Early Learning Is an Economic Issue, But Not a Campaign Issue … Yet
August 1st, 2012 by Paul Nyhan
On Tuesday, politicians, advocates and journalists got together in the nation’s capitol to talk about the importance of high-quality early learning and their message was clear: It is an economic issue but not really a campaign issue.
The buzz from the Education for Success summit was that investments in early learning produce strong economic returns, including new jobs, and perhaps, more importantly, prepare the next generation of workers for the modern and global economy.
But, these benefits and early education issues in general have not made it into presidential and congressional campaigns, important steps towards winning more funding and support.
“This is not a budget problem, this is a priority problem,” Arthur Rolnick, a former economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, said in a statement over at the First Five Years Fund, which co-sponsored the event. “Research is overwhelming and studies show the returns are extraordinary. The earlier we start the more cost effective investments are.”
It was also interesting that two of the themes to emerge from the summit are also the focus of a lot of work in Washington state: systemic quality improvements and parental engagement.
Generally, summit speakers appeared supportive and their bipartisan endorsement wasn’t too surprising given that the keynote speaker was moderate former Republican congressman and Delaware Governor, Mike Castle. Still, the panel, which was also co-sponsored by the influential inside-the-beltway magazine National Journal, managed to generate attention for early education issues during the 2012 campaign season.
But Nina Rees, chief of the Alliance for Public Charter Schools, has a much more ambitious goal.
“We need to change the conversation such that school readiness is as important as college readiness.”
“Why Early Ed. Is Not a Marquee Issue in 2012 Campaign.” Early Years, Education Week. 7/31/12.
Washington State’s Champions of Early Education: In local public policy news, the Children’s Alliance launched its Crayon Awards , which will recognize 19 Washington state legislators for their work to expand access to high-quality early learning services, during the next two months.
Check it out.