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Early Childhood

Report: GOP Platform Rejects Publicly Funded Pre-K as Government Intrusion

By Christina A. Samuels — July 13, 2016 2 min read
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Cross-posted from the Early Years blog

The Republican Party’s platform committee has added language that opposes public prekindergarten, in preparation for the upcoming GOP convention in Cleveland, The Dallas Morning News is reporting.

One of the 112 members of the committee said the party’s opposition comes because pre-K “inserts the state in the family relationship in the very early stages of a child’s life.”

The committee language would have to be approved by the full convention when it meets July 18-21. Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, has not addressed early-childhood education on his campaign website or on Twitter, one of his primary methods for sharing his views. Hillary Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has said she supports expanding Early Head Start-Child Care partnerships, and that she would provide federal money to help states increase enrollment in high-quality preschool.

The Republican Party platform adopted in 2012 did not mention early-childhood education, other than a brief reference to supporting children in pre-literacy skills so that they are not later referred for special education services.

In rejecting government-funded prekindergarten, the platform committee finds itself in opposition to many Trump supporters, according to a poll released Tuesday from the First Five Years Fund, an advocacy group that supports early-learning programs. That poll, which was conducted in May, found that 78 percent of Trump supporters and 97 percent of Clinton supporters “believe that Congress and the president should work together to expand access to early-childhood education.”

Support is more split when it comes to making specific policy investments in early-childhood education, however. When asked about a hypothetical federal program that would disburse $10 billion a year over 10 years to states for early-childhood programs such as preschool and home visiting, the poll found that 54 percent of Republicans, 70 percent of independents and 91 percent of Democrats say they would support such a program.

Save the Children Action Network, another advocacy organization that supports greater investments in education, said in a press release that the draft platform is “deeply disappointing.”

“While we all agree that parents have the ultimate responsibility to raise their children, high-quality early-childhood education programs assist families so all children have an equal opportunity to succeed,” said Mark Shriver, the organization’s president.

File Photo: Students in Maciel Martinez’s class read before nap time at the Pre-K Center at Bishop Ford in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 2015. New York’s expanded public program has tripled the number of prekindergarten seats in two years.—Mark Abramson for Education Week.

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