The majority of children under age 1 in the United States today are children of color; that one simple fact means that our future will be very different from our current reality. Before we reach the end of this decade, more than half of all youth in this country will be of color. Today, Hispanics are 17 percent of the population, and African Americans make up another 13 percent. But by 2043, the United States’ population will be majority people of color. A large portion of this growth will come from the Hispanic community, which will grow to 28 percent of the U.S. population by 2050. Because we know where the United States is headed, we have a unique opportunity to make the most of this knowledge and prepare today for tomorrow’s future. As the face of our nation changes, our nation’s policies will need to change as well. And while change is never easy, we know the place to start is where the change is already happening—and that means investing in our nation’s youngest citizens.
We must prepare our children for the future by giving them the educational foundation that predicates so much of future success, and that starts with quality early childhood education. Access to high-quality preschool is central to school readiness, and school readiness can significantly impact everything from reading at grade level to graduating high school to being career ready later in life. Given that many children of color already face the challenge of poverty—42.5 percent of African American children under age 5 and 37.1 percent of Hispanic children under age 5—access to high-quality preschool could have positive, long-lasting, and compounding effects on future success. But recent data from 2011 show that more than half of African American children and 63 percent of Hispanic children ages 3 to 4 do not attend preschool.
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