Education Secretary Arne Duncan: Pre-School is Better Than Grandma

June 13, 2013 - 10:38 AM

Arne Duncan

Education Secretary Arne Duncan (AP Photo)

(CNSNews.com) – Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Wednesday that “cultural hesitation” makes it more difficult for some Hispanic parents to want to enroll their children in public pre-school programs because of their preference for family and friends.

Duncan’s remarks came when asked about pre-school and the Hispanic community at an event to mark the anniversary of Educare of Washington, D.C., a preschool for children from six weeks to five years old.

Educare of Washington, D.C., is part of the Educare Learning Network, which has 18 pre-schools in 12 states.

Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius attended the event to urge support for President Barack Obama’s 2014 budget request to double the number of four-year-olds in pre-school nationwide from 1.1 million to 2.2 million over the next decade, the Washington Post reported.

Obama is also proposing $15 million more for infants and toddlers and home visitations, according to Duncan.

“Two different challenges that I think we have to face,” Duncan said. “One that [HHS Secretary] Kathy [Sebelius] talked about is sometimes you have a cultural piece where people are scared to put their kids in more formal care and they prefer, you know, to do the grandmother, the neighbor, whatever.

“And so how we communicate very directly with families and churches and non-profits to make sure if we build it they will come, there’s some work we need to do there,” Duncan said.

Sebelius said pre-school could make Hispanic children “culturally comfortable” with entering public schools as kindergartners.

“Making sure that families are culturally comfortable with the kind of environments that they’re going to hit at a school level and that they feel welcome, know how to participate and know how to support their kids,” Sebelius said.

Duncan said work was needed on “how we challenge some of the cultural hesitation” of Hispanic parents.