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Expanding preschool is a no-brainer

President Obama’s plan for universal preschool is as ambitious and crucial as his healthcare reform commitment, maybe more so. Citing research showing that investing a dollar in preschool saves $7 in the course of a child’s life, by improving their chances at finishing high school, avoiding early parenthood or prison, going to college and/or getting and holding a job, the president declared Tuesday night: "Let’s do what works, and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let’s give our kids that chance."

On Thursday he unveiled a plan to partner with states to make universal preschool available to every four year old, and to expand programs for younger children from very low-income families via Early Head Start and other programs. “Fewer than 3 in 10 four year olds are enrolled in a high quality preschool program,” Obama declared after visiting one in Decatur, Ga. “The earlier a child starts learning, the better he or she does down the road. We are not doing enough to give all the kids that chance.”

Obama’s new crusade demands the question: If preschool is such a great value, why haven’t we made it a priority before?

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