“If there ever was a nonpartisan issue, this is it”: Solidarity for universal preschool from two longtime capitalists

This past weekend, The New York Times published an op-ed titled “Capitalists for Preschool.” In the article, John Pepper and James Zimmerman, two “longtime corporate executives,” reiterate what early childhood experts have long been saying about the lasting impact of quality early childhood experiences, but with the authority that comes from being experienced in the world of business. Pepper was formerly a chairman of the Walt Disney Company and Procter & Gamble in addition to being Procter & Gamble’s former chief executive. Zimmerman was formerly a chairman and chief executive of Macy’s.

Pepper and Zimmerman emphasize that President Obama’s call for universal preschool makes absolute business sense. “The effectiveness of quality early childhood education has been affirmed by many business-related groups,” they write. They also describe a study by the Institute for a Competitive Workforce, which, similar to an economic report conducted about All Our Kin, found that each dollar invested in early education today can save between $2.50 and $17 later on.

After affirming the need for universal preschool in order to eradicate the pervasive inequality in our nation, the two self-proclaimed “capitalists” go on to say that universal preschool “is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing to do,” and that financing such a large scale project need not require higher taxes across the board.

“Rather, we believe the right approach will be to rebalance and optimize the money we are spending now.  The amount of money being spent on early childhood education is so small currently that we are confident it is possible to achieve the efficiencies needed to shift money from other areas of investment,” Pepper and Zimmerman propose.

“Our nation’s future demands it,” they insist, “If there ever was a nonpartisan issue, this is it.”

We thank John Pepper and James Zimmerman for sharing their insights about how to make universally accessible preschool a reality in the United States. Their piece, and their suggestions, are prime examples of the need for innovation and creativity from all sectors, and that early childhood education truly is everyone’s issue. We hope their words will spearhead leadership in the business community, engaging those with a variety of perspectives in ensuring that all children receive the early childhood experiences they need and deserve.

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