Hillary Clinton Pushes Early Childhood Education Reform
Posted By Marisa Sanfilippo on October 19, 2016 at 3:37 pm
To our readers: Today, GoodCall looks at the leading 2016 presidential candidates and their education proposals. Earlier, we studied Donald Trump’s higher education proposal. Now, we look at Hillary Clinton’s early childhood education reform. Additional note: We’ve updated this article following last night’s debates.
Much of the discussion on education during the 2016 presidential race has come from the Democratic side, though Republican Donald Trump finally unveiled his ideas last week on higher education. And most of what’s been said has been focused on higher education— maybe even at the expense of early childhood education.
That’s easy to understand. The cost of attending college and student loan debt incurred while there are hot-button items for many college-age students who will be eligible to vote for the first time in this election. The cost issue also is of utmost concern to parents – the people likely providing the payments to cover tuition.
Early education funding, meanwhile, often is overlooked due to the length of time it takes for the benefits to be realized. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has offered a case to make early education a priority of her administration.
Benefits of early childhood education
One reason the focus of education centers on college is the need for more specialized skills in science and technology. However, the process of obtaining skills does not begin when one enters a university. It begins when children are still quite young.
Sandra De Hoffman, facilitator at Children’s Concierge, says, “No child is too young for exploring or benefiting from a learning environment. In fact, we think it’s imperative that learning opportunities be presented in a child’s early years of life – even from birth. Young children are so interested in the world around them, so curious and so capable of being informed by what they see, hear, and experience.”
The findings of the Perry Preschool Study, which examined the short and long-term effects of exceptional preschool education for children between the years of 1962 and 1967, further substantiate this assessment. During that study, researchers monitored the lives of child subjects for the next four decades. Children in the exceptional preschool program significantly outperformed children who were not in the following categories:
- In the number of students who completed high school.
- On assessment tests.
- General attitudes toward the field of education.
- Lifelong earnings.
- Lower instances of criminal behavior.
At least in part, the long-term success of these students must be attributed to the early educational intervention they received. As Julia Simens, author of Emotional Resilience and the Expat Child, points out, “Waiting until the child is older causes you to have to work with them to unlearn what they are doing wrong and correct it.” If children are taught the correct methods early on, they will be able to more successfully integrate new lessons and not spend their time working to catch up instead of working toward new gains.
Clinton’s initiative on early childhood education
Clinton has championed early education intervention. When she was first lady of Arkansas she began a program to help parents educate children at home before they began kindergarten. As senator of New York, she pushed for a national initiative to provide pre-K programs.
Her presidential platform has six specific goals related to early childhood education.
- Universal preschool for every 4-year-old in America.
- A substantial investment in child care that ensures no family pays more than 10 percent of its income to high-quality childcare.
- A push for increased incomes for those who work in early childhood care and education to encourage a talented and effective workforce pool.
- A doubling of the national investment in Early Head Start and related programs to provide more assistance to economically disadvantaged children.
- An increase of financial and political support for evidenced based programs that provide in-home training and resources to pregnant women to give each child the best start possible.
- Greater availability and affordability of early childhood care on college campuses to limit the financial burden for student parents and increase the potential of their children going forward.
Further cost analysis of the return on investment for early childhood education from the Perry School Study shows the greatest gains are made when money is invested at this point. Additional studies support this. The United Nations Children’s Fund has noted the importance of early childhood education and care and the implications both have for the positive outcome of the child. Research also recognizes that the quality and availability of care and education is dismally low, especially in low-income households.
During the debates last night, she repeated her feelings about early education: “I feel strongly that we have to have an education system that starts with preschool and goes through college. That’s why I want more technical education in high schools and in community colleges, real apprenticeships to prepare young people for the jobs of the future.”
An overwhelming amount of evidence points to the fundamental necessity of early education and yet it remains a minor talking point in the 2016 election. Republican Donald Trump’s proposals on early childhood focus on daycare, though there is a plan for Earned Income Tax Credit dollars to be placed into a savings account to be used for “child enrichment activities including private school tuition.” During the debate last night, when he spoke about education, it was about college.
Certainly, Clinton’s proposal hasn’t been met with universal approval, the fact that there has been little discussion of early childhood education is puzzling.