Factsheet | February 28, 2018

Early Learning in Tennessee: A National Security Imperative

How high-quality pre-K can help more young adults qualify for military service

Military leaders are increasingly concerned that there are not enough qualified candidates to defend our nation. This concern stems from problems including education, obesity, crime and drug abuse that render many young adults ineligible for military service.

In Tennessee, 73 percent of today’s young adults cannot join the military.

While high-quality pre-K has gained traction, 61% of 3- and 4-year-olds in Tennessee still do not attend.

High-quality pre-K can help children succeed

Mounting research shows that the early years of life are incredibly important for later learning, behaviors and health. Studies show that high-quality pre-K helps children:

  • Be better prepared for school: Participants in the Tennessee Voluntary Pre-K Program had higher school readiness outcomes at the end of their pre-K year, and were half as likely to be held back in kindergarten, compared to children who didn’t participate.
  • Achieve a healthy weight: Pre-K programs that emphasize healthy eating, physical activity and parent engagement can help lower child obesity rates by five to 24 percent.
  • Stay on the right side of the law: Studies of two high-quality pre-K programs found that participating children were less likely to have criminal records as adults.

Policymakers should continue the movement toward high-quality pre-K

Over the past few years, high-quality pre-K has gained traction across the U.S. However, 61% of 3- and 4-year-olds in Tennessee still do not attend.

Policymakers should continue to expand high-quality early education to ensure that all children are prepared in mind, body and character to succeed at whatever career they choose, including military service.

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