Broadening focus beyond the K-12 public education system to include a child’s earliest years offers a key to improving educational outcomes, says a new Bipartisan Policy Center report.
A Nation Still At Risk, released today, finds that 36 years after President Ronald Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education declared that the education system was falling short and the nation was “at risk” of falling behind international peers, little has changed. Despite many efforts to reform the system, the United States is still delivering less-than-stellar educational results.
The report notes that young Americans do not have equal opportunity to develop their full potential starting at birth, not only because of risk factors such as poverty and racial disparities, but also because the nation lacks a comprehensive early care and learning system. Emphasizing the creation of such a system provides a path toward improving educational outcomes, leveling inequalities, and keeping more parents in the workforce.
“High-quality child care is simply out of reach for many working families, but because children are learning starting at birth, access to that high-quality care can have a dramatic impact on educational outcomes later in life,” said Linda K. Smith, director of BPC’s Early Childhood Initiative. “We have to recognize that children who enter kindergarten behind their peers tend to stay behind. If we want to stay competitive internationally and improve education, we need a robust early childhood strategy.”
Linda K. Smith is available for interviews.