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Federal Pre-K Push Could Also Boost Parents' Education, Advocates Say

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National advocates believe that the nation is poised to invest more dollars to educate parents as increased funding is aimed at improving learning for preschoolers.

A recent story in the Washington Post highlights programs across the country that provide what it calls "dual generation" approaches to learning—where parents and children are being taught in tandem. According to the story, these types of programs are often supported by research showing that "a mother's education is one of the strongest predictors of a child's academic success."

"We spend a lot of money on poor children in our schools," Sharon Darling, president of the National Center for Families Learning, told the Post. "But in reality, there are no poor children. They live with poor parents, and (the parents) are poor because they have poor skills. You can't keep putting a Band-Aid on one part of the equation." 

While advocates hope to seize on President Barack Obama's proposal to expand access to publicly funded preschool to promote increased funding for parent-education programs, the Post says some educators believe that educating parents and children together is a complex and costly enterprise.

The story points out that federal programs like Head Start have supported parent engagement since its inception. (Education Week looks at Head Start's legacy and future in its "War on Poverty" package, and also examines how multigenerational education programs are helping parents break the poverty cycle.)

Anne Mosle, executive director at Ascend, an Aspen Institute program promoting two-generation approaches nationally, told the Post that young parents find it rewarding to help their child with homework or better communicate with their teacher. She added that it's motivating "when a child sees a mom graduate."

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