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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Funding early childhood education beneficial to future

    Does anybody remember their preschool education? While we may not explicitly rely on the lessons we learned while playing with blocks and participating in sanctioned naptime, it is increasingly evident that early childhood education plays one of the most important roles in determining the path to success in adulthood.

    According to the National Education Association, those of us who were enrolled in preschool can expect to earn $2,000 more per month than those who were not. Preschool-educated individuals are also more likely to graduate high school, become homeowners and have lasting marriages.

    Similarly, those who were enrolled in an early education program are 35 percent less likely to have been arrested five or more times before age 40. These staggering statistics show that it’s not just playtime for these children; it is one of the most important developmental periods in their entire lives.

    This is why President Barack Obama made a bold call to expand early childhood education programs in his State of the Union speech this year.

    “I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America,” Obama said.

    In Arizona, many school districts offer some sort of preschool education, but space is limited and there is no guarantee a child will be able to attend. In the Tucson Unified School District, there are several early childhood education programs available to the public, but there is a selection process in most cases. Programs such as TUSD’s Parent and Child Education, require a teacher’s nomination of a child, for example. There should be affordable options for every child to participate in these important early education experiences.

    An investment in preschool education in Arizona would be a positive change and could provide great returns. In fact, according to the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, for every dollar spent on early childhood education, a state can see seven or more in return. But our state budget, which already underfunds education, cannot afford to expand or offer preschool programs to every child in the state.

    Perhaps Congress can be relied on to usher in this necessary component of education. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., has offered a bill called the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013.

    This bill would create a federal-state partnership to help ensure that low and moderate-income families can enroll their children in early childhood education programs. According to the NEA, it “promotes high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth until age 5.”

    The Strong Start for America’s Children Act does not establish across the board public preschool, but helps those who cannot afford pricey programs for their children find a way to give their child the foundation that they need.

    According to Obama, “fewer than 3-in-10 4 year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool.”

    Childcare is an expensive part of caring for an infant or toddler, but it is incredibly important. Therefore, sensible solutions, such as the Strong Start for America’s Children Act, should find support from Americans.

    These types of steps to improving early childhood education could usher in a new generation of exceptional Americans.

    Anthony Carli is a political science senior. Follow him @acarli10.

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