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Military says we have a 70% problem and need to solve it first things first.
It sounds like the start of a bad joke, but the universal pre-k movement continues to get a boost from an unlikely ally: decorated military officers. The advisory council for Mission: Readiness, a coalition of military leaders who are meeting with Congress about children's issues, reads like a V.I.P. list of generals, admirals, and other people you wouldn't want to challenge to a game of Civilization. What do they want? Preschool for all U.S. children. When do they want it? Now.
Although their current push to legislators is childhood nutrition, the mission statement of Mission: Readiness reads like a early education champion's dream: “Not only does quality early childhood education increase graduation rates, it also cuts crime, saves lives, and saves money. Research shows that kids who don’t get it are 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime by age 18, making them potentially unfit for service and a threat to their communities.”
Two Former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – the highest position in the U.S. military – leading an push for preschool? A former Secretary of the Navy? These aren't the folks you usually see making the case for universal pre-k. They aren't using the typical arguments, either. Rather than focusing on gains in IQ points or grades (which continue to be up for debate) these generals are arguing that pre-k cuts crime and saves money over time, equipping today's 3- and 4-year-olds for eventual careers in the military. Today's enlistees, they say, aren't educated or physically fit enough to serve - and solving the problem means starting early.
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