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House and Senate hold hearings to discuss early childhood education

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by Colleen Flaherty

Last week, President Obama delivered his State of the Union address and reaffirmed his commitment to provide quality pre-K for every 4-year-old, especially for the 26 percent of American children who live in poverty.

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Legislators from both parties are behind the president. Both the Senate and the House held hearings this week to discuss legislation that would make preschool more accessible for all children.

“President Obama stressed that early childhood education is one of the smartest investments we can make. I couldn’t agree more,” said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) earlier this week.

Unfortunately, existing programs are not currently equipped to provide preschool for kids in need. For example, Head Start only reaches about two-fifths of eligible preschool-age children

“As a former preschool teacher, I know the difference it can make in a child’s life. Preschool offers young learners the building blocks they need to go to kindergarten, ready to tackle the curriculum. The path to greater opportunity in this country starts with a quality education.”

Individuals who were enrolled in quality preschool programs earn up to $2,000 more per month than those who were not, and young people who were in preschool programs were more likely to graduate from high school and own homes. Children in quality preschool programs are less likely to repeat grades, need special education, or get in trouble with the law later on.

Not just that, but from an economic perspective, high-quality prekindergarten programs can pay for themselves in as little as a year, and over decades, these programs can save billions, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

“Investing in children at a very young age makes sense from a moral perspective, because we are a nation that does not turn our back on those most in need. It makes sense from a business perspective because we are a nation that is constantly working to support our businesses. And it makes sense from an economic and academic perspective,” said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), one of the cosponsors of the Senate bill.

Both the House and Senate bill would establish a new federal-state partnership to accelerate progress already underway and help states fund high-quality prekindergarten for four-year olds from low-income families; encourage states to support prekindergarten for four-year-olds from moderate-income families; and encourage learning opportunities for even younger children – for example, through partnerships with Early Head Start programs.

Reader Comments

  1. Teresa

    We should be ashamed of ourselves. I taught in public schools in England where they have had free universal preschool for THREE-year-olds as well as four-year-olds for many years. France has had universal preschool for 3- and 4- year-olds since the ’60′s. It’s time for the U.S. to get with the program!!! I am so disgusted.

    Reply
  2. Carol Peirce

    This is a ridiculous statement because we have free preschool available to low income preschoolers through various government run programs such as Headstart, Pre-K counts and Early Intervention. All are accompanied by mounds of government paperwork. This in turn keeps hundreds of people employed in the department of welfare, because some one has to make up this unnecessary paperwork and shuffle and file this paper which is not paper but computer programs so we in turn hire many government computer programers who know nothing about education. In the end the children we are trying to help suffer because no one has time to teach them because of all the paperwork.

    Reply
  3. Karen Zyczynski

    If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all our children, then we have an obligation as a society to equalize education opportunity for all our children. That is what makes democracy great, equal opportunity for all!

    Reply

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