President Obama Talks Universal Preschool in Georgia

BlogHer Original Post

Not only did President Obama make a speech about his push for universal preschool in Decatur, Georgia, but as shown in some of the cutest photos to ever involve the POTUS, he also sat down and played blocks with children at College Heights Early Learning Center.

Increasingly, it seems like there are two kinds of early childhood experiences in America: one filled with Mommy and Me classes, sing-a-longs, and story times, and another kind which is devoid of all those things. I've seen it in my children's public school. Many of the five-year-olds enter Kindergarten already knowing how to write their names and reading The Cat in the Hat. Others have never been apart from their mothers or caretakers before, much less meet the basic expectations that they can count to ten or recognize simple shapes and colors. And sadly, the ones who start out behind are often same ones struggling to read chapter books or do more complicated math later on.

Feb. 14, 2013 - Decatur, GA, USA - U.S. President Barack Obama gets a hug from a child at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Georgia on Thursday, February 14, 2013. He visited the school to highlight their pre-kindergarten. (Credit Image: © Johnny Crawford/MCT/

The President wants to change that. In today's speech, he elaborated on his idea that high-quality preschool should be available for every child in America. Obama's preschool plan proposes that feds work with states to provide early childhood education to four-year-olds from low to moderate income families and expands upon existing Early Head Start programs to provide quality childcare for infants and toddlers.

But preschool is expensive. Ask any parent of a toddler, and they will say they can't wait until their child is old enough to go to (free) public elementary school. And that's why some Republicans are doubting whether the cost of universal preschool is really worth it and doubt the effectiveness of existing Head Start programs.

Is preschool really necessary? While studies show that youngsters who attend preschool perform better in class later, an article last month in Slate suggests that it's not the actual preschool that makes kids who attend early education programs more successful later on, but that kids who go to preschool already come from family environments where are more engaged and interested in their children's learning.

Did your kids attend preschool? Do you think all children should get early childhood education or can they do without it?

News and Politics Editor Grace Hwang Lynch blogs at HapaMama and A Year (Almost) Without Shopping.


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