The U.S. Conference of Mayors


WHEREAS, sweeping changes are posing new challenges to the upward mobility of workers into the middle class, as well as to American prosperity more generally; and

WHEREAS, more that 37 million people in the U.S. are officially poor today despite the fact that one-half of poor families are now working; and

WHEREAS, to successfully boost economic opportunity and grow the middle class, the U.S. must broaden investments in poverty policy from their focus on helping yesterday's workers to boosting the prospects of more of tomorrow's workers; and

WHEREAS, this approach gives lower income Americans the tools to help themselves, positions the government to achieve long-term savings as the need for today's poverty-related programs declines, and - most importantly - takes advantage of some of the key opportunities to reduce poverty that have been created by the sweeping changes of our time; and

WHEREAS, today, more than 45 percent of public school students tested in kindergarten and middle school fail to achieve age-appropriate proficiency in reading and mathematics, and only 35 percent of our urban middle school students achieve proficiency in math; and

WHEREAS, lower income children consistently perform worse in achievement tests in both reading and mathematics than higher income children, and they make up a disproportionately large share of those who drop out, doing so at twice the overall rate; and

WHEREAS, only one-half of lower income children even begin college, compared with more than 75 percent of higher income children; and

WHEREAS, the more success a child achieves in school, the less likely he or she is to live in poverty as an adult, and the poverty rate of high school dropouts is three times that of those who graduate; and

WHEREAS, one of every four American children drops out of high school before graduating, and the Council of the Great City Schools reports that in major cities like New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas, fewer than one-half of entering ninth graders graduate high school within four years; and

WHEREAS, as a result millions of young Americans reach adulthood with dramatically lower chances for economic success, as the overwhelming majority of those who drop out spend much of their lives on the margins of the economy; and

WHEREAS, educational attainment is the best predictor of economic success for an adult, and research shows that children who enter K-12 schools with no previous classroom time are less prepared to learn than children who attend preschool programs; and

WHEREAS, research has shown that investment in early childhood development programs brings a real (inflation adjusted) public return of 12 percent and a real total return, public and private, of 16 percent; and

WHEREAS, early childhood education benefits taxpayers through reduced need for welfare assistance, increased income tax revenue, less burden on the criminal justice system, and fewer children needing remedial education services; and

WHEREAS, research indicates that children who do not receive an early education are more likely to struggle as young adults and as adults, score more poorly on achievement tests, have children as teenagers, engage in criminal activity, and face chronic unemployment; and

WHEREAS, a recent study indicates that governmental investment in high quality, universal preschool could add more than $2 trillion to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2080; and

WHEREAS, Head Start successfully provides early education and wrap-around services to needy youth and their families who hope to move into the middle-class, but the current federal investment in the program serves only 60 percent of eligible three- and four-year-olds; and

WHEREAS, access to preschool and early education will help make the United States more globally competitive and secure in its future; and

WHEREAS, the members of the Conference of Mayors have previously adopted resolutions supporting investment in early childhood education and preschool,

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that The United States Conference of Mayors urges the federal and state governments to work with local governments to provide universal and standards-based preschool and early education to all families; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that all regulated early care and education program settings be included in this universal preschool and early education system if they can demonstrate that they meet local, state, and federal quality standards; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Conference of Mayors urges that in addition to expanding access to quality preschool programs, the hours of service of these programs be extended to accommodate the schedules of working families; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the Conference of Mayors encourages the continued support of the Head Start program, which provides additional services for families in need above and beyond preschool education; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that the federal government provide additional funding for Head Start to support a full-day option and raise the income threshold for Head Start eligibility.

2007 The U.S. Conference of Mayors
Tom Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Tel. 202.293.7330 ~ Fax 202.293.2352