Seventy percent of respondents in a recent poll said that the country should be doing more to ensure that children start kindergarten with the skills that they need to succeed, and the same percentage say they "somewhat" or "strongly" support an Obama administration-backed proposal to expand state preschool through a cigarette tax.
The survey, whose full results are below (including the wording of the questions) was commissioned by the First Five Years Fund, as part of the organization's continuing efforts to drum up support for the administration's $75 billion proposal to expand state preschool, Head Start, home visiting, and other early-learning programs.
The poll, which surveyed 800 registered voters by cellphone and land line between July 8-11, found that support for early education also cut across party lines: 60 percent of Republicans, 64 percent of independents, and 84 percent of Democrats offered support for the proposal. The poll has a margin of error of 3.5 percent.
Kris Perry, the executive director of the First Five Years Fund, said that the survey respondents also indicated a sense of urgency: about two-thirds of those polled said they preferred Congress to take action on this matter now, and 86 percent said that it was "extremely" or "very" important to ensure "children get a strong start in life so they will perform better in school and succeed in their careers."
Of course, while Republican survey respondents may have positive feelings toward a federal investment in preschool, Republican lawmakers have had demonstrated little support for the plan at the moment—and Congress is poised to take a five-week summer break and has backlog of proposals to take up once it return in September.
But Congress is not the only group that should take note of the findings, Perry said. Superintendents and state and local lawmakers should all be a part of the discussion, she said. "We really want it to ripple out in many layers," she said.
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