The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

November 15, 2013

Investing in our children shouldn’t be a partisan issue

ENID, Okla. — Decades ago, University of Oklahoma President George Lynn Cross famously built a university of which the football team could be proud.

Has our state of Oklahoma built a prekindergarten program of which the nation can be proud? The New York Times thinks so.

Before you turn the page from the East Coast media, hold on: Nationwide polling shows most in the GOP support early childhood initiatives.

“This isn’t a liberal issue,” Republican Skip Steele, a Tulsa City Council member, told the Times. “This is investing in our kids, in our future. It’s a no-brainer.”

Since 1998, our red state has offered universal prekindergarten access, and we have some of the nation’s highest participation rates. This helps young students both academically and socially.

Recently, the National Association of Elementary School Principals joined early childhood advocates, the White House and Congress on Capitol Hill to support of bipartisan legislation that would significantly expand investment in prekindergarten programs nationwide.

We recently had more promising news closer to home: Enid Public Schools is receiving a $100,000 grant to expand the school district’s 4-year-old program. The money will be used to renovate Carver Center into a nine-classroom facility for pre-kindergarten classes.

For Oklahoma’s initiative, the Times credits Tulsa billionaire George B. Kaiser for investing and advocating for early education in our state.

“Maybe the reason that rich, smart parents had rich, smart children wasn’t genetics,” Kaiser told Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof, “but that those rich, smart parents also held their kids, read to them, spent a lot of time with them.”

Investing in our children should not be a partisan issue. Ultimately, it’s our decision to educate or incarcerate.

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