Tsongas urges support for early childhood education in Budget Resolution
This afternoon, the House of Representatives will consider the fiscal year 2010 budget resolution, which will fund government operations for the coming fiscal year. Congresswoman Niki Tsongas, a member of the budget committee, spoke on the House floor in support of the investment that the budget makes in early childhood education. Studies have shown that early childhood education contributes greatly to a child's ability to arrive at school ready to learn and to his or her long term academic success. Below is a copy of her remarks.
"I am pleased to rise in support of the Democratic budget resolution which makes a much-needed investment in early education. We have heard much about the costs of action, but not enough about the costs of inaction.
"As we look ahead to an increasingly competitive global economy, it has never been more important to ensure that our citizens are well prepared. Simply put, we will not again experience sustained economic growth if we do not invest in educating our future workforce now.
"A number of my colleagues on the other side of the aisle have proposed to freeze all non-defense spending for the next five years. I understand their concerns about fiscal responsibility and I know their proposals are well-intentioned.
"However, I can think of nothing worse for the health of our economy in the short-term and in the long-term than restricting access to education.
"As we all know, state and local governments around the country have been forced to lay off teachers, cut programs, and reduce the number of children able to participate in early education and after-school programs.
"Education provides access to a better life, and early childhood education sets the foundation upon which later academic success is built.
"If we take the short-sighted approach offered by our Republican colleagues, any small amount of savings we gain today will quickly be overwhelmed by the very real losses to our productivity tomorrow.
"Recognizing this basic fact, businesses both large and small, have made supporting education one of their top priorities for their communities and for Congressand that is certainly true in my state of Massachusetts.
"I represent old industrial cities where public education dollars play a critical role in helping all of our children gain the skills they need to succeed in our knowledge-based economy and in helping newcomers integrate into our American society.
"During the last administration, we failed to properly fund education, particularly for the youngest and most vulnerable among us. But through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we have already begun to reorient our priorities by including funding for Head Start, Early Head Start, and other early education programs.
"The Democratic budget builds upon these investments and helps to strengthen and expand these programs, including proven home-visitation programs.
"These funds are critical because an active federal partner can play a strategic role in concert with local and state partners to keep the education pipeline firm.
"I thank the gentleman from Virginia for engaging with me and I call on my colleagues to support the Democratic budget."