Anyone looking for evidence that universal preschool is likely to play a significant role in the '08 elections can find it in this comprehensive story on preschool legislation just turned in by Linda Jacobson in Education Week. Three bills pushing up the federal role in preschool are pending before Congress, one of them Hillary Clinton's Ready to Learn Act.
On the campaign trail Clinton talks about building a $10 billion universal preschool program for four-year-olds. Her legislation, however, includes no dollar figure -- only that it would target families below 200 percent of poverty and therefore not eligible for Head Start.
(Hmmm, you're thinking ... sounds like Women with Needs. Exactly, which makes this a glimpse into a formula that's proving successful for her.)
Any federal preschool program is most likely to help those in-between families (too well-off for Head Start, too poor for a quality private preschool -- a group of voters both sides can win over) which is why it's reasonable to assume this is an issue with political legs. To date, we've only heard preschool talk from the Democrats, but it may not be long before this bubbles up from the other side...