Arne Duncan: Gov't-Funded Preschool a 'Social Movement' Like Civil Rights, Gay Marriage

Eric Scheiner | November 6, 2014 | 12:00pm EST
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Education Secretary Arne Duncan visits a classroom at DC Scholars Stanton Elementary School in Washington, D.C., (Official Department of Education photo by Paul Wood)

( - Secretary of Education Arne Duncan says government funded universal preschool is a “social movement” and compared it to civil rights and gay marriage during a speech in Los Angeles last month.

“At the end of the day for me this is really a social movement,” Duncan said when discussing federally subsidized preschool at the LA Universal Preschool (LAUP) forum on Oct. 21.

“If you look at social movements, we all celebrate what happened in the 1960’s. The civil rights movement was extraordinarily powerful, life transforming, earth shattering. But the question I have is, why didn’t the civil rights movement happen in the 50’s or the 40’s or 30’s or 20’s?” Duncan said.

“If you look at the movement now around gay marriage and marriage equality and gay rights that California is absolutely helping to lead. That’s fantastic it’s happening now, but why didn’t that happen two or three or four or five decades ago?”

“Think how very different so many of our American citizens – how different their lives would have been if they would have had the opportunity to live outside the shadows and to marry who they loved.”

Duncan continued, “So for me, the question- I know that access, universal access to high quality early learning is coming, it is the right thing, it’s a triumph of common sense but I don’t want to be talking about the victory 40 years from now.”

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