Skip to Content

Early Childhood Education



Power to the Profession


NEA working to Unify the Early Childhood Profession

Power to the Profession(P2P) is a two-year initiative to define the professional field of practice that unifies early childhood educators across all states and settings to enrich the lives of children and families. Power to the Profession gives early educators an opportunity to contribute to a comprehensive set of the guidelines that advance their livelihoods and improve their lives. NEA is among 15 national organizations that represents and engages large groups of early childhood professionals working with children from birth through third grade. They make up the core task force, along with over 25 national organizations with systems-level influence in the early childhood profession that comprise the stakeholder group. (See the list of the participating organizationshere.)

The task force will meet and develop draft recommendations on the core components of a unified early childhood profession in a series of Decision Cycles, which then be shared with the public for feedback. The task force will revise the drafts to reflect feedback from the public and will finalize the components by consensus vote. The core components to be considered are:

NEA will continue to post P2P updates, drafts, and surveys. NEA members can also sign up here to receive updates that include opportunities to be a part of the conversation.



Research and Recommendations


Early childhood education: one of the best investments our country can make. 


Long-Term Benefits of Early Childhood Education

Research shows that providing a high quality education for children before they turn five yields significant long-term benefits.

One well-known study, the HighScope Perry Preschool Study, found that individuals who were enrolled in a quality preschool program ultimately earned up to $2,000 more per month than those who were not. Young people who were in preschool programs are more likely to graduate from high school, to own homes, and have longer marriages.

Other studies, like The Abecedarian Project, show similar results. Children in quality preschool programs are less likely to repeat grades, need special education, or get into future trouble with the law.

Early childhood education makes good economic sense, as well. In Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return, a high-ranking Federal Reserve Bank official pegs its return on investment at 12 percent, after inflation.

NEA Is Committed to Improving Early Childhood Education

High quality early childhood education represents one of the best investments our country can make. NEA believes it's a common sense investment we can't afford to pass up. NEA recommends, among other things:

  • Free, publicly funded, quality kindergarten programs in all states.
  • Mandatory full-day kindergarten. Just 14 states require school districts to offer full-day kindergarten. 
  • Optional free, publicly funded, quality "universal" pre-kindergarten programs for all three- and four-year-old children whose parents choose to enroll them. Three states are moving toward such a program - Georgia, New York and Oklahoma.
  • Federal funds to make pre-kindergarten programs available for all three- and four-year-old children from disadvantaged families. State and local governments should provide the additional funds necessary to make pre-kindergarten available for all three- and four-year old children.
  • Dedicated funding for early childhood education. Public schools should be the primary provider of pre-kindergarten programs, and additional funding must be allocated to finance them in the same manner as K-12 schools.

RELATED ITEMS


NEA POLICY BRIEFS