The National Forum on Education Policy wrapped up its final day Thursday with keynote speakers Arne Duncan, U.S. Secretary of Education, and Kathleen Sebelius, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
The topic of both speeches was President Barack Obama’s proposal for expanding early learning, or early childhood education, nationwide through the Preschool for All program.
“Unlike what you might have heard, this is not some entitlement program,” Duncan said to the hundreds of teachers, commissioners and legislators gathered in the Renaissance Hotel ballroom...
"The vast majority of kids who aren’t getting in [early learning programs] are starting school a year to 14 months behind,” Duncan said to reporters after his speech. “That’s the reality, and that, to me, is unsettling.”
Interesting that Duncan would point out the President's comments on early childhood education in the state of the union since there were plenty of people who pointed out after the President's speech that the largest early childhood education program, Head Start, with 40 years of data showed no advantage to putting kids in early education in the long run.
That makes Senator Pearce's comment regarding the requirement for states to match federal dollars by 10%, “A 10-to-one return sounds pretty good,” even more confusing. There is no demonstrable long term pay off in investing in early childhood education. If he is referring to the low state commitment compared to the federal dollars, he should read more about what Virginia and New York found when they looked at the cost of compliance with federal programs compared to the federal dollars taken in. Their conclusion was that it was too expensive for the state to take the federal dollars. The long term commitment to the program ended up costing almost 4 times as much as they received from DC. Being beholden to a federal program's mandates and reporting requirements does not seem worth the 10% investment.