President Obama is pushing a plan to provide universal access to pre-Kindergarten programs, saying it's an investment that would improve graduation rates, prevent violence, and reduce teen pregnancy.
He touted the idea in his State of the Union address on Tuesday and again at a visit Thursday to a preschool classroom in Decatur, Ga., to highlight a program in a Repbulican state seeking to provide universal pre-K.
"The size of your paycheck shouldn't determine your child's future," Obama said. "So let's fix this. Let's make sure none of our kids start out the race of life a step behind."
The plan would provide federal matching dollars to states with the goal of providing preschool for every 4-year-old from moderate- or low-income families. It would also expand the Early Head Start program to offer additional childcare and learning programs for toddlers, according to a White House fact sheet. The White House has not yet released cost estimates for the new preschool plan.
The program could face opposition in Congress as lawmakers are debating how to reduce the deficit and avoid looming spending cuts to existing domestic programs. Also, some policymakers have questioned the effectiveness of state-level programs. In Georgia, only six out of ten eligible students are enrolled in the program, and the high school graduation rate ranks in the bottom quartile, The Hill reports.