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Business Leaders Back Pre-K Programs in Letter to Obama, Congress

Four-year-olds are key to the future economy, and if they're not educated problems will arise, say the 300 business leaders from 44 states who signed an open letter to President Barack Obama and Congress as members of America's Promise Alliance, a coalition that aims to help lower high school dropout rates.

The letter, mailed late last week, cited the economic benefits of early-childhood education, workforce preparedness, and standing in the global marketplacey, a press release from the organization states.

The letter made specific recommendations: Prioritize research-based programs such as early-childhood education for children from birth to age 5, as well as home visiting and health care programs for such individuals;
• Focus on children from low- to moderate-income families and other children at greater risk for academic difficulties;
• Provide various options, including those in the private sector, to help children while encouraging federal and state programs with some flexibility on the delivery of such services; and
• Monitor children's progress.

"More and more business people are supporting the need for additional funding for early childhood. More states and the federal government need to do the same. Why? Because investing in early childhood achieves the best return on investment for our country," said James M. Zimmerman, retired CEO, Macy's, Inc., in a statement. "Currently more than 90 percent of our education dollars are spent after age 5, yet 85 percent of a child's core brain structure is developed before age 5."

The alliance aims to help raise the national high school graduation rate to 90 percent by 2020, with no school graduating less than 80 percent of its students on time.

The Alliance contend the way to do this is through effective education, better health,and aiding in the development of a more-caring community.

Business executives who signed the letter include Delta Airlines, McKinsey & Company, and PNC Financial Services Group, as well as state and local Chambers of Commerce and Business Roundtables.

More information about the group can be found at: www.readynation.org.

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