Letter #8: The Earliest of Educations
Dear President Trump,
I have three children ages 2, 4, and 8 and I work full time with my spouse. I live in the DC Baltimore Area. I pay approximately $45,000 a year in childcare. That is more than what we pay for our mortgage and it is by far the largest household expense. Luckily, it is an expense we can afford.
There are a couple of problems with that number: it is too much and also not enough.
First, it is a price we are happy to pay. My spouse and I recognize the value of early childhood education. Early childhood education has been linked in children to higher IQs later in life, better social development, and better attendance in grade school in multiple scientific studies. It has also been shown to help children develop stronger immune systems and mental stability. All of these things mean that children who attend early childhood education result in healthier and more productive adults. This ultimately means a better American work force.
Second, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that most of the time the responsibility of staying at home with children falls on women. Well if the benefits outlined above weren’t enough, having a working mother has also shown to lead to later in life success for a child, particularly girls — which is only possible if a child is being cared for early on. With Ivanka working so closely at your side I know you can see the value in having women with young children in the workplace. Women who work when they have small children also have higher self worth, are happier in the home, and can provide for their families in a more stable manner. They are also out making America strong in the workforce!
However, early childhood education comes at a really high monetary price. Most people cannot afford to pay that amount of money. In fact, the cost is so prohibitive that many parents choose to have a stay at home parent rather than forgo the cost of childcare. This is a problem for a few reasons. First, it is a problem because the families that make this choice are more likely to be lower socioeconomic families. This means that right from the day these children are born they are less likely to be as successful as children whose parents can afford to send them to childcare centers. For instance, one study randomly assigned 3 and 4 year olds from low-income families to childcare centers and by the time these children were adults the ones who participated in childcare were 5 times less likely to have committed a crime. This gets into a whole set of issues regarding social equality, which doesn’t seem terribly fair to try to explain to a 2 year old. It is also a whole lot cheaper to pay for childcare (which results in productive tax-paying adults) rather than paying for prison (which is paid for by tax dollars).
The second problem with the monetary cost of childcare is that it isn’t enough. For parents it is prohibitive, but for the teachers and the childcare providers it isn’t enough. I am friends with my children’s teachers and I know that they do not make close to enough money for the work they do. Additionally, most of these teachers have masters degrees in early childhood education. These are people who care deeply about providing the best care to the developing brains of my children. Yet, I know for a fact that they aren’t earning enough money to adequately pay off their student loans for the education that makes them so great at their jobs. It is a tireless job filled with amazing people who aren’t being paid close to enough money.
So I’ve established that early childhood education improves the lives of the children and the parents. It means more healthy, productive, and smarter adults. Ultimately, it means a stronger America. I’ve also established that the cost is overly prohibitive yet doesn’t pay the teachers enough money.
What I’m asking for you to do is to consider extending the education system to younger children. I would encourage you to think about establishing public schools that would accept children as young as 2 to 3 years old. Additionally, I encourage you to look at creating a salary structure that supports early childhood educators with good pay. You talk about making America great again. I think we can start by looking at our youngest citizens and ensuring that they have the best chance possible of being great Americans.
A version of this letter was sent to President Donald Trump as well as a few Senators and Congressmen. Feel free to use this letter and it’s content as a template for writing your own letter to the President and other elected officials.
President Donald Trump
1600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20500