Obama pushes preschool programs in Georgia trip

EVAN VUCCI/ASSOCIATED PRESS
President Obama looks through a magnifying glass during a learning game at a pre-kindergarten classroom at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, Ga.
Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 1:19 PM
Last updated Friday, Feb. 15, 2013 1:51 AM
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DECATUR, Ga. — President Obama on Thursday pitched a new plan to make preschool available to all 4-year-old children, declaring, “Education has to start at the earliest possible age.”

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President Obama gets a hug from a child at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center, in Decatur, Ga. He visited the school to highlight their pre-kindergarten program.   JOHNNY CRAWFORD/ASSOCIATED PRESS
JOHNNY CRAWFORD/ASSOCIATED PRESS
President Obama gets a hug from a child at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center, in Decatur, Ga. He visited the school to highlight their pre-kindergarten program.

With teachers as a backdrop, Obama made his case for greater access to preschool, arguing that poor children in particular can benefit. “Study after study shows that the earlier a child starts learning, the better he or she does down the road,” he said. “But here’s the thing: We are not doing enough to give all of our kids that chance.”

It was Obama’s second day on the road, after Tuesday’s State of the Union address, to promote initiatives for his second term directly to the public.

His visit came on the same day Education Secretary Arne Duncan told senators on Capitol Hill that pending budget cuts could be devastating to current students and could hurt the nation’s economy for years to come, if students aren’t learning now.

“We’re trying to do a lot more in terms of early childhood education, not go in the opposite direction,” Duncan said. “Doing that to our most vulnerable children is education malpractice, economically foolish and morally indefensible.”

Obama’s team is warning Congress – and lawmakers’ constituents – what is expected to happen if leaders fail to avert $85 billion in automatic budget cuts set to begin March 1. With the cuts looming, the administration has increased its pressure on lawmakers, and Obama’s address Tuesday made clear he was not looking for compromise as he begins his second term.

Before his remarks in Decatur, Obama stopped by a classroom at the College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center, which serves kids from infancy through pre-kindergarten. He played games with about a dozen children, bending down to give hugs or offer a fist bump.

“If you’re looking for a good bang for your education buck, this is it right here,” Obama said afterward. He praised the teachers as highly qualified. “This is not babysitting. This is teaching.”

The White House fleshed out Obama’s plan Thursday, proposing a “continuum of high-quality early learning for a child, beginning at birth and continuing to age 5.” The government would fund public preschool for any 4-year-old whose family income is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level – a more generous threshold than the current Head Start program, which generally serves kids from families below 130 percent of the poverty line. All 50 states and the federal government would chip in.

Obama also is proposing letting communities and child care providers compete for grants to serve children 3 and younger, starting from birth. And once a state has established its program for 4-year-olds, it can use funds from the program to offer full-day kindergarten, the plan says.

Still missing from Obama’s plan are any details about the cost, a key concern among Republicans. The White House says federal investment in Head Start, an $8 billion program that serves almost 1 million kids, will grow. But Obama’s aides have stressed that the new programs would not add to the nation’s nearly $16.5 trillion debt.

“The last budget had over $1.5 trillion of mandatory and revenue savings, things like reductions in entitlements, closing loopholes,” Jason Furman, a deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters Wednesday. He said the new initiatives would be smaller than that. Obama will outline details about the plan’s cost when he sends his 2014 budget proposal to Congress next month, Furman said.

Ahead of that, the White House and Congress are weighing whether to let the deep automatic spending cuts to take hold on March 1. If that happens, some 10,000 teachers could be out of work and 70,000 students could be kicked out of Head Start programs, Duncan warned lawmakers. The cuts would also force an additional 14,000 Head Start workers to be laid off and would mean 1.2 million students from low-income families would have their schools’ funding cut. Washington also would stop paying its share of 7,200 special needs educators’ salaries.

If the White House wants to move ahead, officials are going to need help from the states to provide political cover and dollars alike. House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday involving the federal government in early childhood education was “a good way to screw it up.” The Republican chairman of the House committee overseeing education policy, Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., was cool toward the proposal and was unlikely to support new spending on it. And even Obama’s allies acknowledged there was little Washington could do without governors’ help.

Kline said that “before we spend more taxpayer dollars on new programs, we must first review what is and is not working in existing initiatives, such as Head Start.”

Republicans and conservatives have questioned the effectiveness of Head Start programs, citing studies such as a Health and Human Services Department report last year showing that, while at-risk students enrolled in the pre-kindergarten programs saw tremendous gains in vocabulary and social development, those benefits largely faded by the time students reached third grade. The HHS report didn’t explain why the students saw a drop-off in performance or predict how they would fare as they aged.

“There’s reason for huge skepticism,” said Mike Petrilli, the executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a conservative education think tank. “Most states are still in a ditch financially, and it’s going to be a couple years before they’re out of it. … I don’t know where the states are going to come up with the money for this.”

Scores of other studies, however, were more favorable toward the program, which has been shown to make at-risk students more likely to complete high school and avoid criminal arrests. In pure dollars and cents, academics called it a smart investment.

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billcass
1045
Points
billcass 02/14/13 - 01:48 pm
8
4
Ambitious government program

Equals hide your wallet. Like most of the President's ideas, this sounds wonderful. I mean, gosh, who could be against such a thing? But then you realize someone actually has to pay for it, and odds are it won't be the people getting the free stuff.

Little Lamb
49072
Points
Little Lamb 02/14/13 - 02:18 pm
6
4
Budget

From the story:

“The last budget had over $1.5 trillion of mandatory and revenue savings, things like reductions in entitlements, closing loopholes,” Jason Furman, a deputy director of the National Economic Council, told reporters Wednesday.

The last budget — when was that? We learned that there has been no budget approved by Congress since 2008. I'm afraid that the budgeted "mandatory and revenue savings" never were realized.

Obama and his minions are using smoke and mirrors when they say their new spending initiatives will not cost anything. And the Associated Press will continue to carry their water with no critical analysis. The press is in the pocket.

billcass
1045
Points
billcass 02/14/13 - 03:56 pm
5
0
AP

Anybody who does not believe the AP (and the media in general) are in the tank for Obama should critically read this article. This is more cheerleading then objective journalism.

allhans
24885
Points
allhans 02/14/13 - 04:14 pm
6
0
How did we ever progress to

How did we ever progress to this phase in our lives without preschool.
What is wrong with doing it the right way, with paper and pencil. My mom taught me while cooking dinner, she sat me at the kitchen counter and we did fine. I could do numbers and letters long before first grade and it cost the taxpayers nothing. (I didn't have any of those brightly colored beads, though. Poor, poor me.)

billcass
1045
Points
billcass 02/14/13 - 04:24 pm
7
0
Allhans

You are obviously repressing the horrible memories of your childhood. Only the government can rescue you.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 02/14/13 - 04:58 pm
1
0
What a
Unpublished

bum!

allhans
24885
Points
allhans 02/14/13 - 08:31 pm
2
0
Yes. Yes!!!~

Yes. Yes!!!~

prov227
3468
Points
prov227 02/14/13 - 10:37 pm
4
0
One begets the other ...

The extremely high rate of births out of wedlock with absentee fathers (and mothers in some cases) results in high poverty that feeds on itself. So the answer is to ask taxpayers to institutionalize bad behavior by paying for institutional "parents" from birth. This sounds like vicious insanity all around. (See Walter Williams' columns.) What is lacking is a nurturing home with two parents from birth to first grade.

RoadKing
111
Points
RoadKing 02/15/13 - 12:08 am
3
1
Free government child care...

Don't ignore the 2 and 3 year olds .... please include them in this free government child care at taxpayer expense.

bumblebeerose
694
Points
bumblebeerose 02/15/13 - 03:01 am
7
1
I had to pay

My husband and I had to pay for day care for our child. It was not free!!!

Can someone please tell me why is that everyone wants something for free? My child is 7 years old and knows nothing in life is free. What has happened to us in this world.

I am going to tell you a story of what my child did the other day. Her father had given her $5.00 for the book fair at school and when she was going through the lunch line the ladies were about to give her a pink slip to let me know she needed lunch money, she took the $5.00 and gave it them for her lunch card. She told me what she had done when I asked her why she gave them the money and not brought me the pink slip she told me that her lunch card was more important than the book fair. Even she knows nothing is free.

We as a country are in some serious trouble.

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 02/15/13 - 05:11 am
6
0
Bumble You are so right. With

Bumble You are so right. With so many kids learning entitlement at a young age they grow up to become entitled adults. I love how this article says " poor" children. Many educated and hard working parents who don't quiet make the cut off to be classified "poor" have to use their own money for child care and reinforce learning when they get home after working all day. So what about the parents of these kids??? Just a few days ago after I got off from work I ran into the head start bus dropping off its load. One mom had on pajama bottoms on with another young one in tow. Then there was the young couple standing in wait obviously nether were at work at 3 in the afternoon. I wish I could pick my child up from his paid for half day preschool but sadly I have to work thank goodness he has such great grandparents. I am so sick of this administration using the "poverty" card and now stooping to show poor little kids who need an early boost in life. If the programs are not available to ALL children then why bother. Or require those getting it to show proof of a full time job because anything else is just babysitting on the tax payers dime. Please bleeding heart liberals don't start complaining about how "cruel" we are to want to deny children an early start. I don't have a problem with it as long as it is ALL children especially those of working parents!!!

bumblebeerose
694
Points
bumblebeerose 02/15/13 - 05:38 am
6
0
Scoobynews

You are so right the Headstart program is just babysitting for free. Like you I am not against it, but it should be for everyone or no one. I also think that if those on the system can not find a job then they should be made volunteer some where or do something to earn the money they are getting. I have to work and I work third shift so I have little family time what time I do have is spent on homework and getting my daughter ready for the next day and supper for her and my husband before I leave for work.

I was also brought up if you can work you do it.

seenitB4
97590
Points
seenitB4 02/15/13 - 07:05 am
2
0
Pre school a great thing?

Yes it probably does help the minds & maybe we do need some type program...BUT for all not just a select few.......we have thrown money at education now for many many years...how is that working folks.....the programs that really work actually take the child out of their home enviornment......tell me .....how can we do that for millions..

soapy_725
44121
Points
soapy_725 02/15/13 - 08:32 am
0
0
They have tiny telepromters in day care.
Unpublished

Hence the magnifying glass.

Jake
34083
Points
Jake 02/15/13 - 09:46 am
6
0
Picture

I like the picture with the magnifying glass. The little boy has his shirt tag sticking up, the little girl has colorful beads in her hair and Obama is searching the map to see who is going to pay for the program.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 02/15/13 - 09:58 am
3
0
“Still missing from Obama’s
Unpublished

“Still missing from Obama’s plan are any details about the cost,”
It is free don’t you know. None of the commie’s programs will “add one dine to the deficit”.

bentman
466
Points
bentman 02/15/13 - 11:26 am
2
0
Why stop there? Just turn

Why stop there? Just turn your kids over to the government as soon as they pop out of the oven. Life will be so much better when they've been turned into government minions (gag).

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 02/15/13 - 11:40 am
3
0
More government

More government indoctrination.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 02/15/13 - 11:42 am
2
0
"I will cut the national debt

"I will cut the national debt by one half, by the end of my first term."
Obama.

faithson
5527
Points
faithson 02/15/13 - 11:50 am
2
3
always worried about the cost...

what about the benefit... what, 1000 billion in expenditures for war and not 10 billion to put little children in school. Talk about a moral issue, anyone who does not see the elephant in the room is willfully blind.

ultrarnr
944
Points
ultrarnr 02/15/13 - 12:14 pm
0
0
Reality
Unpublished

Millions of parents don’t have the means, the skill or, in some cases, the interest in building their children’s future. Early childhood education is about building structures so both parents and children learn practical life skills. It’s about getting kids from disorganized homes into rooms with kids from organized homes so good habits will rub off. It’s about instilling achievement values where they are absent.

President Obama has taken on a big challenge in a realistic and ambitious way. If Republicans really believe in opportunity and local control, they will get on board.

KSL
143858
Points
KSL 02/15/13 - 12:29 pm
1
1
The benefit fades away in

The benefit fades away in most cases by the time they are in high school. The first study with these findings I was made aware was was in 1980 or so. And it is still true, maybe more so.

faithson
5527
Points
faithson 02/15/13 - 12:46 pm
2
0
this is not the silver bullet...

but it does offer a much better outcome for some of our poorest citizens, not all and I am sure we can all find studies to support our positions. Logic says there is a benefit in getting these young children into the learning stream as early as possible.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 02/15/13 - 12:49 pm
3
1
I'd like to see our president

I'd like to see our president in Washington addressing the most critical issues and needs of the day....not campaigning, not propagandising, not stirring up class warfare , not vacationing, not avoiding the problems he faces in Washington.

Focus on jobs, balancing a budget, the immigration issues , national security and military matters. Leave state business to the States!! This administration's got more than it can handle now, without sticking their noses where it doesn't belong.

faithson
5527
Points
faithson 02/15/13 - 01:18 pm
2
0
good point on state business Willow...

We are lucky here in GA where a movement is on to educate. A national effort to push some states may be in order.

d1zmljqg
997
Points
d1zmljqg 02/15/13 - 02:06 pm
0
0
To get an idea where Georgia stands in education

among the states visit http://www.thedailybeast.com/galleries/2011/01/21/america-s-smartest-kid...

The results were recorded two years ago, and I don't know if the rankings have changed significantly or not. If I understood correctly the results show the % of kids above grade level in math and reading for 4th and 8th graders.

scoobynews
3896
Points
scoobynews 02/15/13 - 02:08 pm
1
0
Our poorest citizens

already get more opportunities than any poor person in this world. I have seen extreme poverty in other countries that make the so-called poor here look like they live in mansions. Our problem is not with educating children but educated all children. Why fault my child because I earn a middle class income (if you can call it that anymore) yet read to him every night or encourage him in his learning?? He can't receive the same opportunites because his parent works but is far from wealthy? I have seen African families spend over half their yearly income to send their child to school doing without a lot of things yet we as tax payers should just provide the government with money not only for our kids but someone else's too??? We should NOT be spending federal dollars on something that is clearly up to the states to decide. Many counties are already limiting Pre-K as it is due to the economy so to fix it we are suppose to pour in federal dollars??? Where do you think this money is going to come from?? If poorer people would choose to have less children like those of us who have to work and pay for them do we may have less problems.

faithson
5527
Points
faithson 02/15/13 - 03:03 pm
1
0
'choose to have less'

and the state has no part in seeing to it that, that is exactly what happens. there are ethical ways.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 02/15/13 - 03:40 pm
1
0
Yes, stop the checks. Many

Yes, stop the checks. Many women/girls have babies and more babies to get the check. How they think they can raise them on that amount is way beyond my comprehension; and I guess the conclusion is, they don't - we do. So, stop the check.

chascushman
6653
Points
chascushman 02/15/13 - 04:15 pm
1
1
“.not campaigning, not
Unpublished

“.not campaigning, not propagandising, not stirring up class warfare , not vacationing, not avoiding the problems he faces in Washington.”
WB, that is all the community organizer knows how to do.

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