Katherine Clark called for significant increases in early education and child care funding and to put an end to the budget cuts from the sequester that are kicking students out of their Head Start classrooms and hurting families. As part of her Pledge to Women and Families, Katherine will go to Washington to lead the charge to increase early education funding, which studies show can make a huge difference for our children.
State Senator Katherine Clark joined Cambridge State Representative and City Councilor Marjorie Decker on Tuesday to tour Head Start in Cambridge as devastating sequestration cuts implemented by extremist Republicans in Congress mean that the Head Start classrooms will not be able to open until Sept. 23.
"Education is the great equalizer in America. A family's ability to access top quality schools and childcare should not depend on their income or their zip code," Clark said. "When a working family can't depend on their childcare, it makes it difficult to keep a job and make ends meet. And when our kids aren't learning because of budget cuts, we're shortchanging our future."
Katherine has spent her entire career fighting for access to quality, affordable education and childcare for all families, and as state senator authored landmark legislation to ensure that Massachusetts students are reading at grade level by third grade.
Economists, educators, business leaders and law enforcement officials agree that funding early education is one of the best investments we can make, as studies show that students who read at grade level by third grade are more likely to graduate high school and achieve prosperity as adults. But extremist Republicans in Congress continue to prioritize draconian budget cuts over investing in our long term future. In Washington, Katherine would push to restore sequestration cuts that are kicking more than 2,000 Massachusetts students out of Head Start classes and taking $14 million away from 7,600 special education students.
"Investing in early education is our chance to give children the best possible start in life," said Decker, a Cambridge Democrat who attended Head Start as a child. "All of the research shows that the first five years of life are the most critical to brain development. I am supporting Katherine Clark because I know that as a mom and as a public servant with a longstanding commitment to education, we can count on Katherine to continue to fight for all of our children and families in Congress."
As a legislator, School Committee member, and General Counsel for the Office of Child Care Services, Katherine has advocated for quality, affordable public education and childcare throughout her career. As a mom of three boys in public school, Katherine knows the importance of public education and investments in early education and special education firsthand.
"My youngest son had a serious speech delay," Katherine explained. "But through an early intervention program, he was able to overcome this issue and no longer needed services by the time he was in first grade. I don't need to look any further than across my kitchen table to know that these investments work."
In addition to combatting sequestration in Congress, Katherine would fight extremist Republicans blocking President Barack Obama's agenda for early education, which includes preschool for all, the creation of an Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership, and the expansion of an initiative to get child development professionals to make home visits to meet with at-risk families.
"Washington is broken because extremist Republicans care more about turning the clock back on women's rights and slashing vital programs than they do about investing in our nation's future," Clark said. "The time is now to get kids back in their classrooms by restoring funding for Head Start and other early education programs. Progress for our children and our families can't wait."
On top of her 2012 reading law, Katherine has built a long record of standing up for education. In the State Legislature, Katherine has championed the effort to increase school funding for cities and towns and her advocacy was integral to securing $61 million for special education. Katherine has led efforts to create a safer and more supportive learning environment, study grade retention, implement media literacy programs, and ensure that the health curriculum is medically accurate and age appropriate. Katherine has earned awards from the Citizens for Public Schools, Massachusetts Association of School Committees, and Children's Trust Fund.