or Login to see your representatives.

Access Candidates' and Representatives' Biographies, Voting Records, Interest Group Ratings, Issue Positions, Public Statements, and Campaign Finances

Simply enter your zip code above to get to all of your candidates and representatives, or enter a name. Then, just click on the person you are interested in, and you can navigate to the categories of information we track for them.

Public Statements

Letter to Kathleen Sebelius and Arne Duncan, US Dept. of Health and Human Services, and Secretary of Education

Letter

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Patty Murray (D-WA), Al Franken (D-MN) and Chris Coons (D-DE) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius urging them to prioritize early learning as they allocate resources from the fiscal year 2011 budget for a competitive grant initiative to states. In the letter, they call on the Secretaries to ensure that there is a separate and distinct competition to strengthen state support for early learning, in a manner that aligns with the approach outlined in the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act, which they jointly support.

"As you plan for this work, we urge you to focus on how best to help states build and strengthen early learning systems, so that low-income children ages zero to five have greater access to high-quality learning and development opportunities that prepare them for success in school and beyond," the letter states.

"Investing in early learning is one of the best investments in education that our Nation can make. Noted economists have shown that an investment in high-quality early childhood education yields an estimated $3 to $17 for every dollar invested."

The Senators are all co-sponsors of Senator Casey's Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act (SSSEL Act), a bill that would establish an Early Learning Challenge Fund to help states build and strengthen systems of early learning, so that more low-income children ages zero to five have access to high-quality early learning and development opportunities that prepare them for success in school and beyond.

The Senators recommend in the letter that the Administration ensure support for an early learning initiative of at least $350 million in a manner that aligns with the SSSEL Act.

A copy of the letter is below:

Dear Secretary Sebelius and Secretary Duncan:

We write to commend you for your leadership in securing resources to initiate competitive grants to states to increase the number of low-income and disadvantaged infants, toddlers and preschoolers in high quality early learning programs and to implement integrated, high-quality early learning systems. As you plan for this work, we urge you to focus on how best to help states build and strengthen early learning systems, so that low-income children ages zero to five have greater access to high-quality learning and development opportunities that prepare them for success in school and beyond.

We are cosponsors of the Supporting State Systems of Early Learning Act (SSSEL Act), which aligns with the Administration's support for an Early Learning Challenge Fund. We believe that the key elements and approach in this bill should drive a free-standing early learning initiative through a separate and distinct competition.
Investing in early learning is one of the best investments in education that our Nation can make. Noted economists have shown that an investment in high-quality early childhood education yields an estimated $3 to $17 for every dollar invested. Research demonstrates that high-quality early education programs help reduce the need for special education and education remediation, lower juvenile justice rates, improve health outcomes, increase high school graduation and college matriculation rates, and increase self-sufficiency and productivity among families. As such, we recommend that the Administration ensure support for an early learning initiative of at least $350 million in a manner that aligns with the SSSEL Act.

As you know, too many American children enter kindergarten without the support and skills necessary to succeed, and the learning gap between these children and their peers only grows with time. The SSSEL Act is designed to encourage states to build a high-quality system of early learning, with a seamless continuum of care that aligns with the K-12 system, so that more American children get a solid start in school. It encourages unification of the various child care and pre-Kindergarten programs funded by the State and Federal government, including Head Start, into an early learning system with a clear governance structure that establishes and implements quality-based standards, measures progress and provides continuous feedback to teachers, providers and parents alike. The proposal promotes the establishment of developmentally appropriate early learning standards, improves the qualifications and effectiveness of the early learning workforce and encourages effective transitions and data sharing between the early learning and K-12 systems.

We also recommend that, as outlined in the SSSEL Act, the initiative:
-Makes funds available on a competitive basis to states that have demonstrated the greatest progress in establishing a system of high-quality early learning (Quality Pathways Grants), as well as states that demonstrate a commitment to building a high-quality system of early learning (Development Grants).
-Gives priority to states that establish public-private partnerships and that leverage federal child care funds for the purposes of the Act.
-Require that states provide a matching rate of 15 percent and an assurance that new funding will supplement, and not supplant, current funding used to support early learning programs.

As you develop the initiative, we urge you to provide a period for public input and comment on the approach that you take.

Thank you for your leadership in providing federal support for early childhood education for at-risk, low-income children. We look forward to continued progress and partnership.

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator

Patty Murray
United States Senator

Al Franken
United States Senator

Christopher Coons
United States Senator


Source:
Back to top