When Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) asked a panel of education experts at a recent Senate Committee hearing how they’d improve the country’s public schools, they failed to mention early learning. Instead the experts offered ideas on improved assessments, better teacher evaluations and different high school exams. I find this both surprising and perplexing. Research clearly points to the critical importance and economic sense of investing in early childhood. If we really want to see improvement in the public schools, we cannot omit the opportunity we have to influence success well before a child reaches kindergarten.