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Obama pushes preschool programs in Georgia trip

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 14, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.

— President Barack Obama’s ambitious plan to expand preschool programs comes as one of every 13 students already in Head Start classrooms is at risk of being kicked out if lawmakers don’t act to avert looming budget cuts.

Obama was set to talk about enlarging early childhood education programs such as Head Start during a stop Thursday in Georgia. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, meanwhile, told senators on Capitol Hill that pending budget cuts could be devastating to current students and could hurt the nation’s economy for years to come if students aren’t learning now.

“We’re trying to do a lot more in terms of early childhood education, not go in the opposite direction,” Duncan said. “Doing that to our most vulnerable children is education malpractice, economically foolish and morally indefensible.”

Obama’s team is warning Congress — and lawmakers’ constituents — what is expected to happen if leaders fail to avert $85 billion in automatic budget cuts set to begin March 1. With the cuts looming, the administration has increased its pressure on lawmakers, and Obama’s State of the Union address Tuesday made clear he was not looking for compromise as he begins his second term.

“I propose working with states to make high-quality preschool available to every child in America,” Obama told Congress and a national television audience.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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