Military Pre-K: An Unlikely Model in Early Education
Pennsylvania policymakers should learn from the military's child development system
Recognizing the tremendous benefits of early education, the Department of Defense has developed and invested in exemplary pre-kindergarten programs. These high-quality pre-K programs emphasize school readiness and are part of a larger comprehensive early care and education system that all active-duty military families have voluntary access to. These pre-K and early learning programs are viewed as an essential part of military family readiness, so the Department of Defense has committed resources to ongoing quality enhancement and expansion of the system to better ensure universal access and positive outcomes for military children.
This report spotlights the military’s pre-K program, and shows how broader adoption of similar high-quality early education across Pennsylvania could improve future military readiness. Specifically, data show that poor educational achievement is a leading reason why an estimated 72% of all young Pennsylvanians aged 17 to 24 are unable to join the military. In Pennsylvania, 16% of young people do not graduate from high school on time, and 22% of those who do graduate and seek to enlist in the Army cannot join because of low scores on the military’s entrance exam. High quality pre-kindergarten programs can help children succeed in school and avoid criminal involvement, opening the doors to college, careers and military service, if they choose to serve.