Washington Post – Parents, child care providers and advocates showed up wearing bright yellow to protest Arlington County’s proposal to eliminate child care safety and quality standards and revert to lower state standards. More than 1,000 have signed a petition urging board members not to overturn the county’s 40-year-old regulations in order to close a budget shortfall.
Even a group of retired senior military officers has joined the growing chorus of outrage. It plans to release a report on Tuesday on how early learning is critical for national security, the day that board members meet to consider cutting the Office of Child Care Licensing in their budget work session.
“This is a really short-sighted proposal. If anything, Arlington ought to be marching down to Richmond and asking the state to meet their standards,” said retired Air Force Gen. Norman Seip, with Mission: Readiness, a nonpartisan group based in Washington. “The state standards are among the worst in the nation. They shouldn’t be racing the pack to the bottom.”
Seip and the other officers are concerned that the Defense Department has found that poor education is the leading reason why 75 percent of the nation’s 17-to-24-year-olds are ineligible for military service.
“National security is not about tanks and ships. It’s about our men and women,” he said. “So from the first moment that [a] young boy or girl enters the world, we have to give them a solid foundation. It
starts in pre-K and child care.”