Biden’s push for universal pre-k: How vital is early childhood education?

Classroom Progress Report

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — President Biden is set to address a joint session of Congress on Wednesday evening for his first address. There, he plans to announce his plan on a spending package. The proposal includes a $200 million reinvestment into education with funding toward Universal pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds.

This plan would be a partnership between the federal government and each individual state to provide high-quality preschool.

Jaime Puccioni, University of Albany Associate Professor and early childhood education researcher, said the data to support the educational, emotional, and even financial impacts for universal pre-K is supported.

According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, the benefits of high-quality pre-k have been “well-documented” throughout 50 years of research. “Students need to interact with their learning. They need to learn how to learn,” Traci Johson, Principal of All Saints Catholic Academy said.

“When you can start that process in that three and four-year-old program, developmentally when they are ready, using the activities that are meant for their age and development, you will have that success.”

Currently, New York State requires attendance for children starting at age six or 1st grade. Although not required, New York has made several grant funding efforts to expand early childhood education that districts can apply for before the school year begins.

“They can be lottery systems. Some districts don’t even offer it because of the space needed,” Johnson said. “So, those programs for that free and appropriate are a little more select for a district that is fully participating.”

Puccioni said it’s simply not enough, and that children from low-income backgrounds, learning English as a new language, and children of color need greater access to high-quality pre-k.

“These differences at the start of kindergarten can further exacerbate differences in the educational outcomes for children,” Puccioni said.

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