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Top 6 Myths About Early Education: #6

This week we’re debunking some of the most vicious myths about early childhood education. Come back tomorrow for a new fact check:

MYTH #1: The Achievement Gap is Not a Problem

MYTH #2: Early Learning is Ineffective

MYTH #3: Early Childhood Education is Too Expensive

MYTH #4: Successful Early Education Programs are Outliers

MYTH #5: The President’s Funding Plan for Early Education Won’t Work

MYTH #6: A National Effort is Doomed to Failure

We’ve now spent a week debunking and fact-checking some of the most glaring distortions and omissions made by opponents of early childhood education.

While there is something to be said for having a rigorous debate, when a policy is this well-studied—clearly shrinking the achievement gap and improving over-all academic performance—and this well positioned with a stable funding plan, we should really be asking how quickly we can get early education in place for every child. 

In the face of mountains of evidence, however, opponents have moved from principled opposition to out-right demagoguery, leaning on the boogey-man of a national take-over of education. This fallacy largely resides in the imagination of opponents, making it slippery to counter and even harder to envision.

Thankfully, the President hasn’t even come close to proposing this type of hyperbolic, monolithic government-oppression-via-preschool that some fear.

In fact, he’s made a very simple proposal: let states educate their children locally; no mandate, no order, just funding to expand preschool to the millions of children in this country who don’t have access or can’t afford a program in their community.

Georgia and Oklahoma are already leading the field, funding their programs with state dollars at below average costs and helping to enroll a significant number of 4-year olds at the same time. Using supplemental funding from the federal government, these programs can not only expand access, but increase quality at the same time.

The administration is looking to take these policies and help replicate them in all states with the funding and support they deserve – the very type of funding that has helped our international peers create universal pre-K for every child in their countries.

As with any new national proposal there is ample room for debate:

  • How do we define quality?
  • How do we expand access?
  • How far can we extend support to families above poverty but still in need?

But we won’t make any progress in answering these questions if we waste time and energy imagining problems that don’t exist.

As Secretary Arne Duncan says, bringing this policy in to reality will provide for “the largest expansion of educational opportunity in the 21st century.” All this while saving billions of dollars and developing a workforce—and a society—that can compete in the global economy.   

Not bad for a bunch of myths. 

Follow Rey Fuentes on Twitter: @reynextgen

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