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Advice for Duncan

The Early Education Advocate

President-elect Barack Obama with Arne Duncan, the nominee for secretary of education, who has been widely praised for his work as chief executive of the more-than-400,000-student Chicago school system, the nation's third-largest.
President-elect Barack Obama with Arne Duncan, the nominee for secretary of education, who has been widely praised for his work as chief executive of the more-than-400,000-student Chicago school system, the nation's third-largest. (Pool Photo By Ralf-finn Hestoft)
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Monday, January 12, 2009; 12:00 AM

Chicago public schools chief Arne Duncan goes before a Senate committee on Tuesday for a confirmation hearing. To help him set priorities, Post reporter Valerie Strauss asked folks in the education world to provide their best advice on key issues. Here is a response from Libby Doggett, deputy director, Pew Center on the States; executive director, Pre-K Now.

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No education reform has demonstrated a more powerful effect on school success than high-quality pre-kindergarten. Study after study proves that quality early education programs provide a return on investment that few other government expenditures can match. Accordingly, w e hope that Mr. Duncan will:

1. Take ownership from day one of the President-elect's commitments to enable every child to attend high-quality pre-kindergarten. That means transforming our public education system from a k-12 to a pre-k-12 system. Working in partnership with the President-elect and HHS Secretary-designee Tom Daschle, Mr. Duncan should ensure that our principal education law, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act ("No Child Left Behind"), includes pre-k, reflecting what we now know about the importance of the early learning years.

2. Ensure that new job creation strategies in the economic recovery plan include a focus on investing in the early education workforce and in quality education facilities that help families prepare children to enter school ready to learn and thrive.

3. Use his experience as an innovative leader and consensus-builder to eliminate the turf battles that have hampered effective federal leadership in early education. To this end, we urge Mr. Duncan to support the establishment of an early education office within the White House. Placing an experienced leader in that position will help realize the campaign's vision of an effective early education system, with thriving partnerships across government agencies and among federal, state and local leaders.


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