What do many neuroscientists, economists, psychologists, generals, faith leaders, parents, Republican and Democratic governors, teachers, principals, researchers, state and federal legislators, and business leaders all have in common? They share a belief that investing in high-quality early childhood education and early childhood educators will make America brighter, stronger, and more competitive. Why? Because decades of research show that early investment produces positive outcomes for our children, our families, and the economic future of our country.
We know that making early childhood education high quality boosts the well-being of children and that making it affordable helps parents get and keep a job. Americans—of all political, geographic, and demographic backgrounds—know this too. They understand how important it is for families to be able to choose high-quality early childhood education that best meets their needs. They recognize early childhood educators as professionals who have complex and demanding jobs and responsibilities. They understand the evidence-based connection between having high-quality educators and having high-quality education, and they know investing in early childhood education helps our country compete and win in the global environment.
From our nation’s inception, we have held a collective belief that all children, regardless of their circumstances, should have a fair shot at freedom and economic opportunity that comes with our democracy. But in reality, when kids start behind, they often stay behind – limiting their potential and their contributions to our country. Access to affordable, high-quality early learning boosts their chances to live up to that potential and become valuable contributors to society.
To fully extend America’s promise of a world-class education to the next generation, learning must start well before the first day of kindergarten for all children. Our nation can and must do better to create opportunities that help all children and families succeed.