Obama pushes for expanded early childhood education

Updated
President Barack Obama visits a pre-kindergarten classroom at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga.
President Barack Obama visits a pre-kindergarten classroom at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga.
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

President Obama traveled to the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga., Thursday to campaign on behalf of his proposal to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America.

As part of that visit, he got to sit down and play with 16 four- and five-year-olds. The president was clearly at ease, sitting in the tiny child-size chair, fist bumping and high-fiving kids, and playing a game with a magnifying glass that reminded him of his childhood. ”This is sort of like ‘I Spy.’ I remember ‘I Spy,’” he said, according to the pool report.

The kids attending this school are lucky. As the president pointed out in his State of the Union speech, fewer than 3 in 10 four-year-olds enroll in a high-quality preschool program.

“Most middle-class parents can’t afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool,” he said in Tuesday’s speech. “And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives.”

He reiterated that call during remarks he made at the school after his play-date with the preschoolers. “Study after study shows that the earlier a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road.”

“Michelle and I remember how tough it can be to find good child care. I remember how expensive it can be too,” he said. “The size of your paycheck, though, shouldn’t determine your child’s future. So let’s fix this.”

Obama’s proposal would provide federal money, possibly as much as $10 billion a year, to help states expand early childhood education to poor and lower-middle class children.

Obama pushes for expanded early childhood education

Updated