Oklahoma is one of the leading states in providing students like Tre free, full-day pre-school. And the results are already paying off: according to a 2005 study, Oklahoma kids that went through pre-school showed vocabulary gains 28% higher than those of children without pre-school, and math gains 44% higher than non-pre-school kids. And we know that high-quality pre-school doesn’t just mean higher scores in elementary school. A now famous study in Ypsilanti, Michigan put low-income African-American children through two years of high-quality pre-school and at the same time recruited a control group from the same demographic who received no pre-school. The researchers checked back in when the children turned 40 and the results were stunning. Without any other interventions, the pre-school group was more likely to have graduated high school and less likely to have committed a violent crime. They also earned more money and were more likely to be employed.

But despite the powerful evidence of the life-changing and cost-saving potential of high-quality early childhood education only 59% of our poorest four-year-olds are in pre-kindergarten, compared to 90% of our country’s wealthiest kids. This hurts those kids’ futures and it hurts the U.S. I think we can all agree that our students need to be more, not less, prepared for life and for the workforce.