Washington—AFT President Randi Weingarten's statement on President Obama's early childhood education proposals.
"Investing in early childhood education is among the best investments we can make in a young child's life. This one investment has the potential to boost graduation rates, ensure that children build a sound foundation in reading and math, reduce teen pregnancy and even reduce violent crime. It puts our children on a solid path for success both in school and in life.
"It's also one of the smartest and most strategic investments we can make—every $1 we spend on high-quality early childhood education saves more than $7 later on. It's a no-brainer: When you invest in early childhood education, you invest in our children, our economy and America's future.
"That's why the president's early childhood proposals represent a giant leap forward in guaranteeing every child and family in America access to affordable, high-quality early childhood education programs.
"President Obama's plan addresses both the quality of the programs and the quantity—ensuring we serve virtually all kids. It injects additional funding while also ensuring small classes, wraparound services, adequate compensation to treat early childhood educators like the professionals they are, and creation of a rich curriculum. The president is absolutely right to say we need to have high standards, a rigorous curriculum and evaluation systems—but we can't imagine that the president is calling for testing 4-year-olds. We hope others do not misinterpret his proposals. The early childhood programs the president highlighted in his State of the Union address—those in Oklahoma City and Washington, D.C.—are robust and age appropriate. And they certainly are not focused on testing.
"The AFT has long been a zealot for expanding access to high-quality early childhood education for every child in America. And while the devil is in the details, the AFT, and the 90,000 early childhood educators we represent, look forward to working with President Obama to ensure investments in high-quality public early childhood education programs."