Perlich also said the cost of an underachieving student population has societal impacts beyond the academic struggles of individual children.
"If you have an underclass that is not successful in connecting to the labor market, that isn't self-sufficient, that ends up not being civically engaged in a meaningful way, that leads to all kinds of bad outcomes," she said. "There is a cost to be paid for an underclass in any community or any society."
Herbert's comments also struck on the topic of state funding. He mentioned the recent statements by President Barack Obama calling for universal preschool and said there is merit to the idea as long as it remains optional for families.
"The biggest problem is: Can we afford it?" he said. "As someone who used to own a day care center and preschool, I understand there is a lot of interest by families out there to have some preschool. But that ought to be something that’s developed by the private sector."
Contributing: Lisa Riley Roche
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