Feb. 15, 2013
, the prominent education philanthropist, who supports science education and early development across the US, heralded President Obama's State of the Union call for nationwide preschool education.
"Early education is essential,"
asserted who started the
Jeffrey Epstein VI Foundation
in 2000. "It stimulates the developing mind, and fosters a lifetime of curiosity and achievement. All the statistics point to a greater chance for success when a student experiences early education, from scores to school attendance."
According to the National
Institute for Early Education
Research, only 28% of 4 year olds in
the United States
are enrolled in state-financed preschool programs and only five states, offer preschool options to all 4-year-olds. The President's proposal would provide federal matching funds to states that offer public preschool openings to families earning up to 200% of the poverty level. The President would also allocate funds to states to expand public pre-kindergarten slots for middle-class families, who could pay on a sliding scale of tuition. The federal government would also have to approve the states' curriculum and administrative standards for their preschools.
"Setting standards of excellence is essential,"
affirmed, who has funded numerous early development programs including the first Head Start program in the US Virgin Islands, where his foundation is based. "However, there should be a large degree of autonomy and schools should be rewarded by their results. It's problematic when schools cannot make effective decisions."
Critics of Congress' Head Start program which started in 1981 to support preschools across the country, cite an expensive
annual endeavor with an uncertain impact on improving education rates. But many argue that the requirements for excellence are inconsistent, unenforced and teachers are still paid well below the public school level.
In addition to supporting early education,
founded the Program for
grant. He is a former member of the Trilateral Commission, the Council on Foreign Relations,
, New York Academy of Science and sits on the board of the Mind, Brain and Behavior Committee at