The benefits of an early education are widespread. Studies have shown that early childhood education increases a child’s chance of graduating high school, going to college and even being able to buy a home later in life. While these advantages are well documented, early childhood education for many remains a privilege, not a guarantee.
Across the country, states are calling for an increase in federally funded early education and better access to early education. According to EdCentral, the results from a Gallup poll released last week revealed that 70% of Americans are in favor of using federal funding to improve universal pre-K programs. Even more than half of Republicans surveyed, who are generally not in favor of using federal dollars to support pre-K programs, said that they would support such a policy.
Early childhood education is a particularly hot topic in politics at the moment, with the November elections coming soon. Political groups from many different states are launching campaigns to call for education reforms. In Chicago, the Progressive Reform Caucus has proposed a resolution to the city’s declining pre-K education system.
The resolution supports a full day of education and early care to all children under five years of age in Chicago. Backed by Bright Future Chicago, a new coalition of parents, educators and labor organizations, the resolution would give children from all economic backgrounds access to quality pre-K education, and their parents access to quality child care services.
A lack of early childhood education opportunities in the city has created a vicious cycle for parents in poor communities. Many need to work during the week in order to support their families, yet they have to stay home and take care of their young children because they don’t have access to affordable child care services. Proponents of pre-K reforms say that universal educational programs would solve this issue and serve as a quality investment for society as a whole.
Chicago alderman Roderick Sawyer stressed, in a report issued by Progress Illinois, that providing a quality education to children at an early age benefits the child and their parents, and makes our society more productive overall.
There seems to be no lack of support for expanding federal funding for early childhood education, but legislation has yet to be passed to make universal pre-K programs a reality.