Can the Bezos Academy help mend America’s child care crisis?

In 2018, Jeff Bezos, one of the richest people in the world, announced that he would create a network of free Montessori-inspired preschools. The move was met with surprise from some Montessori educators and a fair bit of skepticism from many in the early childhood education space. Bezos has said he was inspired by his experience as a child at a Montessori preschool in New Mexico to invest in high-quality early education. 

Five years later, Bezos Academy is here. And it’s expanding. 

The network now has 16 preschools across Washington, Texas and Florida, with the goal of getting to nearly 20 by the end of the year.

Of course, that’s not nearly enough to make up for the nationwide dearth of affordable programs offering high-quality care and education for young children. Half of Americans live in a “child care desert,” or a census tract with more than 50 children under the age of 5 that has either no or very limited licensed care providers, according to estimates by the Center for American Progress. Nearly 16,000 child care programs across dozens of U.S. states permanently closed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a 2022 report from Child Care Aware of America, a national membership association that works to improve child care and the early childhood profession. 

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