As part of Early Learning Day of Action, we are running a post that originally appeared at the National Journal Education Experts blog. In addition to the post below on the President's pre-K plan, we've also written on the proposed quality standards; partnership with states; pre-K momentum from business leaders and red states; proposed funding in the President's budget; debates on the President's plan; the idea of a tobacco tax; the cost of funding universal pre-K; and for The Atlantic, Lisa Guernsey and I explained why preschool isn't enough.
The President’s early education plan is a step in the right direction. It puts forward a vision of learning along a continuum, starting with pregnant mothers gaining assistance from visiting nurses, moving to expanding families’ access to public programs for babies and toddlers, adding more emphasis on preschool for 4-year-olds and continuing up through the next year, with a recognition of the need for more full-day kindergarten seats.
President Obama’s proposal recognizes that while preschool is certainly an important investment, its impact on children’s long-term success could be greater if it were linked with the rest of the education pipeline. His plan gives weight to the idea that we should no longer think of education as a K-12 system, but instead as a PreK-12 system. This is where I would like to see his plan go even further, by encouraging states to find ways in kindergarten to build instructionally on the knowledge and skills children gain in pre-K, ensuring that those benefits are sustained.