learning programs," he said.

Indeed, studies have proven again and again that investing in early education has a massive impact on a child's future. When one study analyzed the benefits of early education with low-income African American children, the benefits were undeniable.

The study found that "roughly 67 percent of children who participated in a Pre-K program tested ready for Kindergarten versus just 28 percent of those who didn’t." Non-participants were also found to be less likely to graduate high school and make less money later down the road.

But according to Lechleiter, only a quarter of four-year-olds are enrolled in state-sponsored early education programs. Should parties unite and take on the issue together, this number has the potential to drastically increase.

Lechleiter references two different state-sponsored early education programs that are successful- one in a deeply "red state" and one in a "blue."

In the red state, Oklahoma, it created a universal pre-K program in 1998 that has provided universal pre-K for all that is so successful, over three-quarters of families in the state participate.

In the blue state, Massachusetts, "Pre-K is similarly popular. Last fiscal year, state officials doubled their investment in the effort to help cut down on the waiting list for existing spots, which numbered some 15,000 students," he said.

" ...the presidential campaign season is in full swing. Let’s hope it soon helps to make early childhood education an issue of national focus. These programs are a key to ensuring that all young Americans, regardless of the circumstances of their birth, have a fair shot at getting off on the right foot and flourishing."

Read Lechleiter's full post here and comment with your thoughts below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

08/25/2015

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