President Barack Obama returned to metro Atlanta today to promote his plan to make early childhood education a "national priority."
The president, who was joined by such local elected officials as Mayor Kasim Reed, Congressman Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia, and Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett visited Decatur's College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center to stress the importance of young children going to preschool, one of the main issues announced during Obama's State of the Union address.
Obama told the crowd of several hundred people that educated children, combined with a "thriving middle class," is the "true engine" of economic growth.
"That education has to start at the earliest possible age ... We are not doing enough to give all of our kids that chance," the president said. "In the end, that's what it's all about - giving our kids the best possible shot at life."
Obama recognized the Decatur school's students as "some of the lucky ones." He says that less than 3 in 10 four year olds are enrolled in "high quality" preschools.
"This is not babysitting. This is teaching," Obama said, applauding Georgia's commitment to provide parents easy access to outstanding preschools staffed with "highly educated teachers."
"Every dollar we invest in high quality early education can save more than seven dollars later on [by] boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, reducing violent crime," reported Obama. "Because if their generation prospers ... we'll all prosper that way."
The President also said the U.S. needs to "redesign our high schools so that a diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job" and address rising higher-education costs. He said the White House website features a "College Scorecard" that rates a schools' affordability and value.
After the jump, more photos of Obama's visit.
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