Congresswoman Susan Davis Introduces Bill to Expand Access to Early Education

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Washington, DC, May 21, 2015 | comments

As the view of early education as a national priority continues to grow, Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego) introduced legislation to provide access to Pre-K education for low- and middle-income families. The EARLY Act (Expanded Access to Real Learning for our Young Act) would set up partnership between states and the federal government to make Pre-K education available to millions of children at no cost.

“The argument for universal Pre-K is not just a moral imperative – it’s also good science and economics,” said Davis, a senior member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. “Kids who receive high-quality early education are more likely to achieve success in both school and life. The research shows they’re more likely to graduate high school, earn higher pay, and live more productive lives.”

The EARLY Act would:

  • Permit each 4-year old child in participating states to enroll in the Pre-K program, which would be free to families at 400% of the poverty level. At this level, many middle class families – many not able to afford a quality Pre-K program because they are struggling to make ends meet or living in cities with a high cost of living - would be able to enroll their 4-year olds.  
  • Cap the classroom size at 20 children per teacher.
  • Ensure student ratios are no greater than 10 to 1 (teacher + teacher aide).
  • Set teacher salaries at those comparable to teachers at public K-12 schools in the state.
  • Require the state to maintain a level of minimum parental engagement in their child’s program.
  • Establish a funding partnership between the federal government and the states, with the federal share of the grant under the law not exceeding 75 percent.

Today, only 69 percent of 4-year-old American children are enrolled in early childhood education programs. That troubling statistic places the United States near the bottom (26th) in terms of access to prekindergarten among our advanced country peers.  In our modern global economy, that means many American children start behind when they can least afford to. 

Extensive research into early education has determined that a quality program not only improves academic success of the student but it reduces the potential for future involvement in crime.

The EARLY Act has been endorsed by the National Centers for Families Learning and the National Association of Elementary School Principals.

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Tags: Education

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