President Obama at Powell

President Obama announced his  fiscal 2015 budget on Tuesday morning at Powell Elementary in the District’s Petworth neighborhood, highlighting the school’s early childhood education program as a model for the nation.

Obama’s $3.9 trillion proposal seeks to pump tens of billions of new dollars into education, including into expanding public preschool programs, which he has called essential to helping lift the achievement and prospects of poor children.

“We know — and this is part of the reason why we’re here today — that education has to start at the earliest possible ages,”  Obama said. “So this budget expands access to the kind of high-quality preschool and other early learning programs to give all of our children the same kinds of opportunities that those wonderful children that we just saw are getting right here at Powell.”

Obama paid a visit to a Powell classroom filled with three- and four-year olds. Offered a stool, he chose instead to sit cross-legged on the carpet with students, taking one boy into his lap as the class spelled out a sentence.

Powell’s program is part of the District’s effort to offer universal access to public prekindergarten. A dual-language school where students learn in both Spanish and English. it has undergone a rapid transformation in recent years under the leadership of Principal Janeece Docal, with enrollment nearly doubling since 2009 from 219 students to more than 400.

Published by Washington Post: