Top Athletes and Coaches and Business, Evangelical, Retired Military and Law Enforcement Leaders Echo Call for Quality Preschool Through ESEA

(Washington) Representatives of five organizations today urged strong support for a call to ensure that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides a pathway to high quality preschool for children nationwide. The organizations urged policymakers to recognize the bottom-line impacts of quality preschool experiences on academic achievement, safer communities, stronger families, military readiness and the development of social skills that support success in life.

The groups offered their support following a speech by U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan on the 50th anniversary of the introduction of ESEA. While the speech urged a wide array of reforms along the preK-12 continuum, it highlighted the point that “no family should be denied preschool for their children” and called on policymakers in Congress to continue their strong, bipartisan support for quality early childhood education.

Mission: Readiness, an organization of more than 500 retired admirals and generals, ( www.missionreadiness.org ) called attention to the impact of academic under-achievement as a leading reason why more than 70 percent of all young adults between the ages of 17 and 24 cannot qualify for military service. While being physically unfit and having a criminal record disqualify many for the armed services, more than 1 in 5 young adults who attempt to join the military cannot pass the entrance exam, which tests literacy, mathematics and critical thinking skills. Quality preschool will improve future military readiness by putting more young people on track for long-term academic success and the opportunity to serve their nation if that is the path they choose.

The business leader group ReadyNation ( www.readynation.org ) also cited the academic impact of early childhood education and its value for boosting the number of young adults who are prepared for postsecondary education and careers that will drive the economy forward. The group cited numerous studies at its web site demonstrating that investments in quality preschool provide immediate economic benefits to local communities as well as long-term benefits by strengthening the pool of well-educated future workers. Learn more at http://www.readynation.org/early-childhood/ .

Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, ( www.fightcrime.org ) an organization of 5,000 police chiefs, sheriffs and prosecutors emphasized the value of quality preschool experiences for building a foundation for academic success and reducing future drop-out rates and crime. That organization’s report, “I’m the Guy You Pay Later,” spotlighted long-term studies that followed children who participated in quality preschool programs in Illinois and Michigan and found they were far more likely to graduate from high school and far less likely to become involved in crime in later years. View the report at http://www.fightcrime.org/im-the-guy-campaign ).

Shepherding the Next Generation ( www.shepherdingthenextgeneration.org ), a national organization of evangelical and ministry leaders, highlighted the value of quality early education for helping at-risk children become better prepared for school and for supporting stronger families and communities The group cited findings from long-term studies that showed girls who participated in quality programs in Illinois and Michigan were more likely to be married and living with their husbands by the age of 27, and that boys who did not participate were far more likely to have children they did not raise and more likely to become involved in crime by the age of 27. Learn more at http://www.shepherdingthenextgeneration.org/our-work/what-we-work-on/voluntary-early-education .

Champions for America’s Future ( www.championsforamericasfuture.org ), an organization of top athletes and coaches, emphasized the value of quality preschool for building important social skills, such as the ability to be better listeners, control impulses and work with others as part of a group. Learn more at http://www.championsforamericasfuture.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/MI-CHAMPIONS-REPORT-1.pdf

Chris Beakey, 302-448-0253, cbeakey@councilforastrongamerica.org

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Mission: Readiness is the nonpartisan national security organization of more than 450 retired admirals and generals calling for smart investments in America’s children. It operates under the umbrella of the nonprofit Council for a Strong America.

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