“If we don’t make this investment [in education], we’re going to put our kids, our workers and our country at a competitive disadvantage for decades. So we have to begin in the earliest years, and that’s why I’m going to keep pushing to make high-quality preschool available for 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.”
—President Obama, July 24, 2013
President Obama, speaking to a crowd in Galesburg, Illinois highlighted the importance that high-quality early childhood care and education plays in ensuring that our youngest children are poised for upward mobility and success in life—and in building a strong economy that works for all Americans. The President made clear that early education is a key component of ensuring the country’s economic prosperity. He also emphasized that early education benefits both children and their parents.
Ensuring that children have affordable, high-quality early care and education means that parents are able to participate in the workforce, have the peace of mind they need to be productive at work, and provide for their families. When parents are able to work and contribute their talents, they also help make our economy as a whole more vibrant.
The economic gains do not end there. Research shows that children who participate in high-quality preschool are themselves more likely to have higher wage earnings as adults, be self-sufficient, and contribute to economic activity. As demographer Dowell Myers points out, with an aging baby boomer population, it is essential to invest today in the children who will eventually support the rest of us. The better they fare, the better we all fare—and supporting their success means starting early with high-quality learning opportunities.
President Obama knows how the puzzle fits together, and his early learning initiative is a far-reaching plan to ensure that our youngest children get the foundation that they deserve. Several hours after his speech, the National Women’s Law Center and members of the Strong Start for Children Campaign held a conference call with over 450 advocates from around the nation about efforts to advance the President’s early childhood proposal. In the coming months, these advocates and other parents, teachers, and citizens will rally support for this plan to ensure that our youngest children have the high-quality early learning opportunities that they deserve and our country needs for a successful future.