The United States has to get out of the “catch up game” Secretary Arne Duncan said last week during a visit to an early childhood center in Kentucky. “Investing in high-quality early childhood education will help all our children get off to a strong start,” he said. Duncan joined local business, education, law enforcement, military, faith-based, and state leaders in Louisville last Thursday for a round table discussion at the St. Benedict Center for Early Childhood Education.
Duncan also participated in a community town hall later in the day at the YMCA Children’s Center in Middletown, Ohio. Both centers have been accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
“Everywhere I go, there’s great work but tremendous unmet need,” Duncan said during his two-state visit. “We want to invest in and partner with states to provide services to more children.”
Duncan also spoke of the importance of providing a high-quality pre-kindergarten experience because it not only sets children on a positive trajectory for later school success, but also helps to develop their cognitive, social, and emotional development.
Research shows that children who participate in high-quality preschool programs demonstrate higher achievement levels in the elementary grades, show greater interest in learning, are less likely to require special education, and are more likely to graduate from high school. Research also shows early learning is a great investment: there is a documented $7 to $1 return on investment over time.
Earlier this year, President Obama put forward a plan to make access to high-quality early learning a reality for every 4-year-old in America. The proposal will drive states and local school districts to be more engaged in improving outcomes for their youngest learners and will ensure that all children start kindergarten prepared for success in school and life.
Visit www.ed.gov/early-learning to learn more.
Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education