U.S. Reps. Allyson Y. Schwartz (PA-13) and Carolyn B. Maloney (NY-12) highlighted a new national survey today showing overwhelming support for ensuring that children have the knowledge and skills needed to begin kindergarten on strong footing. A majority of voters -- 70 percent -- said more should be done to prepare America's children for success in school and life, with 86 percent saying this is a national priority, second only to creating jobs and strengthening economic growth.
The survey was commissioned by the First Five Years Fund, a nonprofit that advocates for, and supports, early childhood education. Click here to read the results.
Schwartz and Maloney said the study underscores the need for Congress to pass the Prepare All Kids Act (H.R. 1368), legislation they introduced in March to expand access to pre-K education nationwide. The bill will help states provide at least one year of voluntary, high-quality prekindergarten to all children throughout the nation. U.S. Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) introduced companion legislation in the Senate on March 6, 2013.
"Study after study shows that the earlier a child starts learning, the better chance for success he or she has later in school and in life," Congresswoman Schwartz said. "We know high-quality early education works, and this study shows that it is a top priority for the vast majority of voters across the political spectrum. We must make education a priority to ensure that we have a strong middle class and a skilled workforce to compete in the global economy. The Prepare All Kids Act I introduced with Rep. Maloney will help us achieve that goal."
Congresswoman Maloney said, "This poll re-affirms that parents and teachers understand the value of quality pre-Kindergarten education. Too many families struggle to afford childcare, and children without access to early education feel these effects years later with lower high school graduation rates and diminished earnings. I'm proud to have introduced the Prepare All Kids Act with Rep. Schwartz because this bill invests in our future leaders and helps working families."
"Helping states expand access to one year of pre-K is an important step to provide parents with the birth to five early education their children need for a strong start in school and life," said Kris Perry, executive director of the First Five Years Fund. "We know that investing in high-quality early childhood education, starting at birth, provides significant economic and social returns for not only children and families, but for communities as a whole. I commend Reps. Schwartz and Maloney for their commitment to early childhood education."
The poll, conducted by the bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Hart Research, found that seven-in-10 voters support a federal plan to help states and local communities provide better early childhood education programs to low- and middle-income families without increasing the debt. This drew strong majorities of support among Republicans (60 percent), Independents (64 percent) and Democrats (84 percent).
The study found that the vast majority of voters believe parents need help with early childhood development.
- 89 percent say it is important to make early education and childcare more affordable for working families to give children a strong start.
- 86 percent want the federal government to help states and local communities build better preschool services and make them more accessible to children from low- and middle-income families.
Support for the Prepare All Kids Act:
The Prepare All Kids Act is supported by the National Women's Law Center, the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the First Focus Campaign for Children, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC) and the Delaware Valley Association for the Education of Young Children.
Prepare All Kids Act Summary:
- 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, from birth through 3.
- 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.
The First Five Years Fund is a leading national early childhood education advocacy organization whose mission is to create a smarter, stronger, healthier, and more productive America through high-quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children from birth through age 5. Recently, FFYF and other state and national groups launched the Grow America Stronger campaign, which is working to increase federal investments in early childhood education.