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What you need to know about Obama's early education plan

5/21/2013, 11:43 a.m.
President Barack Obama has called on Congress to expand access to high-quality pre-school to every child in America. The president ...
President Barack Obama participates in a literacy lesson with children while visiting a pre-kindergarten classroom at Moravia Elementary School in Baltimore, Md.

“In states that make it a priority to educate our youngest children…studies show students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job, form more stable families of their own. We know this works. So let’s do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind.” President Barack Obama, State of the Union, Feb. 12, 2013

President Barack Obama has called on Congress to expand access to high-quality pre-school to every child in America.

The president is proposing a new federal-state partnership to provide all low- and moderate-income four-year old children with high-quality preschool. His proposal also seeks to expand access to high-quality preschool for children from middle class families and incentivizing full-day kindergarten policies.

Under his proposal, the U.S. Department of Education would allocate dollars to states based their share of four-year olds from low- and moderate-income families (those at or below 200 percent of the poverty line) and funds would be distributed to local school districts and other partner providers to implement the program. In order to access federal funding, however states would be required to meet quality benchmarks that are linked to better outcomes for children, include:

State-level standards for early learning

Qualified teachers for all preschool classrooms

A plan to implement comprehensive data and assessment systems.

Funds under this program may also be used to expand full-day kindergarten once states have provided preschool education to their low- and moderate-income students.

The president’s proposal, according to the White House, will also help expand the availability of Early Head Start, which provides early learning opportunities before kids begin preschool, as well as voluntary home visiting programs. Home visiting programs enable nurses, social workers, and other professionals to connect families to services and educational support that will improve a child’s health, development, and ability to learn.