Early childhood education is one of the best investments our country can make. Research shows that providing a high quality education for children before they turn five yields significant long-term benefits. NEA’s recommendations for quality early childhood education programs include:
- Free, publicly funded, quality kindergarten programs in all states.
- Mandatory full-day kindergarten. Just 14 states require school districts to offer full-day kindergarten.
- Optional free, publicly funded, quality "universal" pre-kindergarten programs for all three- and four-year-old children whose parents choose to enroll them. Three states are moving toward such a program - Georgia, New York and Oklahoma.
- Federal funds to make pre-kindergarten programs available for all three- and four-year-old children from disadvantaged families. State and local governments should provide the additional funds necessary to make pre-kindergarten available for all three- and four-year old children.
- Dedicated funding for early childhood education. Public schools should be the primary provider of pre-kindergarten programs, and additional funding must be allocated to finance them in the same manner as K-12 schools.