Clinton Pre-K Proposal Targets Gap Created by Parents’ Education

Children are much more likely to attend a pre-K program if their parents are well-educated.

Former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attends a roundtable discussion held by Univision between parents of elementary school children and politicians regarding language learning and preschool on February 4, 2014 in New York City.
National Journal
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Janie Boschma
June 16, 2015, 12:19 p.m.

Hil­lary Clin­ton on Monday an­nounced a pro­pos­al that would give every 4-year-old child ac­cess to a high-qual­ity preschool pro­gram with­in 10 years. Clin­ton’s pro­pos­al builds on Pres­id­ent Obama’s Preschool for All pro­gram, which wasn’t in­cluded in Con­gress’s an­nu­al budget.

Cur­rently, 44 states provide pub­licly fun­ded pre-K pro­grams, up from 40 a year ago. Clin­ton’s plan would provide states with ad­di­tion­al fed­er­al fund­ing to ex­pand those pro­grams, in the hopes that it gives “chil­dren a hand up to­wards high­er achieve­ment in their edu­ca­tion and bet­ter pro­spects for lifelong eco­nom­ic op­por­tun­ity,” ac­cord­ing to a cam­paign press re­lease.

Today, 68 per­cent of 4-year-olds are en­rolled in some sort of pre-primary pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to data from the Na­tion­al Cen­ter for Edu­ca­tion Stat­ist­ics. But NCES data shows a class di­vide among chil­dren’s ac­cess to pre-primary edu­ca­tion. En­roll­ment in either a preschool or kinder­garten pro­gram for 3- to 5-year-olds in­creases con­versely with par­ents’ edu­ca­tion level.

Just over half of chil­dren whose par­ents didn’t gradu­ate high school are en­rolled in a pre-primary pro­gram. The share of chil­dren en­rolling in­creases stead­ily with each tier of par­ents’ highest level of edu­ca­tion. That in­creases to 64 per­cent for chil­dren born to par­ents with an as­so­ci­ate’s de­gree, 70 per­cent for those with col­lege-edu­cated par­ents, and 75 per­cent for kids whose par­ents have a gradu­ate or pro­fes­sion­al de­gree.

Clin­ton’s pro­pos­al stands to provide the biggest boost to Latino chil­dren ages 3 to 5, 57 per­cent of whom en­roll in a pre-primary pro­gram, ac­cord­ing to 2013 NCES data. By com­par­is­on, at least 64 per­cent of their White, Black, and Asi­an peers en­rolled.

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