Congresswoman Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) today introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act of 2007 (H.R. 3289), legislation that will improve the quality of early childhood education throughout the United States.
"I am introducing the PRE-K Act because high quality early childhood education establishes a foundation for learning and achievement. Research shows that children who participate in quality pre-kindergarten and other early education programs are much more likely to succeed in school and in life. The PRE-K Act is one of the best investments we can make in our keiki, our families and our nation," said Congresswoman Hirono.
The PRE-K Act establishes a partnership between the federal government and the states to improve state-funded preschool programs serving children from birth to age five. The bill would provide $1 billion per year for five years to help states strengthen their pre-k programs, allowing states options to choose from based on their particular needs. This will give states additional resources and is intended to supplement vital services provided by other federal programs like Head Start. The bill is not a federal mandate.
The federal grant money can be used to increase the number of qualified early educators, improve the student-teacher ratio in preschools, or to increase the hours per day and weeks per year that families have access to early education. Additionally, grants could be spent on vital comprehensive services such as health screenings and nutritional assistance to preschool students.
Congresswoman Hirono said, "In Hawaii, the Early Learning Task Force is guiding the creation of a new state-funded preschool program. The Task Force members are doing a great job ensuring that Hawaii emerges as a leader in providing high quality early education opportunities. I am working here in Congress to ensure that the system they establish will get the federal support it deserves."
Congresswoman Hirono is a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, an assignment she sought upon entering Congress this year. She served as Lieutenant Governor of Hawaii from 1994 to 2002, during which time she established Pre-Plus, an innovative public-private partnership to expand and improve early childhood education. Pre-Plus has resulted in the construction of preschool classrooms at elementary schools at sites throughout Hawaii.
Education and Labor Committee Chairman George Miller (D-California), an original cosponsor of the PRE-K Act, said, "I thank Congresswoman Hirono for introducing this legislation and for her leadership on behalf of America's young children."
The text of Congresswoman Hirono's floor statement introducing the bill is available at http://hirono.house.gov/list/speech/hi02_hirono/PREK_intro.html