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White House Warns of Cuts to Preschool Grants in Republican Budget Proposals

Were the current Republican budget proposals to become law, warned U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, current Preschool Development Grants could end up being zeroed out.

"Budgets are never just numbers on a piece of paper," Duncan said Monday. "They reflect our values."

And the Republicans in Congress do not, by Duncan's assessment, properly value early-childhood education quite as well as the president does.

"The 18 states that are now operating Preschool Development Grant-funded programs may lose a significant portion of the more than $640 million that has been pledged in state and local funding and public-private partnerships," according to a statement released by the White House on Monday. An accompanying fact sheet calculates that such a loss would mean 102,267 fewer children receiving grant-supported state preschool services over the next two years.

The president's proposed budget, on the other hand, would provide $750 million for the grant program in FY 2016 and $1.5 billion for Head Start.

"It may be Groundhog Day, but the American people can't afford a repeat of the same old top-down policies of the past," House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told Politico in February when the president's budget was first released.

The budget Boehner's party put forward has been equally reviled by the Democrats.

"Unfortunately, what we're seeing right now is a failure to invest in education, infrastructure, research, and national defense. All the things that we need to grow, need to create jobs, to stay at the forefront of innovation and to keep our country safe," Obama told reporters at the White House in March, according to Politico.

Besides which, it is a pointless enterprise to try and pass a budget with no Democratic support, said Shaun Donovan, director of the Office of Management and Budget.

"Party line bills cannot pass in the end," Donovan said.

One way or the other, he said, the parties must work together. And while they're at it, the Democrats would like some preschool spending, please.

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