EdMedia Commons Archive

Support for Early Childhood Education, with a Catch

In an era of gridlock, in a town full of standoffs, a poll was released Wednesday that showed overwhelming bipartisan public support for one cause: boosting early childhood education.

According to the poll released by the Grow America Stronger campaign, led by the First Five Years Fund,  70 percent of voters supported levying a 94-cent tax on packs of cigarettes to finance early childhood education programs for children from birth to age five. The poll debuted at a joint U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Center for American Progress conference on early childhood education on July 31.

The program and tax gained even more support when the pollsters told the voters that the proposal would not add to the federal deficit. And they ranked making sure children get a good start in life as the second-highest priority, just behind increasing jobs and ahead of reducing tax burdens on families and securing borders.

The catch: The Republican and Democratic pollsters – Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research – did not tell voters that President Obama proposed the program.

Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund, hopes that constituents express their support to congressional officials when they return to their home districts over the August recess.

Business support for early childhood education was pervasive at the Wednesday meeting. Brian Maher, former New Jersey Chamber of Commerce president and retired chairman and CEO of Maher Terminals, made a wry observation as he presented the poll results to the participants. He joked that if anyone had told him 10 years ago he would become a strong proponent of early childhood education, he would have suggested that person was on drugs.

But now? “There’s broad national and bipartisan support for early childhood education. What are we waiting for?”

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.