Updated: View details of the Administration's early education plan here.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama highlighted the importance of investing in education. He called for universal, high-quality preschool for all children, announced a new Race to the Top-esque competition for high schools, and discussed budget concerns.
While he did not provide details on these new priorities, the president stated his support for all young children to gain access to early education programs, citing the long-term benefits of preschool on student achievement. He also mentioned a proposal to provide states incentives to offer full-day kindergarten.
NAESP has long supported creating a continuum of seamless learning for children from high-quality pre-K settings through grade three, a linkage proven to improve student success, reduce dropout rates, and increase college attendance.
“Principals embrace the precept that whole-child development and high quality early learning experiences in the prekindergarten years forms the bedrock of learning in the primary grades,” said NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly.
Further, NAESP is working to strengthen federal policy to provide much-needed professional development for elementary principals specifically related to early childhood education, to help them understand and learn how to provide this seamless continuum of learning.
High School and Higher Education
Besides discussing early education, President Obama also commented on high school and higher education. He urged high schools to take on rigorous curricula in science, technology, engineering and math, and create partnerships between schools, businesses, and universities through a new competitive grant program.
President Obama also addressed college cost reduction efforts and called on Congress to update the Higher Education Act so institutions providing an affordable, high-value education are rewarded with federal financial aid. The College Scorecard, released today, provides a way for families to compare college costs, graduations rates, and average amount a student borrows to finance their education.
While the Higher Education Act is one of several education bills overdue for reauthorization, NAESP believes reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act should be a top priority for the President, as it is extremely outdated and creates a piecemeal education system that is not a 50-state solution.
Finally, it is NAESP’s hope that the president and Congress work together to reduce the impact of scheduled budget cuts on education investments, set to hit March 1. All parties agree that sequestration is not an appropriate path to deficit reduction.
With one in four American children currently living in poverty, a solution must be reached to avoid the largest ever cuts to education investments. A robust education system is a critical investment to improve the health of our economy and global competitiveness.