Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

The fiscal year 2013 federal budget that President Obama released last week contains cause for at least cautious optimism, as summarized by the National Institute for Early Education Research, CLASP, the National Women’s Law Center and the First Five Years Fund. “Early education,” says NIEER, “is clearly an administration priority, though perhaps not as high a priority as we would like.”

Here are some highlights, culled from their reports:

See a table tracking federal spending on early education from Early Ed Watch, a blog of the New America Foundation. The foundation also poses a number of questions about Obama’s budget, among them questions about the Early Learning Challenge and whether funds for extending school hours could be used to expand half-day kindergarten programs to full day.

One final note. Obama’s budget is viewed more as a blueprint of his vision going into the 2012 election than as a springboard for timely action on Capitol Hill. As Birth to Thrive Online notes, “The Obama administration’s budget is only the first move in a high-stakes game that will be complicated this year by presidential and congressional politics.”