House Bill Creates Billions for Early Childhood Education
By Brian Washington
You may have heard that the U.S. House of Representatives—including Representatives Carol Shea-Porter (NH-D), Harry Teague (NM-D), and Frank Kratovil (MD-D)—has voted to approve the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA).
You may also have heard that the bill would make a landmark investment in higher education to ensure that college loans are more affordable for families and more students graduate from institutions of higher learning.
But did you know SAFRA is also designed to bolster early childhood education in this country so students can arrive at school with the skills they need to learn and succeed?
It’s true. Under the bill approved in the House last month, SAFRA would invest $1 billion each year—over the next eight years—to build what lawmakers call “comprehensive, high quality, early learning systems” for children from birth to age five.
“Early childhood education programs provide our children with the tools they need in order to succeed later in life,” said Rep. Shea-Porter. “I am pleased that the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act provides funding for these important programs.”
“Investments in early childhood education are critical to the success of our youngest students in New Mexico,” said Rep. Teague. “The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act makes historic investments in early childhood education that will give more children access to kindergarten and help them learn the tools they need to succeed in school.”
SAFRA, also known as H.R. 3221, would establish the Early Learning Challenge Fund. The fund would award grants to states that improve early education standards and practices, build an effective early childhood workforce, and improve the school readiness outcomes of young children.
“Today’s students will be the foundation of tomorrow’s economy; we need to make sure they have the necessary tools--and that starts with early childhood education,” said Rep. Kratovil.
NEA supports the House version of the bill—especially the provisions of the legislation that would do the following:
· Build an effective, qualified, and well-compensated early childhood workforce by supporting providers with degrees in early education and providing ongoing professional development opportunities; and
· Promote parent and family involvement by developing effective outreach strategies.
The Association also likes that the bill rejects any assessments of young children as a means of evaluating program effectiveness.
You can view how your representative voted by using the following link: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll719.xml.
Call your representative and thank them for passing SAFRA and urge them to include these reforms in the final version of the bill.