Former Sen. Bill Frist has written an editorial for the Huffington Post with former Sen. Chris Dodd in support of universal pre-K for kids.
There is little debate that education is key to a child's future success, or that it is key to our global competitiveness as a nation. But one of the most overlooked ways to improving educational opportunities in America is reaching kids early enough.
Two out five children in America have had no preschool or kindergarten education by age 5. When these children do enter school, many are already behind their peers.
As science has clearly shown in recent years, most brain development is complete well before a child enters kindergarten. Without early learning opportunities, many children are entering school without the tools they need to stay on track and succeed.
Unfortunately, poor children in America are most likely to lose these critical opportunities. As a result, children from low-income families can easily fall 18 months developmentally behind children from middle-class families by the time they're just 4 years old.
But in Tennessee, expanding pre-K beyond the current program — which targets at-risk 4-year-olds — to include everyone is not in the works. Gov. Bill Haslam said he is waiting on the results of a Vanderbilt study before he would support expansion. Speaker Beth Harwell supports the current program, but members of her caucus, including Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville) have been vocal about taking that money and spending it elsewhere.