Obama spent much of his trip to Fort Knox College on Wednesday reiterating the importance of his proposal to give American children a publicly-funded preschool education.
The president unveiled his goal of providing quality early education for 4 year olds in his State of the Union address earlier this year and he is not backing down on his commitment.
“If you think education is expensive, wait until you see how much ignorance costs in the 21st century,” Obama said. “That’s why I’ll keep pushing to make high-quality preschool available to every four-year-old in America — not just because we know it works for our kids, but because it provides a vital support system for working parents.”
Obama’s Preschool for All initiative would secure funding from an increase in the tobacco tax from $1.01 per pack to $1.95. However, a closer look at the program’s financial details reveal a federal-state partnership to provide low income families the opportunity to gain high-quality preschool with incentives to expand the program to children from all income levels. Early indications show nearly 2 million four year olds stand to benefit from the publicly-funded preschool program.
Despite the impressive projected numbers, some policy experts say Obama’s idea is not worth pursuing.
“There are reasons to doubt that we yet know how to design and deliver a government funded pre-K program that produces sufficiently large benefits to justify prioritizing pre-K over other investments in education,” Grover Whitehurst, Director of the Brown Center on Education Policy posted on the Brookings Institute’s website.
Other skeptics note that past studies show very little evidence of long-term academic gains for children who attended preschool. Opponents of Preschool for All cite research which found that by fifth grade, students who attended preschool were no smarter or more social than their peers who skipped pre-K.
What’s your opinion on the preschool-for-all proposal? Are you for or against it?