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Students in a pre-K class at Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School. Photo: Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images.

Universal preschool would help close the math and reading gaps between white and black children who are approaching kindergarten, an analysis from the National Institute for Early Education Research shows.

The big picture: Schools with high quality learning programs have resources to ensure a child is on track in age-appropriate learning activities. These programs have systemically left black children behind due to high tuition and waiting lists.

  • Black children are on average nearly nine months behind in math and almost seven months behind in reading compared to their white non-Hispanic peers, the report notes.

Why it matters: Math and reading skills at kindergarten entry are indicators of later school success, and children who enter kindergarten behind are unlikely to catch up.

What they're saying: Universal pre-K would practically eliminate the reading skills gap for kindergarten and cut the math skills gap almost in half — from about nine months to five months.

  • Only Florida, Vermont and Washington, D.C., offer full universal pre-K, according to the Education Commission of the States.
  • Some cities, such as San Antonio, have expanded pre-K programs for eligible families.

Yes, but: Economic turmoil often leads to less spending in public schools, with lower standards and decreased enrollment. And right now, states are absorbing massive public health costs and economic blowback from the pandemic.

The bottom line, per Rutgers University researchers: "Providing all Black children access to high-quality preschool will not be a small task. It will require raising quality standards, expanding enrollment, and, of course, more funding."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Elizabeth Warren: "I love a good plan, and Joe Biden has really good plans"

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) promoted universal child care during her Wednesday evening address to the Democratic National Convention.

Why it matters: Warren argued that child care should be part of the "basic infrastructure of this nation," adding that Biden and Harris "will make high-quality child care affordable for every family, make preschool universal and raise the wages of every childcare worker."

Kendall Baker, author of Sports
9 mins ago - Sports

European soccer is at war

Liverpool celebrating its 2019 Champions League victory. Photo: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images

Europe's biggest soccer clubs have established The Super League, a new midweek tournament that would compete with — and threaten the very existence of — the Champions League.

Why it matters: This new league, set to start in 2023, "would bring about the most significant restructuring of elite European soccer since the 1950s, and could herald the largest transfer of wealth to a small set of teams in modern sports history," writes NYT's Tariq Panja.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
38 mins ago - Economy & Business

2021's expected earnings blowout begins

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. Photo: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg via Getty Images

First-quarter earnings so far have been very strong, outpacing even the rosy expectations from Wall Street and that's a trend that's expected to continue for all of 2021. S&P 500 companies are on pace for one of the best quarters of positive earnings surprises on record, according to FactSet.

Why it matters: The results show that not only has the earnings recession ended for U.S. companies, but firms are performing better than expected and the economy may be justifying all the hype.