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For Immediate Release:
May 17, 2004
NAEYC Marks Anniversary of Brown v. Board Decision with Call for Greater Commitment to Meeting the Needs of All Young Children
Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right, which must be made available to all on equal terms.
- Unanimous opinion, Brown v. Board of Education, 1954
(Washington, D.C.) - As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education, we recognize the many changes in our society and our schools as a result of that historic decision. Now we must commit ourselves with even greater energy to the promises and opportunities of Brown that remain unfulfilled for too many of our nation's children.
The call for high academic standards for all students, and for schools to be accountable for students' academic success, is the right one. But the path to that goal is severely hindered by insufficient public investment in our schools and in the well being of our children before they reach the schoolhouse door. Research clearly shows that high-quality early childhood programs make a significant difference in children's early literacy, math skills, and behavior, and bring later cost savings by reducing the need for special education and lowering juvenile delinquency. High-quality child care, preschool and Head Start programs set the stage for children's success in school and in life, but there are too few quality programs for the many families who need them.
We must also recognize that even the best early childhood programs and schools are not a panacea for the problems that many families in our country face each day. The "opportunity of an education," which the Brown decision established as a right of all Americans, involves many other factors. To ensure that opportunity, we as a nation must provide adequate and equitable resources to help all families and children - regardless of race, income, disability, or ethnicity - have access to quality child care, affordable housing in safe neighborhoods, health and mental health care, stable jobs with living wages, and schools that help students achieve high expectations, become good citizens, and prepare for higher education and good employment.
In 1954, the Supreme Court called education "perhaps the most important function of state and local governments." Today, it is widely recognized as a crucial function of the federal government as well. At all levels of government, and in all sectors of society, we must renew our commitment to providing all children the opportunity of quality education, beginning from their earliest years.
Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children has nearly 90,000 members worldwide. The association is the largest and most influential advocate for early care and education in the
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Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the largest and most influential advocate for high-quality early care and education in the United States.