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Preschool Could Pave Way To School, Military Readiness

— Retired military leaders visited a Linda Vista preschool today to call on California to invest in high-quality early childhood education.

Retired military leaders say an investment in early childhood education is an investment in national security.

Maj. Gen James Comstock and Rear Adm. William Rodriguez were at the Jeff and Deni Jacobs Child Development Center to unveil a report from Mission: Readiness, a group of retired military leaders focused on future military readiness. According to the group, 75 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds cannot qualify for military service.

Investing in early childhood education could help change that, the report concludes, because research has shown that preschool can prepare students for more success in later years.

If California takes advantage of early childhood education funding being proposed by the Obama administration, it could translate into 250,000 more high school graduates within 10 years.

“What that translates to is more high school, better prepared ready to volunteer if they so choose to join the military but also ready to go into the private sector to compete on a global scale,” Comstock said.

Comstock said in an increasingly tech-based military, better educated enlistees are key to national security.

Some of the hallmarks of high-quality preschools include credentialed staff, low student-to-teacher ratios and the use of research-based curriculum, according to Robin Layton, president and CEO of the nonprofit Educational Enrichment Systems, Inc., which runs the Jacobs Center in Linda Vista.

California has lost about 100,000 preschools seats because of about $1 billion in state funding cuts over the last several years, Layton said.

A budget agreement reached by the governor and Democrats in the state legislature would restore $16 million of that funding in the next fiscal year if approved.

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