Possible Impacts of Pres. Obama's Preschool Proposal

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

HARRISONBURG -- President Barack Obama said he wants to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America in his State of the Union Address. President Obama said all kids should be able to go to preschool despite whether their family can afford it or not. This could have an impact on early education here in the Valley.

Sandra Kelley has two grandchildren in preschool and she was also a preschool teacher for 18 years. She knows from experience how important it is for kids to have the opportunity to go to preschool. Kelley said that's where children can learn the basics before attending kindergarten.

"They learn to write, they learn to get along with each other. As you see out here, they're just running and playing and getting along and even learning to be team players," Kelley said.

While many parents said it's good to send their kids to preschool in order to learn how to play and socialize, Miranda Kirby said it shouldn't be required.

"Just want to have the choice. We need the flexibility. We need to have the ability to have them in one morning a week, two mornings a week, something like that. I don't think it should be required by everyone five days a week," said Kirby.

President Obama's plan isn't completely determined yet. So far, he doesn't say preschool would be required for all kids, but he does want all kids to be able to attend if that's what their parents want. His plan would create a free preschool program for low-income families.

The plan would have a hefty price and some potentially big changes to early education that Kelley can already predict.

"You'll have to have more teachers, you'll have to have more funds, you'll have to have more classrooms. I mean you've got a lot to look at," Kelley said.

She said parents should have the choice to send their kids to preschool, but overall, it's not necessary for everyone. Pres. Obama said it would close the achievement gap between poor children and their wealthier peers.

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