POTUS: “In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all”

WASHINGTON – Tonight in his final State of the Union address, President Obama acknowledged the tremendous progress that has been made advancing early childhood education during his administration, and he called for even greater achievements in the years to come.  This marks the fourth year in a row that early learning was included in the president’s annual address, highlighting what a high priority this issue is for the White House.

“Without question, President Obama has been an outstanding leader and steadfast champion for early childhood education,” said First Five Years Fund (FFYF) executive director Kris Perry. “The tremendous bipartisan achievements this administration has made with Congress to support America’s youngest learners has been nothing less than historic. We are incredibly grateful to President Obama for including early childhood education in his final State of the Union address, and for his efforts to bring national attention to the importance of strengthening our nation by investing in our greatest resource – our children.”

“We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job,” President Obama stated during the address. “The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we’ve increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.”

Brain scientists, educators, economists, and public health experts agree that quality early childhood programs produce greater outcomes for children and society. Investing in early childhood education is a solution that creates upward mobility through opportunity. What’s more, every dollar invested in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children delivers economic gains of 7-10 percent per year through increased school achievement, healthy behavior, and adult productivity, according to Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman.

Over the last year, the White House and Congress worked together in a bipartisan way to pass a number of early childhood education provisions.  The nation’s largest education bill, the Every Student Succeeds Act, now includes meaningful support for early learning. And the Appropriations Bill included nearly $1 billion in new money for early care and learning.

“The groundwork has been laid for the next president to work closely with Congress to achieve even more on early childhood education,” continued FFYF’s Kris Perry. “Experts agree that there’s work to be done to ensure young children, especially those in low-income families, have access to high quality early learning opportunities.  Regardless of who is elected in November, we will be working tirelessly over the next year to ensure he or she is able to convert the progress made over the last few years into something even greater for America’s youngest learners.”

About the First Five Years Fund

The First Five Years Fund helps America achieve better results in education, health and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children. FFYF provides knowledge, data, and advocacy – persuading federal policymakers to make investments in the first five years of a child’s life that create greater returns for all.