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Arne Duncan’s Mission: Sell The Preschool Plan

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By Dr. Marciene Mattleman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - Federal education secretary Arne Duncan isn’t in Washington much these days. He’s visiting states to convince governors to approve $75 billion in new federal tobacco taxes to fund his early-childhood plan, “Preschool for All.”

The average disadvantaged child comes to kindergarten a year to a year-and-a-half behind other kids…and we spend time and money trying to catch up…wondering why we have an achievement gap.

But, as Lyndsey Layton in The Washington Post puts it, the dividends from preschool investment – higher rates of high school graduation and employment, lower rates of incarceration and teen pregnancy – don’t catch up until years later…. which makes it a hard sell now.

Under the plan, the Feds would offer grants to states to enroll 4-year-olds from low and moderate income families, starting with 91% down to 25% after 10 years. Additionally, $15 billion would fund programs for babies and toddlers.

Education and politics are not necessarily mutually exclusive; there’s enough research telling us we have no choice.