Owen Speaks on Brookings Panel on Obama’s Preschool Initiative

Jenni Owen, lecturer in public policy at the Sanford School and director of policy initiatives at the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy, offered suggestions for implementing the Obama administration’s preschool initiative during a panel discussion on May 29 in Washington, D.C.

The event, “The Obama Preschool Initiative:  A Conversation with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan,” featured remarks from Secretary Duncan, former Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, and Special Assistant to the President for Education Policy Roberto Rodriguez.

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama called for “a national priority to give every child access to a high-quality education.” In April, the administration's budget included $75 billion over 10 years for the “Preschool for All” plan, which would help states expand and improve their preschool programs.

Owen identified three key elements for successful implementation of the proposal: aligning the goals and objectives across early childhood education programs; strengthening workforce support to reflect the high value society places on early childhood education; and implementing the plan in a conscientious, long-term manner. 

On a day that marked the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hilary’s summiting of Mt. Everest, Owen reminded audience members that just like in mountaineering, “access, research, and careful implementation of what research says works” would be the best way to achieve President Obama's goal of providing high-quality preschool education to all.

Other members of the panel included Ron Haskins, co-director of the Brookings Center on Children and Families (moderator); W. Steven Barnett, director, National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University; Roberto Rodriguez, special assistant to the president for education policy; and Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst, director, Brown Center on Education Policy and senior fellow, Governance Studies.

The event was sponsored at the Brookings Institution by the Center on Children and Families and the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management.