If you agree that parenting education should be on the agenda in discussions of education, health care and workforce development, please read and sign our petition bit.ly/XGkgUf .

The February 25 USA Today published six letters responding to President Obama’s proposal for universal pre-school. This one, from me, the last and longest, had its own headline, “Focus more on educating mom and dad” . . . yeah!

Commentary writer Kay Hymnowitz is right in one respect: Universal preschool won’t fix the academic and social woes young people are experiencing. She is wrong, however, about the nature of preschool: It’s not “a way of gently introducing children to the discipline and structure of formal education.” She puts the academic cart before the social-emotional horse (“Universal pre-K not the solution,” Opinion, Tuesday).

From infancy to about age 5, children’s main activities involve learning who they are, what they like, what they are good at, and how to manage their bodies and their feelings. Of course, they usually learn their letters and numbers, but these should not be the focus. Putting academic learning ahead of play harms children and disrespects parents.

Instead of pushing formal schooling into early childhood, let’s consider offering universal parenting education.

To the extent that we can prepare parents for the complex and ever-changing responsibilities of raising a child, we will have a better chance at reducing the financial and personal toll of young people’s depression, alcohol and drug abuse and other behavioral problems. At the same time, we will help them achieve success in school.

If you are a parent, an early childhood educator, a parenting educator, schoolteacher, counselor, pediatrician – whoever, wheverer you are – if you agree that parenting education and support must be moved to the top of our policy agenda, please sign the petition! Thank you!!