Investing in our children's future
Education is the great equalizer. We should be investing more into our children's future. Every family should have access to high quality early education, great public schools, and affordable college. I have used my seat on the Committee on Education and Labor to advocate for major reform to the flawed No Child Left Behind law, and to increase Pell Grants and loan forgiveness for college students and graduates. I introduced the PRE-K Act to provide increased federal funds for high quality preschool, and am working with Congressional leaders to get it signed into law.
* Early Education: I am a champion of early education. Research shows that the social and educational development that occurs in preschool is highly correlated with greater academic success in adolescence and young adulthood. Youth who have access to high quality early education are more likely to graduate from high school, enroll in college and find gainful employment. They are less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system or rely on public assistance as adults.
* PRE-K Act: The Providing Resources Early for Kids Act of 2008 (PRE-K Act) would establish a federal grant program to encourage and support state efforts to provide high quality preschool opportunities for our children. Since the goal is for children to have access to quality pre-school programs, grant funds can be used to invest in the professional development of preschool teachers and provide more classroom access and opportunities for children, among other uses. To qualify for these grants, states must meet minimum quality requirements.
As states move toward providing access to preschool, it is in the nation's best interest to ensure that these pre-k programs are of high quality, where children truly are learning and preparing for school. This bill's focus on quality does just that by supporting, not supplanting, state's efforts to provide quality programs.
PRE-K Act facts:
* I introduced the PRE-K Act in 2007
* Chairman George Miller of the House Committee on Education and Labor asked me to take the lead on this important issue
* There are 120 cosponsors of this bill
* The bill passed out of the House Education Committee with a vote of 31-11 (including 5 Republicans in favor) on June 26, 2008
* This is my first bill to be marked up in committee
* No Child Left Behind: While I am in support of increased accountability, we need to address many of the harmful flaws in the current NCLB law. We also need to fully fund any federal education policy, so that our school reform is properly supported. We also need to move away from our reliance on high-stakes testing. I am in favor of using growth models to track the performance of students from year to year, allowing teachers and parents to work together to support student learning.
* Teacher Quality: To provide all of our children with a high quality education that will better prepare them for success in school and in life, we must ensure that there is a qualified, caring, competent teacher in every classroom, particularly in the early years.