Local leaders are right (“Early childhood education gets new push at State House,” May 29) to back investments that make quality pre-kindergarten affordable. But Augusta doesn’t have to go it alone.

It’s about fairness. Just 48 percent of low-income children enter kindergarten school-ready, compared to three-fourths of higher-income kids. Quality pre-K levels the playing field, especially for poor kids. And it cultivates “soft skills” prized by employers, like focus and critical thinking, giving today’s kids a better chance to compete in tomorrow’s economy.

Congress should build a federal-state partnership, like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (MaineCare in Maine), which provides quality, cost-effective health care for Maine kids. Federal funds would help states like Maine make pre-K affordable for every child. And funding would be limited to providers meeting evidence-informed quality standards.

MaineCare’s success shows Republicans and Democrats can put kids ahead of politics. Let’s urge Maine’s leaders in Congress to do it again. A child’s potential, not a parent’s income, should define the limits of academic success.

Bruce Lesley

President, First Focus

Washington, D.C.

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