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Democrats for Education Reform Endorses Bipartisan Miller-Harkin-Hanna Early Childhood Education Bill

Contact:

Charles Barone | 202.674.3020 | CharlesBarone@dfer.org
Devin Boyle | 202.445.0416 | Devin@dfer.org

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Democrats for Education Reform Endorses Bipartisan Miller-Harkin-Hanna Early Childhood Education Bill

Democrats for Education Reform (DFER) would like to express its strong support for the Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013 (SSAC) scheduled to be introduced today by Senate Education Committee Chair Tom Harkin (D-IA), Ranking House Democratic Education Committee Member George Miller (D-CA), and Representative Richard Hanna (R-NY). The bill seeks to substantially expand children’s access to vital, high-quality pre-K education programs.

“High-quality, early childhood education is one of the wisest investments we can make in our children’s futures,” said Charles Barone, policy director for DFER. “We especially commend Representatives Miller and Hanna for placing such great emphasis on program quality and making a wide variety of providers eligible for funding.”

The proposed legislation would create a new formula grant program to distribute funding from the federal government to states. States would then have the ability to issue sub-grants to school districts, public charter schools, childcare centers, and nonprofit organizations.

The quality of the grant proposals would be determined by a host of factors, including the alignment of child learning standards to existing ones in the K-12 public school system; connections to quality kindergarten programs; and, the presence of a longitudinal data system capable of tracking students from pre-K all the way through high school. SSAC also safeguards program quality by requiring that all pre-K teachers hold at least a bachelor’s degree in a relevant field and all students be administered age-appropriate learning assessments.

The bipartisan bill follows through on a call to action by President Barack Obama, who first proposed a “Preschool for All” program during his 2013 State of the Union Address. Rep. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, has yet to announce plans to mark up the bill in committee.

Democrats for Education Reform applauds Representative Miller, Representative Hanna, and Senator Harkin for their leadership and commitment to equal educational opportunity for all of America’s students. We strongly urge Congress to adopt this legislation and put our nation’s children on a solid path to success.