‘Early Childhood Program Initiative’ by Amber Hendrix

‘Early Childhood Program Initiative’ by Amber Hendrix Amber Hendrix Consulting

A growing trend in the United States is for children to attend early childhood programs. The majority of children attending public school reside in low-income and poverty households, and less than 3 in 10 of these children are enrolled in a play-based or academic-based program by 4 years of age. Research shared by the Department of Education shows that there are short-term and long-term benefits that children (especially those in at-risk situations) receive from participating in a quality preschool. Policymakers and educators continue to discuss and propose various ways to close the gap between socio-economic status, and affording every child opportunity to obtain a quality education. While they agree that it is a realistic plan to have over 6 million children to enrolled in early childhood education programs, within the next 5 years, they do not agree on how to do so.

President Obama introduced an initiative that would result over 6 million children, across the U.S., in being able to obtain an early childhood education. According to the Department of Education statistics, the U.S. is currently ranked 25th globally for children attending enrolled in an educational program by 4 years of age. Ireland, Mexico and Israel are just a few countries who out-rank the U.S. in enrolling 4-year-old children in such programs. It also evidences that children who obtain early childhood educations are more likely to be developmentally ready to enter kindergarten, and decreases special education placement, teen pregnancy and crime rates, while increasing graduation rates and enrollment into college. The information shared by President Obama and the Department of Education concludes that children who obtain a quality education are more likely to have a higher earning potential.

Regardless of one’s educational philosophy or political affiliation, it seems appropriate to consider the initiative introduced by President Obama. “This proposed program is a voluntary, federal-state partnership that would be administered by the Department of Education and would build upon and strengthen existing state systems to provide all low- and moderate-income 4-year-olds with high-quality, publicly-funded preschool.” If the long-term benefits outweigh initial funding concerns, then it seems a logical argument that a state-federal partnership to create and expand early childhood programs is realistic. Educators will work with policymakers to ensure that the early childhood standards and criteria are developmentally appropriate for children.

Finally, educators and parents have different philosophies of education. Parents make the decision to have their child(ren) attend a public school, a private school, or to be homeschooled. Regardless of the diverse philosophies, policymakers and educators are proposing initiatives that realistically would provide millions of children the opportunity to obtain an early childhood education, as it tends to have short-term and long-term socio-economic benefits for children, and their families and communities across the United States.

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