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Obama pushes preschool programs during visit

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President Barack Obama repeated his call to make high-quality preschool programs available to every child in America during a speech at Decatur's Recreation Center on Thursday.

Obama arrived at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta at around 11:30 a.m. As Obama exited Air Force One, he spoke with Col. Steven Clayton, the operations group commander at Dobbins, and Senior Airman Tumyra Byron of Macon, who was selected from the enlisted ranks for the welcoming party.

"It was quite the experience, once in a lifetime and I'm just happy that I was selected to be about to greet the President at Dobbins Air Reserve Base," Byron said.

The President saw about 75 invited guests -- family and friends of government employees -- who got a chance to shake hands and say a few words.

CLICK HERE TO SEE PICTURES FROM THE PRESIDENT'S VISIT

Longtime friends Marian Cooley and Penny Linley called it a once in a lifetime experience.

"Speechless – he shook my hand. I'm not going to wash my hand today. He was so nice and he was calm and just a wonderful experience," said Cooley.

Rich and Carrie Lassiter brought their young sons Ethan and Tyler, who got a high-five and "knuckles" from the President.

He visited College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center in Decatur, taking the time to talk with students and teachers. He then traveled to the Recreation Center, where he repeated key points he made during the State of the Union address on Tuesday.

During his State of the Union address, Obama said fewer than 3 in 10 4-year-olds in America are enrolled in quality pre-school programs, something he wants to change.

"Most parents cannot afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. I propose working with states like Georgia to make high quality preschool available to every child in America," Obama said.

Obama mentioned Georgia and its early education program during the address on Tuesday. Georgia has introduced the importance of early education with the lottery funded Pre-K Program.

"Making those young people more vibrant in school, so we have a very strong and very good program, and system here in Georgia," Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves.

Obama says programs like Georgia's Pre-K Program give kids a leg up in life, making them better students and citizens.

"Every dollar we invest in high quality, early childhood education can save more than $7 later on, by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime," said Obama.

Obama wants the federal government to work hand in hand with states to increase preschool opportunities. Education is just part of the Obama's push. He also wants to increase the quality of education in high school, specifically technical vocational schools.

Air Force One left the Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta around 2:40 Thursday afternoon, the Associated Press reported.

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