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Pre-K Expansion, Early Education Focus Of White House Summit

The White House holds a summit on expanding early education.

If you want an idea of how out of sync Congress is with what’s happening outside the Beltway, Education Secretary Arne Duncan suggests early childhood education is a good place to look.

Across the country, Republican and Democratic governors are embracing the need to invest in early education, Duncan said. Thirty-six states applied 18 grants totaling $226 million to improve and expand high quality pre-school programs in high need communities. The states that won were red and blue.

“In the real world this has become a total bipartisan issue, we just wish and we need for folks here in Washington and Congress to pay attention to what’s happening back home and in the real world,” Duncan said.

Early education proponents from across professions and disciplines are gathering Wednesday for a White House summit on early education. The administration and attendees planned to announce several related initiatives and funding such as up to $500 million for more Head Start partnerships, guaranteed preschool through federal-state partnerships and extending evidence-based, voluntary home visiting programs such as the Nurse Family Partnership, which provides training and assistance to young mothers.

According to the National Council Of La Raza, which supports early education initiatives, Latino children make up about a quarter of the nation's schoolchildren, yet only about half of them are in a center-based early education program. English-proficient Latino children are about three months behind white children in pre-reading skills and five months behind in math skills.

The summit is announcing the launch of public-private partnerships such as "Invest In U.S." At the summit, PVH Corp. Chairman and CEO Emanuel “Manny” Chirico planned to announced the commitment of $5 million over several years to Save the Children’s early education program. PVH is an American clothing company that owns Tommy Hilfiger, Calvin Klein and other brands.


--Suzanne Gamboa