The Time To Press The Case For Pre-K Is Now

Too often, when it comes to determining whether a new public program is too expensive or not, no one asks, “Compared to what?”

What high-performing business, for instance, would forego the need to invest new capital in something that is vital to its profitability and success down the road? The immediate costs of investing in something vital now, when compared to the significant long-term costs of inaction or inadequate measures, make the decision a no-brainer.

That’s probably why business leaders recently wrote an open letter to President Obama and members of Congress urging them to invest in providing American children universal access to preschool education.

As reported by Think Progress, the letter – signed by representative from huge corporations and from local Chambers of Commerce and business roundtables – emphasized “the importance of early childhood education in developing a skilled workforce and creating economic growth.”

From a business standpoint, investing more in early childhood education now is indeed a “no-brainer,” as Salon’s Joan Walsh wrote earlier this year. Spending money on early childhood education has the backing of military leaders, law enforcement groups, and the financial community.

The overarching argument for government funding of early childhood education is that “we pay now or pay much more later.”

However, making a case for universal pre-K based on economics alone is not what’s going to ultimately push the president’s initiative through. After all, if rational economics were a driving force in our political system, we wouldn’t still be talking about sequestration.

What’s going to have to happen is for pre-K proponents to make their case based on the politics. Fortunately, the politics of pre-K are starting to look better, and the timing for a concerted push for pre-K might be just about right.

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