On Saturday, seven Republican presidential candidates gathered in Columbia, South Carolina at the Kemp Forum on Expanding Opportunity, to discuss ways to combat poverty and expand opportunity in the United States.  Everything from the role of states and healthcare reform, to technology and jobs were mentioned. But, we were delighted to hear many of the speakers at the event acknowledge one of the best ways to expand opportunity and combat poverty in the United States is through education, especially early education starting at birth.

Research shows us time and time again that targeted early childhood programs aid healthy brain development and help disadvantaged children succeed in school and make gains throughout life. Research also shows that quality early childhood programs have the potential to substantially improve outcomes in adult health and improve the economy. Put simply, investing in early childhood makes dollars and sense, and candidates on both side of the aisle agree. We need real solutions to combat poverty, and expanding early childhood education is a great way to do that.

View the great comments on education featured below. For a full video of the Kemp Forum, click here.

Jeb Bush, Former Governor of Florida:

“Education should be about children learning, not about the economic interest of the adults.”

“If a state wants to take its early childhood education plan, Florida has the largest voucher program for four year olds in the country. 140,000 kids go to private schools for half day program. It helps us with our early literacy efforts. We have had the greatest gains in learning for the little guys in the country. We started at a really low base…..”

John Kasich, Governor of Ohio:

“We have to pay attention to early childhood education. We can’t have people who are extremely poor, where they can’t have the development in their brains that they need. Because as we all know, if they don’t get it as they get older they lose the capacity to do as well as they can do.”

Nikki Haley, Governor of South Carolina:

“If you improve education, you lift up all things.”

“We are no longer to going to educate children based on where they are raised. We are going to educate every child because they deserve an education and that’s our future workforce.”

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC):

“Thank you very much to the people who believe in early childhood education.”

“If it takes me working with a Democrat to create an agenda to create jobs that don’t exist today and create education that is lacking, I will do my part.”