Top 10 Reasons Why the Expansion of High-Quality Early Learning is Inevitable

Throughout the country, there is a tremendous unmet need for high-quality early learning. Fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in high-quality preschool programs, and yet, the importance of early learning is clear. Studies prove that children who have rich early learning experiences are better prepared to thrive in kindergarten and beyond.

In a recent speech during the National Governors Association’s winter meeting, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that we have reached an important turning point in the debate over early learning. “Demographic, economic, and ideological forces are all combining today to propel a big expansion of high-quality early learning,” Duncan said. “We just need Congress to catch up with the rest of the country.”

In his speech, Duncan provided ten reasons why states and the country will see a dramatic expansion of high-quality early learning over the coming few years:

President with Student

A young student uses a stethoscope to hear President Barack Obama’s heartbeat during a classroom visit at Powell Elementary School in Washington, D.C., March 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

10. There is much greater public awareness today of the importance of the early years to the long-term health, learning, and success of our children and our communities–and it is coupled with widespread public support for a big expansion of early learning.

9. A powerful, bipartisan coalition of governors are funding expansions in the states—in some cases, big expansions—of high-quality early learning programs.

8. There is a remarkably diverse and robust coalition of law enforcement officials, military leaders, clergy, CEOs, unions, parents, and others that strongly support expanding high-quality early learning opportunities.

7. The old arguments that states should have no role in providing low- and moderate-income families with voluntary access to early learning and child care have lost force.

6. There is a growing recognition that quality matters tremendously when it comes to early learning.

5. For the first time, a majority of the states are now assessing the school readiness of children when they enter kindergarten.

4. The enactment of third grade reading laws in many of your states is going to propel an expansion of high-quality early learning.

3. America is way behind high-performing countries in our provision of early learning–and there is a growing awareness that high-quality early learning is critical to sustaining our international economic competitiveness.

2. America is currently in the midst of an unprecedented wave of innovation and capacity-building when it comes to early learning–and a new federal-state partnership helped unleash this wave of innovation.

1. The enormous unmet need and demand for high-quality early learning.

Visit for more information on the Obama administration’s plan to expand high-quality early learning, and read Secretary Duncan’s full speech.

Cameron Brenchley is director of digital strategy at the U.S. Department of Education


  1. All the schools in India are providing best education when we compare to other countries. Especially in some states in India like Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamilnadu are best education going on. So, cities like Bangalore, chennai and mumbai can suggest for best studies. Their way of teaching is different from other schools. They are mostly focussing on be practical whatever it may be no need to read or write. Some Top CBSE schools like SBOA, St. Joseph and Presidency in North side are giving best coaching for ever.

  2. Proverbs 22:6 NIV
    Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old
    they will not turn from it.

  3. While I agree about the need for “quality” early learning programs, it should be based on research. The Westinghouse program was longitudinally researched and no difference among the children was noted. The Head Start programs grew from the Westinghouse program but with no changes based on the research. Then Head Start programs were staffed with hourly or salaried personnel with little to no educational training. Someone promoting these programs did not know the developmental stages or chose to ignore them and based ‘curriculum’ and based the program on customary academics. Academics is usually not the problem but the background knowledge one gains by being played with, talked to, read to, disciplined, etc. When we as a nation look beyond ‘academics’ and services based on monetary levels and begin to look at human development and how all people mature and learn, then we will have not just a viable program, but one the world will acknowledge as unbiased, researched, workable, and remarkable.

    • I agree with this, I feel that our culture, in general needs to be more aware that quality early childhood education is not just about academics, but teaching the whole child. Effective early childhood teachers need to be knowledgeable about child development and academics and adjust the program using this combined wisdom to meet the needs of each child.

  4. This is great news that America is finally getting on board in a very serious and significant way to promote early learning in children! The empirical research has been done and is ongoing, providing us with a criterion-rich framework within which to establish and sustain meaningful experiences and outcomes for young children. Thank you President Obama, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, and the National Governors’ Association for taking a juggernaut leap of action in this critical debate.

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