Pre-K Around the Beltway: A National Security Imperative
Pre-K is still backed up in Virginia, and that's hurting military readiness
Poor educational achievement is a leading reason why more than 70% of all young Americans are unable to join the military. It’s increasingly rare to get accepted into military service without a high school diploma, yet in Virginia, 18% of young people do not graduate from high school on time. In addition, 26% of high school graduates in Virginia seeking to enlist in the Army cannot join because of low scores on the military’s entrance exam for math, literacy and problem-solving. Without enough skilled men and women available to serve in tomorrow’s armed services, we endanger the future strength of our military and our national security.
High-quality pre-k can help disadvantaged children succeed in school and avoid criminal involvement, opening the doors to college, careers and military service, if they choose to serve. In Montgomery County, Maryland, all eligible low-income 4-year-olds whose families want pre-K are served by high-quality programs with excellent results. Meanwhile, just miles away in Fairfax County, Virginia, 46 percent of state-funded slots are left unfilled, hundreds of eligible low-income children are on the waiting list, and funds budgeted for pre-K are being returned to the state.
This report shows how a greater investment in pre-K in Virginia would lead to better education outcomes and improved military eligibility.