President Barack Obama has found a way to cater to his obsession with pre-K programs while the rest of his education agenda stalls: Skip Congress and spend the money anyway.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in discretionary funding for early learning are funneling into states although Congress hasn’t seriously considered paying for President Barack Obama’s universal preschool proposal. Race to the Top early learning awards and Affordable Care Act money are helping states carry out their pre-K and early childcare plans. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is traveling the country to deliver what amounts to an early childhood stump speech, and the administration just hired a new leader for its Office of Early Learning. Congress likely won’t fund Obama’s $75 billion universal pre-K plan in the near future. Doubling the federal tobacco tax and new spending prove unpopular, even absurd options for some members of Congress. Coupled with dwindling hopes of coming to a fiscal consensus before September 30, the administration can likely expect no help on funding any time soon.