Almost two weeks ago, President Obama laid out his desired goals for America in his State of the Union Address. As expected, there is disagreement, especially from Republicans, about almost every part of his agenda. It is truly unfortunate that we, as Americans, cannot put politics aside on issues, such as education, that matter most to the future of our great nation. The President argued that early childhood education should be part of our national education agenda because it helps prepare our students for their challenging futures. I would argue that such programs are apolitical. In other words, they are the right thing to do for reasons that have nothing to do with either economics and politics.
There has been much controversy about the academic value of early childhood education. For instance, some studies show that students who did not participate in such an education do not perform any worse academically, than their counterparts who did, by the time they reach the third grade. Obviously, their point is that there is no real bang for the buck. However, they miss the "real" point of early childhood learning. The evidence is very clear that the learning which takes place prior to a child's fifth birthday is crucial to her or his overall development. Why is it that education always has to provide a monetary value? Why can't we agree that our society would simply be better off if people were well educated and able to think for themselves.
Education has an intrinsic value the transcends money, jobs, and social status. A nation that has an educated populace is one that is less likely to experience poverty, discrimination, and social discord. It is very disheartening to hear, day in and day out, that everything in our federal government and state legislatures has to do with money. Our elected leaders certainly have an obligation to make sure that we are offered an opportunity to achieve a good standard of living; however, they are also entrusted with doing the right thing for its own sake. No one can possibly argue that providing education at an early age - especially for those children who rarely see a book - is the right thing to do. Our state legislature has a wonderful opportunity to put political agendas aside on an issue that affects our children. Do it!