Today Secretary John King is scheduled to speak the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. He brings a simple message to early education professionals and advocates: access to early learning programs is not enough; children need access to high-quality programs.

According to remarks distributed ahead of the event, Secretary King plans to highlight President Obama’s legacy on early childhood education by featuring two Early Learning Challenge (ELC) grantees. RTT-ELC encourages states to establish quality rating systems in order to help parents and families chose the early learning environment that best fits their child.

As President Obama mentioned in his speech on the rise in graduation rates at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School last month, “[education] starts with our youngest learners. High-quality education is one of the best investments we can make.” Research consistently shows those who experience quality early care and learning have better education, health, social, and economic outcomes in life- increasing their productivity and reducing the need for spending later on.

This enthusiasm is also seen by a majority of voters across the political spectrum. For four years running, the First Five Years Fund’s bipartisan poll shows a majority of voters want greater access to affordable, quality early childhood education. Even in the midst of an angry and polarized election, 90% of voters agree on one thing: Congress and the next president should work together to make quality early childhood education more accessible and affordable to low- and middle-income families.

It is our hope that Congress and a new Administration can harness the bipartisan energy and momentum to further support state and local efforts to expand high-quality early childhood opportunities for all children birth through age five.

Watch the Secretary’s speech live at 4pm.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Media Advisory can be found here.