Today, a group of over 300 business leaders representing 44 states signed a letter calling on President Obama and Congress to invest in early learning programs. These CEOs, chambers of commerce and business roundtables represent large companies like Delta Airlines and PNC Financial Services Group and smaller companies like Scope View Strategic Advantage in Charlotte, NC and C.H. Briggs Company in Reading, PA. Regardless of their location, size or scope of business, all agreed on one thing; investing in early childhood education is the right thing to do for our nation’s children.
“We rarely have the luxury,” their letter says, “of making business investment decisions with as much evidence as we have to support the economic value of investing in early care and education.”
Earlier this year, President Obama put forth a “Preschool for All” proposal in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget, and the Department is currently seeking input from stakeholders on the president’s plan for the federal government to partner with states in making access to high-quality early learning a reality for every four-year-old in America.
The President’s proposal is for a deficit-neutral investment of $75 billion over 10 years to create new partnerships with states to provide high-quality preschool for all 4-year olds. An additional $750 million will provide competitive grants to states to strengthen their early learning systems. Combined, the proposal will raise the quality of all early learning programs and will align current investments, including home visitation, creating a birth to age 5 pipeline of services and support that prepares children for kindergarten and beyond.
This plan is entirely consistent with the business leaders’ declaration that, “Early care and education is not a partisan issue. It is an American competitiveness issue that impacts all of us,” and with their support for the adoption of policies that “give all children the chance to fulfill their potential and create the best workforce and economy in the world.”
Studies prove that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in school. And because behavioral skills highly valued by employers, such as self-discipline, persistence and cooperation, start in the youngest years and last a lifetime, President Obama and Secretary Duncan agree that quality early childhood programs have a significant and positive impact on the American workforce, customer base, economy and nation we need in a 21st century environment.
For more information and to read the full text of the letter, please visit: www.readynation.org/signatories-business-letter
Cameron French is the Deputy Press Secretary at the U.S. Department of Education