Last week, the Newark Star-Ledger's Linda Ocasio asked me why our presidential candidates should be talking about early learning and child care -- the lead topic in an open panel discussion hosted by the Early Education Initiative and the Workforce and Family Program in Washington, D.C. this Thursday.
I answered with three main reasons: the potential for childcare to boost parents' ability to climb the job ladder and strengthen the economy, the tight connection between strong early learning experiences and children's later success in school and the urgent need to counter the pernicious effects of worsening child poverty in this country. The United States is one of the richest nations in the world, and yet nearly one in four children under age 6 are in poverty, and that number soars to more than one in two children when looking at families led by single mothers, according to Census numbers released earlier this month.
The Star-Ledger's Q-and-A also gave me a chance to explain why we need increased funding for early learning programs to prevent staff turnover, increase professional development opportunities for teachers and open access to more children. I also noted how quality rating and improvement systems are ramping up in dozens of states around the country.
In another venue last week, Dana Goldstein, one of New America's Schwartz fellows, also discussed the importance of early education and how it is playing out in the presidential campaign. Listen to her interview on the Brian Leher Show that includes a detailed discussion of what quality learning experiences look like in pre-K classrooms. (Goldstein begins speaking at minute 25.)
Also don't miss David Gray, director of New America's Workforce and Family Program, in his Huffington Post blog earlier this month pointing out that child care is oddly missing from both presidential candidates' policy platforms.