U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), today, unveiled a major education proposal that works to provide at least one year of high quality pre-kindergarten to children in Pennsylvania and across the nation. Since 2007, Senator Casey has made access to pre-K education one of his top priorities. In each Congress, Senator Casey has introduced initiatives to advance the goal of universal pre-K and has advocated for increased investment in early learning.
"One of the most important steps we can take for our economy and our children is to invest in early education," Senator Casey said. "Having at least one year of pre-K will better prepare our children in an increasingly competitive global economy. Every child deserves a chance to develop their talents, and a year of pre-K is essential to doing that."
During the State of the Union address, President Obama called for an early learning initiative. Senator Casey's plan would create a partnership between the states and federal government on pre-K education for children.
Long-term scientific research has proven the benefits of early childhood investments. Compared to children who attend high quality preschool, those who do not attend such programs are five times more likely to be chronic law-breakers as adults and more likely to abuse illegal drugs. Children who attend high quality preschool are more successful in school, more likely to graduate from high school, and thus more likely to become productive adults who contribute to the U.S. economy. Moreover, research shows that for every dollar invested in high quality pre-kindergarten, we can save as much as $7 in other costs, including crime, welfare and remedial and special education.
The Prepare All Kids Act will:
Provide at least one year of voluntary high quality prekindergarten, with a focus on children from low income families and children with special needs.
Ensure high quality learning by requiring prekindergarten programs to utilize a research-based curriculum that supports children's cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and individual learning styles.
Ensure a high quality learning environment by limiting classroom size to a maximum of 20 children and children-to-teacher ratios to no more than 10 to 1.
Ensure high quality teaching by requiring that prekindergarten teachers have baccalaureate degrees (within 6 years), with support for teacher educational development.
Provide designated funding for much-needed programs serving infants and toddlers, ages birth through three.
Meet the needs of children and working parents by providing specific funding that states can use to expand programs to full-day and year-round.
Support and reinforce the importance of other early childhood programs such as Head Start and child care programs by maintaining existing funding levels for those programs.
Ensure continued prekindergarten program quality by requiring states to develop and enforce a monitoring plan.
Support the critical role of parents in the education of their young children by encouraging parental involvement in programs and assisting families in getting the supportive services they may need.