Earlier this month in his State of the State address, Gov. Robert Bentley said, “I truly believe by allowing greater access to a voluntary pre-K education, we will change the lives of children in Alabama.”
In last week’s State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama said, “Every dollar we invest in high-quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on — by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime.”
A-ha. Let’s cheer a point of agreement between a Democratic president and a Republican governor. Even better, both are on solid ground here. A host of very good things will flow if the United States will make pre-K available to all 4-year-olds.
All this progress won’t come cheap. Bentley has proposed a 60 percent increase in spending on pre-K, an additional $12.5 million. Obama’s plan would provide matching federal money to states that get on board with top-notch education for 4-year-olds. Unfortunately, the president hasn’t attached dollar figures to his plan. It’s safe to say it will run into the billions of dollars.
Don’t get sticker shock. If done correctly with high standards and rigorous analysis of success, a universal pre-K program will pay big dividends for the United States.
“Bentley,” “Obama” and “agree” aren’t three words we see in the same sentence very often, at least not on matters of policy. However, both are on the right track with calls for expanding pre-K.