On Wednesday night, the President’s new Early Learning Initiative got a moment in the spotlight on the Daily Show. Host Jon Stewart, in that way only he knows how, highlighted the importance of investing in children’s early years. My trying to recap the clip will certainly erase all the humor, so I’ll let you watch it for yourself.
Think of life like a marathon (just go with me on this metaphor). Many of America’s most vulnerable children are starting five miles behind everyone else – yet we expect them to finish on par with their peers. Expanding the access these children have to high quality early learning opportunities will be revolutionary. I don’t say that to be hyperbolic, I say it as a former teacher who watched some of my 4th graders struggle with individual letter sounds and simple number sense. Once you’re that far behind in the race, it’s very difficult to catch up.
As Stewart mentions, if we as a country are serious about boosting our competitive rankings, we have to look at graduation rates. Student success rates are the result of a lifetime of learning, not a few months of test prep in high school. We need to start investing in children at the very beginning of their lives. The President’s plan is a comprehensive approach to early childhood, and these initiatives will put children and their families on a better long-term trajectory.