The Center for American Progress (CAP) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce held a four-hour conference on the importance of investing in early childhood education initiatives proposed by U.S. President Barack Obama several weeks ago.
Neera Tanden, president of CAP, claimed that investing in early childhood education as Obama suggests would reap great rewards. She called it a “bold and significant” change in education policy and pushed the point that for every dollar invested, Americans will reap at least $7 in return. This joint conference, said Tanden, is a model of “how D.C. can act to solve” current problems and seemed to echo the Obama administration line of “blame Congress”.
Delaware Governor Jack Markell was the keynote speaker and a prominent advocate of Obama’s education policies such as Common Core. He praised the president’s efforts in reforming Delaware’s early childhood education and said that it is the “single-most effective economic development a state can make” and will lead to “job creation” sooner rather than later. It will create, said Markell, “long-term savings” if educators and policymakers “get it right.”
Then Markell lapsed into a Michelle Obama-type routine, where he said the “foundation of all our efforts is a healthy start” and to push healthy eating and exercise in the home. Markell also emphasized the need to pre-screen children for disabilities and developmental issues, often repeating the phrase, “this is a game-changer.”
He explained why Delaware is a leading example of the success of early childhood education because they found that high-quality, early-care centers do not recruit the poor and low-quality centers do not invest in quality to attract the rich. To solve that, Markell pushed for a star-rating system based on quality and one that would receive government subsidies. For example, a 5-star high-quality care center would receive 100% reimbursement from the government based on “market value” from the government for increasing quality and of care.
One of the most ironic things Markell mentioned was how “governors are not measured on making great speeches,” although he was making a speech to disprove that point. Then, he went into the “blame Congress” dialogue, saying that “politics and partisanship creates a divide.” And somewhere in his remarks he brought up how “the science is so clear” about the benefits of early childhood education, all without providing data or citing his sources. This was a common occurrence at the summit.
Spencer Irvine is a staff writer at Accuracy in Academia.
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