Advocates for early childhood education are understandably excited about their prospects under President-elect Barack Obama’s administration. During the campaign, Mr. Obama pledged to increase federal early education spending by $10 billion annually.
Currently, the two largest federal early childhood programs, Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant, spend about $12 billion annually combined. A $10 billion increase would almost double that investment.
Just as remarkably, Mr. Obama deliberately singled out early education as an important investment he would prioritize even in tight economic times. Add in a potentially $1 trillion economic stimulus package that’s raising the prospects for even previously inconceivable public investments, and advocates are downright giddy.
It seems terribly Grinch-like to throw cold water on these hopes. But in fact this is a dangerous moment for both Mr. Obama and the early education movement.