Obama Pledge Stirs Hope in Early Education

Publication: The New York Times

Author: Sam Dillon

12/16/2008 - It was the morning after the presidential election, and Matthew Melmed, executive director of Zero to Three, a national organization devoted to early childhood education, could barely contain his exultation.

Mr. Melmed fired off an e-mail message to his board and staff, reminding them of President-elect Barack Obama’s interest in the care and education of the very young and congratulating Mr. Obama for campaigning on a “comprehensive platform for early childhood.”

Now that new initiatives seem likely, experts are debating how best to improve America’s early childhood system, which they call fantastically fragmented, unconscionably underfinanced and bureaucratically bewildering. Some hesitate to use the word “system” at all.

“It’s a patchwork quilt, a tossed salad, a nonsystem,” said Libby Doggett, executive director of Pre-K Now, a group that presses for universal, publicly financed prekindergarten.

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