Congress Announces Bipartisan Proposal to Expand Early Ed Access

Secretary Arne Duncan joined members of Congress, business and military leaders, law enforcement officials, educators and parents last week, to voice support for a landmark early learning bill. Introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.), and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), the Strong Start for America’s Children Act would improve and expand high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth to age five.

Earlier this year, President Obama proposed a new partnership with states that would provide universal, high-quality, full-day preschool for 4-year olds from low- and moderate-income families. The new bill, if signed into law, will accelerate the progress that states already are making to implement high-quality preschool programs and ensure that these programs are accessible to children who need them the most.


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Meredith Bajgier is a public affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of Education

9 Comments

  1. Additional monies need to be allocated for preschool funding.
    Folks are forgetting how small these children are, and that they will need everything in their size (toilets, water fountains, chairs, tables, coat hooks, shelves, materials, playgrounds, etc.)
    How can we add another grade level when we don’t fund the current K-8 adequately?

  2. The children should not be discriminated against– as they are in Head Start and Great Start programs. The greatest teachers of preschoolers are OTHER preschoolers who possess more knowledge, worldly experiences, and healthy habits. And Directors need executive skills to run these programs if they are not part of the public school class system. They will hire the best teachers and caregivers–and fire them, too, when necessary. We don’t need the president of Microsoft to run these programs (but it would help). And we certainly don’t need the Federal Government… Local School Boards could hire and fire the Directors (like they hire and fire the Supt. of Schools in their district).

  3. In general I can agree with the proposal to expand early education programs. Research indicates that children with the benefit of early education programs perform better in the earlier years of school than their peers who did not receive that advantage. But, this is not a significant solution to fixing our educational system as a whole because research also indicates that the advantages gained in early education programs are lost after the first few years of schooling. Starting kids earlier in the same flawed system is not a solution. Performance standards need to be addressed and remedied throughout our educational system. This means performance standards for students and our instructors, in order to maintain an effective, integrated educational system from beginning to end.

  4. I am an aspiring educator in the Early Childhood field and am currently enrolled in a bachelors program for early childhood. In my opinion I believe that this is new bill will up many more opportunities for individuals, like myself, who are interested in becoming preschool teachers or working with young children. The Strong Start for America’s Children Act proposes that teachers in these all day preschools should receive the same pay as teachers in the public school systems. This is a big step toward professionalizing the art of early childhood teachers, and recognizing that the education of our younger ones is just as vital and critical as elementary education and beyond.

  5. By answering the president’s call to make preschool available to every child in America, this proposed legislation is a promising step forward in education reform. Providing all children—regardless of family background or income—access to early education will help spur development among at-risk populations and close the learning gaps that take hold in these formative years.

    Yet while the introduction of this bill marks an important move in the right direction, it must now make its way through both chambers of Congress and onto the president’s desk. We must not permit our elected officials to kick this down the road like the budget debate or take it off the table like immigration reform. Every delay in this effort to expand early childhood education will steal from yet another group of children the chance to start on equal footing with their peers. But with public officials and business leaders, parents and teachers, Democrats and Republicans all expressing support for this bill, there is no reason Congress should not pass it swiftly and provide preschool access for all as soon as possible. The Strong Start for America’s Children Act offers the perfect opportunity for the divided parties and houses to come together and actually get something accomplished.

    Early childhood education has proven time and again to yield substantial returns on investment. And the sooner we make this investment, the sooner it will pay off. Preschool for all will be good for our economy, good for approval ratings, and—most importantly—good for our nation’s children.

  6. I have been in the early childhood field for 40 yrs. I have seen the need for for programs such as Headstart, State Preschool, these low income children benefit from these programs . But what about other children who are not low income and also in need of a preschool environment prior to kindergarten ! Lets look close at time involves in implementing DRDPS … Time consuming…not suffient time given to teacher to complete these within 60 days of enrollment… I am so serious on this matter DRDPS is so time consuming … I know many teachers who do them at home without pay… High Quality Standards also mean look at the job duties of the teachers and instructional aides! Parents should be aware of DRDPS at parent meeting! Funds should be provided to Teacher for photos … Art supplies should be provide as needed and not if you didn’t write that on your ECERS … Lets look closely at what it truly means High Quality!

  7. I live in an high poverty area of Alaska where kids could do more if more was available. I desire the best for our Native children that places them on a level playing that other families take for granted. A quality voluntary early education program can be made available and should be in the public school system. My determination is to offer such that parents can elect to have a program that counts and help prepare students early for the college and career readiness. My kids count and anything less will only present more chances of educational suicide. With early education for 0-5 year olds, young mother and fathers will can learn parenting and be involved with a purpose in their child’s education.

    • Though it is an important step to focus on early learning, this step can become mute if quality is not at the forefront. Core values, cognitive development, social emotional strength, and teachers suited to teach children in poverty are rarely main considerations in defining quality. If we are to raise a new strong generation and develop the human potential of our country, deeper question need to be asked before we waste more money on the same current approaches. People of color, people in poverty and people with infants and and young children must be brought to the table to define such quality.

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