Friday, September 7

Marc Lee: Why we need to expand early learning programs

In a Vancouver Sun feature article, UBC’s Hillel Goelman reviews evidence on early childhood education and makes the case for universal pre-kindergarten for three- and four-year-olds. Dollar for dollar this is probably the best investment would could make as a society. But progress has been slow, as it has been framed as a family issue by both sides.

The educational component is critical, and this means talking about such programs as “early learning” and “pre-school” rather than term “child care”, which conotates babysitting. I keep trying to hammer this point with child care activists, who have by and large tried to frame this issue as enabling women’s labour market participation (which riles up the stay-at-home moms).

Women’s equality is a benefit of immense magnitude, but like K-12, it is a rider on the education component, which is where we make the pitch to the general public. And by explicitly talking about education, we raise the bar in terms of quality standards automatically. But there is such a deep attachment to framing this as “child care”, to which my response is something like “get used to losing”.

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