President Obama has been busy in the last few days rousing thousands of early childhood practitioners and advocates with his call for high-quality pre-k for all low- and moderate-income families. The administration has clarified parts of the plan, which have answered some questions and opened some new ones. The proposal is the biggest push for early childhood services since Head Start in the 1960s, a federally funded pre-k program to serve low-income families.
The plan, which I will henceforth refer to as “Obama-garten” (you’re welcome), proposes a four-pronged approach to supporting the development of young children through the expansion of high-quality pre-k access, full-day kindergarten, Early Head Start for infants to 3-year-olds, and a home visiting initiative. Many are pleased that the plan involves the under-three crowd, which is often neglected in U.S. policy. The details of the “new federal-state partnership” to expand high-quality pre-k to children up to 200% of the poverty line and incentivize states to “broaden participation in their public preschool program for additional middle-class families” have yet to be fully explained, but my guess is that some pretty tasty looking carrots will be dangled in front of states in order for them to participate. And participate they should. In fact, a handful of states, both red and blue, have already pledged some kind of commitment to supporting young children and their families in the last few months, signaling increased readiness to beef-up their early childhood services.
Several elements of the plan need to be pulled apart and further explained to get a sense of whether the plan is feasible. Continue reading Obama Calls for Expansion of Early Childhood Services