(Des Moines, IA) Vice Prsident Al Gore promises that if elected President, he’ll push to spend $50 Billion in federal funds over 10 years to ensure all four-year-olds in America attend pre-school.
During an event billed as a town hall meeting and sponsored by the ABC-tv program “Good Morning America,” Gore said he’d expect states to provide matching funds to achieve the goal of universal pre-school for all four-year-olds, and to allow more three-year-olds to attend pre-school as well.
“All the research and all the experience of parents has shown clearly that most learning takes place in the first few years of life, and if kids get off to a great start before they ever get to kindergarten, the chances for them to succeed in life…is greatly enhanced,” Gore said.
Gore said next year’s class of four-year-olds will total four million, a record for the U.S., eclipsing the so-called “Baby Boom” generation.
“I think it’s a wonderful idea,” John Johnson, principal of the Des Moines elementary school which hosted the town meeting, said of Gore’s proposal. “The question I would have would be will the funding go along with this to also include the need for additional facilities.
“For example, in my building, we have the needs and we could hire more teachers and we could have the materials, but we don’t have the space.”
Gore told Johnson he would want the federal money, coupled with the state funds, to be used for hiring teachers as well as constructing and renovating space for pre-school programs.
“I’ve supported and proposed $25 billion dollars of interest-free bonding authority for local school distrcits to modernize and build new facilities,” Gore said.
Gore is in the midst of a two-day campaign swing through Iowa, the state which hosts Caucuses January 24, 2000 — the kick-off event of the presidential campaign.
Gore’s rival, Bill Bradley, campaigned in Iowa on Monday and Tuesday.