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Letter to Senator Boxer Supporting her Early Language Proficiency Act

February 21, 2012

Dear Senator Boxer:

On behalf of the National Education Association’s 3.2 million members, we are writing to offer our support for the S. 1722 the Early Language Proficiency Act.  We thank you for your leadership in offering this legislation, which would offer an important step forward in giving all children access to high quality pre-kindergarten programs.

NEA has a strong history of promoting early education programs, as it is clear that high quality education before a child turns five yields significant long-term benefits.  Children’s learning begins well before they enter elementary school, and the transition to school must be founded on strong school readiness.  Quality early childhood education is a key predictor of a child's future educational achievement and emotional development.  Children need proper stimulation and education from birth through age six in order to ensure full development and adequate preparation for the rigors of school.  Research shows that children who participate in quality early education programs perform better academically and exhibit better cognitive and social skills—on both a short-term and long-term basis—than similar children who do not participate in such programs.

We are pleased that your bill would allow school districts to use federal funds for pre-kindergarten English language instruction.  We believe such instruction is critical in serving the more than five million English language learning students nationwide.  In addition, we support your proposal to help local school districts use federal funds for prekindergarten services to all young children they serve.  Although school districts may already use federal funds from Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act for early education, many school districts are either unaware of or are uncertain of how to use this authority.  Your bill would ensure that states provide proper guidance to local schools about how to use Title I funds to educate pre-kindergarteners.

We thank you again for your leadership on this important issue.


Kim Anderson        
Director, Center for Advocacy

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations