Tennessee early education advocates say universal preschool proposal could help thousands of families

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Posted at 7:31 AM, May 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-03 11:42:35-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — President Joe Biden laid out several policy proposals in his first address to Congress last week, but to Melanie Shinbaum one issue stood out.

"This is really a need that families have had," she said.

Shinbaum is the president-elect of the Nashville Area Association for the Education of Young Children and said she was excited to hear about Biden's $200 billion plan to create a universal preschool program for three and four-year-olds across the country.

"Adding two years of universal high quality preschool for every three year old and four year old, no matter what background they come from, puts them in a position to be able to compete," Biden said during his address.

Shinbaum said the proposal could have a big impact in the Middle Tennessee, where early childhood education can fall short.

"The access to care for children in Nashville has been a problem for a while," she explained. "There are many areas of our community that are considered to be a childcare desert, where there's just not enough access to childcare fpr the children in the area."

Shinbaum said those issues have been highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The pandemic has really put additional pressures on organizations that provide this care," Shinbaum said.

The proposal is part of Biden's American Families Plan, a proposal that has drawn criticism from some Tennessee lawmakers.

In a statement, Sen. Marsha Blackburn said, "President Joe Biden and Washington Democrats want to spend trillions upon trillions of dollars to incentivize dependency on the federal government. To accomplish this, they will take away more money from Tennesseans’ hard-earned paychecks."