Following the President’s call for expanding access to high quality preschool during the State of the Union, the White House has now released a new document providing more detail. You can read the entire fact sheet here.
While the proposal is framed as “Preschool for All”, it would focus primarily on expanding federal funding to help pay for preschool for children up to 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The plan would strongly incentive states to do more to expand preschool, but is not technically a universal preschool plan.
Expanding preschool, though, is only one part of the overall plan. It would also create a new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership, expand a program that provides home visiting for at-risk families, and would encourage states to adopt full day kindergarten.
Most of the elements sound promising and could make a positive improvement in our society, but the details of how it would work are still vague.
Noticeably absent is any indication of how the administration wants to pay for these new programs. Since Obama said deficit reduction must come first and that any preschool proposal will not “add a dime to the deficit,” all these proposal now completely depend on finding a funding source. This artificial constraint imposed by Obama is going to be nearly impossible to overcome with Washington still deficit obsessed.
This is deeply unfortunately because with interest rates so low what the government should be doing is simply borrowing money cheaply to put into what is clearly a smart long-term investments.
Photo by Rona Proudfoot under creative Commons license