Working Toward Pre-K for All

This blog was cross posted from the White House blog.

Yesterday, I joined Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a meeting with early education stakeholders who are working to advance a call that the President made in his State of the Union address.  These organizations shared with the Administration all they have been doing to raise their voice and their support all over the country to advance the President’s proposals for early education.

In the State of the Union address the President said:

Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road. But today, fewer than 3 in 10 four year-olds are enrolled in a high-quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for a private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. So tonight, I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every single child in America. That’s something we should be able to do.

The President has called for three proposals to support our youngest Americans: Preschool for All, Early Head Start-Child Care Parnterships, and an expansion of the Home Visiting program. These are proposals we should implement because the beginning years of a child’s life are critical for building the early foundation needed for success later in school and in career.  Leading economists agree that high-quality early education programs can help level the playing field for children from lower-income families on vocabulary, social and emotional development, while helping students to stay on track and stay engaged in the early elementary grades.

Children who participate in high-quality early education programs are more likely to do well in school, find good jobs, and succeed in their careers than those who don’t.  And research has shown that taxpayers receive a high average return on investments such programs, with savings in areas like improved educational outcomes, increased labor productivity, and a reduction in crime.

But the President’s proposal also extends beyond ensuring all 4-year-olds have access to a high-quality, public pre-kindergarten class, it also includes home visiting programs for low-income families, to ensure new parents have access to the help and support they need from local nurses or other care-givers, and it includes funding for additional high-quality learning programs for children from birth to age three.  By making these critical investments, the President will put resources where we know the return on our dollar is high: in our youngest children.

Yesterday, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services also teamed up release a new web video that provides an easy to understand explanation of the plan.  Anyone looking for even more information can visit

Check out the video and send it to a friend – as the President also said during the State of the Union, “let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.  Let’s give our kids that chance.”

Click here for an alternate version of the video with an accessible player.

Roberto Rodriguez is Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy


  1. Though I understand that this is an “excellent” idea, this program is basically ensuring school for four year-olds. I personally never went to a pre-school program of any sort and managed to do fine in High School (being on the Principal’s Honor Roll in all Honors and AP classes). Why add even more school for children who already spend 13 or more years in school?

    To help our childrens’ “education” we are sacrificing their childhood…

  2. As a retired Early Childhood Education and strong advocate of providing growth and development opportunities for ALL children, I support the President’s address of this issue. What is the exact “action plan” to move funding forward for children who live in families that are caught in the gap just above the eligibility range for child subsidy and just below the Title XX level of eligibility?

    In the current social system of our country, the poor remain poor while the rich remain rich if not getting richer while those just above the poverty level are left to the struggle without child care subsidy. How can a two-income family even exist when child care costs usurp one of the entry level salaries? How can such a family move forward and rise above the cost of early childhood tuition costs? Many of these young families are struggling to pay student loans, high rents, and taxes that do not address their needs for the first three years of parenting.

    Any suggestions?

  3. ALL children deserve access to high quality Early Childhood Education. The Federal government has to take on setting the standards because some state and local
    entities have little interest in investing in our collective future. Thank goodness the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Chamber of Commerces and law enforcement officials nationwide are on the Pre-k bandwagon. Every dollar spent on ECE now saves at least $7 to taxpayers later on. Yes parent involvement is a critical part but our communities-at-large will be the losers if we don’t provide Pre-K for all.

  4. I agree that we need to focus on the development of our youngest Americans. The only question is “Who is responsible for that focus?” It is not the responsibility of the federal government to make sure our 0-4 yr olds are building the early foundation needed for success later in school and in career. Rather, let’s empower parents with the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to build that foundation, by eliminating these costly national programs and cutting taxes, leaving parents with more of their own money in their pocket. This will free them up to “focus on the development of our youngest Americans” by investing more thoroughly in their own children. This article says that children who participate in “high-quality early education programs” are more likely to do well in school, find good jobs, and succeed in their careers. True. But many more studies show that children whose parents are proactively and consistently involved in their children’s lives are even more likely to excel in these areas. Let’s get the government, especially the federal government, OUT of education and put it back in the hands of parents where it belongs. The President said, “Let’s do what works.” This is what works. This President has consistently shown a deep-seated disdain for what actually works historically.

  5. This is an excellent idea, we just need to ensure that all politicians put education as the number one item on their agendas before selfish interests. Education is a long term investment.

  6. Every child needs access to quality early childhood education to ensure they have the skills to be successful in school and in life. The Presidents proposal is certainly heading us in the right direction.

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