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Public Statements

School Readiness Act of 2005

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


SCHOOL READINESS ACT OF 2005 -- (House of Representatives - September 22, 2005)

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. LaHood). Pursuant to House Resolution 455 and rule XVIII, the Chair declares the House in the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union for the consideration of the bill, H.R. 2123.

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Mr. LARSON of Connecticut. Mr. Chairman, I rise today in strong support of the amendment offered by my distinguished colleague, the gentlewoman from Connecticut (Ms. DeLauro) that would allow Head Start centers to partner with colleges, universities and community-based organizations to recruit and train college students to serve as mentors and reading coaches to preschool children.

Early childhood is a critical time for children to develop reading, language and cognitive skills. For 40 years, Head Start has worked to increase the overall school preparedness for the Nation's young children in low-income communities. As Congress moves forward to reauthorize Head Start and make a number of changes, the reauthorization should include meaningful programming to improve the offerings of Head Start programs. This amendment, that allows Head Start centers to partner with an institution of higher education or a community-based organization in order to recruit and train college students to serve as mentors and reading coaches to preschool children, and would allow children to receive the personal instruction and attention they need to be successfully prepared for school.

One-to-one learning is a proven teaching method that strengthens cognitive skills in young children. Mentors provide children with the additional support they need to boost comprehension and self-confidence. Back home in my district in Connecticut, the Jumpstart Hartford program is an excellent example of this type of comprehensive learning partnership. Jumpstart Hartford, in partnership with the University of Hartford, facilitates one-on-one instruction with students from the University and young children from low-income families in Hartford. The program places special focus on developing stronger language, literacy, social and initiative skills. The program has made significant gains in narrowing language and literacy gaps with its young children.

Mr. Chairman, I urge my colleagues to support the DeLauro amendment that would allow mentor partnerships in Head Start and make real progress towards preparing all children in Head Start for success in school and throughout life.

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