Obama pushes preschool programs as sequestration looms

The government would fund public preschool for any 4-year-old whose family income is 200 percent or less of the federal poverty level, according to Obama’s new proposal.

President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan to expand preschool programs comes as one out of every 13 students already in Head Start classrooms is at risk of being kicked out if lawmakers don’t sidestep a budget meltdown.

Obama was set to talk about enlarging early childhood education programs such as Head Start during a stop Feb. 14 in Georgia. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, meanwhile, was set to tell senators on Capitol Hill that the pending budget cuts could be devastating to current students.

Obama’s team is warning Congress—and lawmakers’ constituents—what is expected to happen if leaders fail to avert $85 billion in automatic budget cuts set to begin March 1. With the cuts looming, the administration has increased its pressure on lawmakers, and Obama’s State of the Union address Feb. 12 made clear he was not looking for compromise as he began his second term.

“I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America,” Obama told Congress and a national television audience.

The White House fleshed out Obama’s plan Feb. 14, proposing a “continuum of high-quality early learning for a child, beginning at birth and continuing to age 5.”

(Next page: Details of Obama’s preschool plan)

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