Obama pushes preschool programs in Georgia trip

President Barack Obama on Thursday pitched a new plan to make preschool available to all 4-year-old children, declaring, "Education has to start at the earliest possible age."
Associated Press
Feb 15, 2013

With teachers as a backdrop, Obama made his case for greater access to preschool, arguing that poor children in particular can benefit. "Study after study shows that the earlier a child starts learning, the better he or she does down the road," he said. "But here's the thing: We are not doing enough to give all of our kids that chance."

It was Obama's second day on the road, after Tuesday's State of the Union address, to promote initiatives for his second term directly to the public.

His visit came on the same day Education Secretary Arne Duncan told senators on Capitol Hill that pending budget cuts could be devastating to current students and could hurt the nation's economy for years to come, if students aren't learning now.

"We're trying to do a lot more in terms of early childhood education, not go in the opposite direction," Duncan said. "Doing that to our most vulnerable children is education malpractice, economically foolish and morally indefensible."

Obama's team is warning Congress — and lawmakers' constituents — what is expected to happen if leaders fail to avert $85 billion in automatic budget cuts set to begin March 1. With the cuts looming, the administration has increased its pressure on lawmakers, and Obama's address Tuesday made clear he was not looking for compromise as he begins his second term.

Before his remarks in Decatur, Obama stopped by a classroom at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center, which serves kids from infancy through pre-kindergarten. He played games with about a dozen children, bending down to give hugs or offer a fist bump.

"If you're looking for a good bang for your education buck , this is it right here," Obama said afterward. He praised the teachers as highly qualified. "This is not babysitting. This is teaching."

The White House fleshed out Obama's plan Thursday, proposing a "continuum of high-quality early learning for a child, beginning at birth and continuing to age 5." The government would fund public preschool for any 4-year-old whose family income is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level — a more generous threshold than the current Head Start program, which generally serves kids from families below 130 percent of the poverty line. All 50 states and the federal government would chip in.

Obama also is proposing letting communities and child care providers compete for grants to serve children 3 and younger, starting from birth. And once a state has established its program for 4-year-olds, it can use funds from the program to offer full-day kindergarten, the plan says.

Still missing from Obama's plan are any details about the cost, a key concern among Republicans. The White House says federal investment in Head Start, an $8 billion program that serves almost 1 million kids, will grow. But Obama's aides have stressed that the new programs would not add to the nation's nearly $16.5 trillion debt.

"The last budget had over $1.5 trillion of mandatory and revenue savings, things like reductions in entitlements, closing loopholes," Jason Furman, a deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters Wednesday. He said the new initiatives would be smaller than that. Obama will outline details about the plan's cost when he sends his 2014 budget proposal to Congress next month, Furman said.

Ahead of that, the White House and Congress are weighing whether to let the deep automatic spending cuts to take hold on March 1. If that happens, some 10,000 teachers could be out of work and 70,000 students could be kicked out of Head Start programs, Duncan warned lawmakers. The cuts would also force an additional 14,000 Head Start workers to be laid off and would mean 1.2 million students from low-income families would have their schools' funding cut. Washington also would stop paying its share of 7,200 special needs educators' salaries.

If the White House wants to move ahead, officials are going to need help from the states to provide political cover and dollars alike. House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday involving the federal government in early childhood education was "a good way to screw it up." The Republican chairman of the House committee overseeing education policy, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., was cool toward the proposal and was unlikely to support new spending on it. And even Obama's allies acknowledged there was little Washington could do without governors' help.

Kline said that "before we spend more taxpayer dollars on new programs, we must first review what is and is not working in existing initiatives, such as Head Start."

Republicans and conservatives have questioned the effectiveness of Head Start programs, citing studies such as a Health and Human Services Department report last year showing that, while at-risk students enrolled in the pre-kindergarten programs saw tremendous gains in vocabulary and social development, those benefits largely faded by the time students reached third grade. The HHS report didn't explain why the students saw a drop-off in performance or predict how they would fare as they aged.

"There's reason for huge skepticism," said Mike Petrilli, executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank. "Most states are still in a ditch financially, and it's going to be a couple years before they're out of it. ... I don't know where the states are going to come up with the money for this."

Scores of other studies, however, were more favorable toward the program, which has been shown to make at-risk students more likely to complete high school and avoid criminal arrests. In pure dollars and cents, academics called it a smart investment.

 

Comments

goofus

Absolutely no where except in a leftist world, it's indoctrination so as to secure a voting bloc to keep them in power forever. As with illegal aliens and the welfare state!!!

deertracker

Do you know what the word "indoctrination" means? You neo-CONS make the most ridiculous comments!

goofus

Why does FEMA have multiple indoctination camps here in Ohio!
Rkidiculous comments are reserved for the left and Brutus as well as yourself sometimes!!!!

goofus

We need less fed and more states rights.

44846GWP

States rights is not what this country is about. If it were, we would have 50 countries. There is a reason its called "The United States".

goofus

This country used to be about state's rights. If you didn't like the state you were living in, it was alot easier relocating to another state. Now to get away from Obozo you have to go to Belize or Costa Rica!!!!!!

Contango

Zippy writes:

"There is a reason its called 'The United States'".

You're right. It's not referred to as the United “State.”

arnmcrmn

@44846. Wow, really? I didn't know our country was the United Government? This country was founded on "state rights"....I guess you missed that in history class. Maybe they can brush up on that during lunch at the retirement home for you.

kURTje

Really interesting reading these comments. Some of the posters I know a bit about. Yet like most they feel it is only them that counts. Our future could be grim with that approach.

donutshopguy

So if mandating four year olds to attend school than taking them at birth to start educating is even a better idea ? Isn't that the logic we are to follow? The government knows better than parents?

goofus

Reminds me of the shool lunch program when some federal person told the little girl that her mom packed her a bad lunch and she should purchase her lunch because the government knows better than her parent.

The Big Dog's back

If her parent is a right winger, Gov does know better.

Swamp Fox

if her parent is a left wing wacko its already a goverment handout...

coasterfan

It's an amazing thing to hear extremists who have absolutely no clue that they are at the extreme political edge. Here's a few hints that can help you self-identify:
1. If you think McCain and Romney were RINOs, you could be a right-wingnut.
2. If you think Obama is a Nazi, Communist, Marxist, Socialist or ultra-liberal, you could be a right-wingnut.
3. If you were curiously silent while Bush took a surplus budget and turned it into a free-falling deficit, then suddenly in Jan. 2009, became very vocal about the Federal deficit, you could be a right-wingnut.
4. If you make less than $250,000 per year and still vote Republican, you could be a right-wingnut. And also not terribly intelligent.
5. If you get your "news" mostly from Fox, and think that every other media source on the planet is part of "the liberal media", you could be a right-wingnut.
6. If you love America, but hate most Americans (specifically anyone who isn't like you), you could be a right-wingnut.
7. If you didn't notice that Rubio's rebuttal of Obama's State of the Union address was a carbon copy of the Romney platform that voters soundly rejected just 3 months ago, you might be a right-wingnut.
8. If you disagree with Bobby Jindal, when he said "Republicans need to stop being the stupid party", you are most decidedly a right-wingnut.

Swamp Fox

deer "It's an amazing thing to hear extremists who have absolutely no clue that they are at the extreme political edge". Glad you finally admitted it, how very liberal of you.....

This country was built on "how can I do it" not "how can the goverment do it for me".....

arnmcrmn

liberals dont get that. they love handouts and the word LAZY!!!!!

Contango

@ coasterfan:

Channeling a lefty version of Jeff Foxworthy?

Don't those who vehemently decry "right-wingnuts," tend to be "left-wing crazies?"

The Big Dog's back

So, so true coaster.

shucks

Coasterfan,
I Agree

Fromthe419

The bigger question is what are we going to do about the needed funds that seems to be the issue of the day in today's papers. I see levies for schools, police, and others. We see more tax increases coming out of DC, the state and local governments. How much should we all pay? You can't tax the rich 100 percent and you can't tax the middle class more...who do you go after? BHO's proposal to raise minimum wage to $9 per hours will get most of those off of medicaid and put them in a situation to pay for Obamacare or pay the penalty. Can someone on the left tell me how much I should pay in taxes? When you look at your bills each month and see all of the hidden taxes (excise, universal, sales, gas tax etc) we are taxed to death. Someone please tell me how much is enough

donutshopguy

Fromthe419,

Your taxes will be increased until you decide to stop working and let the government provide for you.

Contango

Rep. Jackson (D-IL) and his wife may be off to prison.

Proving yet once again that IL is known for crooked and corrupt politicians not unlike our Prez.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/1...

goofus

What in the world is scaring the left. With the presidency and the senate in their control why all the hatred and venomnous speech from their bloggers. You would expect them to so peaced out with the majority of government under their power, but instead of bliss, they are so full of hate and resentment of a minority. I thought the left was so tolerant of minorities instead of hatred! What are they scared of?

shucks

Goofus-- What makes you think that? The Left is scared?

(By the way, the Right is the ugly , hateful party.)

goofus

If one truly reads the blogging of Brutus,Coasterfan,John Harville, you and many more one can surely see the problem. They are so loaded with venom and hatred to their way of thinking, it has to be fear. They spend way to much time debunking Fox News and the Tea Party for fear that they will get people thinking. There is a different point of view out in the real world that they and the media fail to comprehend. Even Obozo referred to many as bitter clingers in flyover country. Why do they fear fox news and the te party so much that their only reason for life is to besmirch it. Funny that I have never heard of fox news being sued for libel.

shucks

Fox News and the Tea Party are hate filled - period.

Who got sued for libel ? There must be a link.

goofus

A leftist hate filled rant by a person with a serious comprehension problem!!!!!

shucks

Are you REALLY talking about my post ???

goofus

NO

arnmcrmn

goof, its simple, the left do not know the words....hard work, compromise..or any other word or phrase describing that fact that his country needs less government and more responsibility for ones actions in life.

Instead they have redefined and heavily emphasized the words....entitlement, handouts, government, welfare, your money is someone else money...etc.

The left has so much more hate. Look at the difference between the tea party movement vs the occupy movement. One was organized, civil, paid for permits and conducted themselves in a very responsible way....the other was full of trash, sex in public, had no core value for their movement, drugs, arrests, fightings and even people being killed.

The left better clean up their side....its pretty sad.

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