A few weeks ago, President Obama announced an ambitious agenda for early care and education. This plan would expand access to the high-quality early learning opportunities we know help put children on a path to success!
You know who is excited about this plan? KIDS (and their parents who understand just how important early learning experiences are to their future success)!
Next week, members of the Strong Start for Children – Building America’s Future campaign will be delivering notes to President Obama thanking him for prioritizing the needs of America’s youngest and most vulnerable children. Thank You notes have been pouring into our office and the offices of our campaign partners across the country, and we are getting very excited about getting them to the President. Read more »
Yesterday, the National Institute for Early Education Research released the latest version of its annual report, The State of Preschool 2012, and it contained very discouraging news. Between the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 school years, total state prekindergarten funding fell by $548 million and spending per child dropped by $442 (after adjusting for inflation). Enrollment in state prekindergarten had virtually stalled; as in the previous year, just 28 percent of four-year-olds and 4 percent of three-year-olds were served in state prekindergarten programs in 2011-2012. Only five states (Alabama, Alaska, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Rhode Island) had prekindergarten programs that met all ten of NIEER’s quality standards benchmarks. Ten states—Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming—had no prekindergarten program in 2011-2012 (although just this month, Mississippi approved legislation establishing a prekindergarten program).
Given the importance of prekindergarten in giving children a strong start, clearly more needs to be done to ensure that adequate resources are provided to support prekindergarten, that strong standards are in place to provide children with high-quality learning experiences, and that prekindergarten is widely accessible to children who need it—particularly low- and moderate-income children. Read more »
Millions of parents and children will have a cheerful change from their usual routines today, on Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. It’s a day when children bring a bit more energy to offices around the country with their laughter and little voices. And it’s a day when children get a glimpse of their possible futures. The day is designed to encourage children to think about what work they might like to do when they grow up and about how to get there, and show them that, if they try hard in school, they can become what they want to be.
Take Our Sons and Daughters to Work Day is a special day each year when parents can help their children take one step further on a path to success in school, work, and life. But children’s progress on that path also depends on their experiences all the other days of the year, starting from their earliest years. Children’s futures depend on their daily experiences, which include their experiences in early care and education—experiences that influence children’s growth and learning and readiness for school. Read more »
A number of governors called for significant new investments in early care and education to expand access to high-quality early learning opportunities. Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick said he wanted to "ensure that every child in Massachusetts has access to high-quality early education." Read more »
On Wednesday night, the President’s new Early Learning Initiative got a moment in the spotlight on the Daily Show. Host Jon Stewart, in that way only he knows how, highlighted the importance of investing in children’s early years. My trying to recap the clip will certainly erase all the humor, so I’ll let you watch it for yourself.
Think of life like a marathon (just go with me on this metaphor). Many of America’s most vulnerable children are starting five miles behind everyone else - yet we expect them to finish on par with their peers. Expanding the access these children have to high quality early learning opportunities will be revolutionary. Read more »
This morning I visited a Head Start classroom with NWLC’s Director of Child Care and Early Learning, Helen Blank, and two recognizable guests.
Helen was part of a select group of early childhood advocates invited to join Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as they visited the Judy Center at Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland. Judy Centers are located in or affiliated with elementary school across Maryland and provide a comprehensive set of services for at-risk children birth through age five and their families.
Secretaries Duncan and Sebelius treated the children to a great rendition of “Green Eggs and Ham” and I got to play press photographer. The children seemed to thoroughly enjoy their new storytellers though they were a bit skeptical when Secretary Sebelius tried to use the story to encourage them to try new foods.
“Have you ever tried a food you thought you wouldn’t like and then you liked it?” she asked.
“No,” a little boy responded matter-of-factly. Read more »
On February 19, 2013, the Equity and Excellence Commission, a federal advisory committee, released a report detailing the inequity in the American K-12 educational system and asking the Department of Education to take action. The Equity and Excellence Commission is made up of thought leaders in education such as Russlynn Ali, Michael Rebell, and Randi Weingarten, among many distinguished others. The Commission was responsible for advising the Secretary of Education on the disparities in educational opportunities that give rise to the achievement gap.
And provide advice, they did. The Commission did not pull any punches in its report, For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence. The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human ights lauded the release of the report, stating that “this report confirms what those of us in the civil and human rights community have long known: that our nation’s system of financing and delivering public education is badly broken and in need of a dramatic overhaul.” Read more »
Yesterday, Senate Democrats proposed a plan to postpone across-the-board spending cuts — known inside the beltway as the “sequester” — that are currently scheduled to take effect in just two weeks, on March 1. The bill, called the American Family Economic Protection Act, includes $120 billion of savings — enough to replace the sequester through the end of calendar year 2013.
Unlike the sequester, which reduces the deficit solely through deep spending cuts (on top of earlier spending cuts that are 2.5 times greater than new revenues), the American Family Economic Protection Act achieves savings from an equal amount of revenues and cuts (plus about $10 billion in interest savings). The bill would raise $54 billion over 10 years by adopting the “Buffett rule,” a measure that would ensure very wealthy taxpayers cannot get away with paying taxes at a lower effective rate than middle class families. Those with incomes above $1 million (after subtracting charitable contributions) would be required to pay at least a 30 percent tax rate, with a phase-in for incomes between $1 million and $2 million. An additional $1 billion in revenue would be raised by eliminating an oil industry tax loophole and a tax deduction for businesses that ship jobs overseas.
On the spending side, savings in the bill would come mostly from modest reductions in the overall level of defense spending — which would not begin until FY 2015, when the war in Afghanistan is expected to end – and cuts in agriculture subsidies, especially direct payments to farmers that are currently provided regardless of yields, prices, or farm income.
All in all, this sounds like a reasonable proposal to us — especially compared to the sequester, which would be devastating for many programs that women and their families depend on. Read more »
Yesterday, as President Obama visited an early learning center in Decatur, Georgia, the White House released a fact sheet with more details about the early education proposal the President announced in his State of the Union address. Under the President’s comprehensive plan, the federal government and states would work together to increase access high-quality early learning opportunities for children from birth to age five through expansion of voluntary home visiting programs, prekindergarten, Early Head Start, child care, and full-day kindergarten.
The President proposes to provide funding to states to help them make prekindergarten available to all four-year-olds in families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty ($39,060 a year for a family of three). The federal government would offer incentives for states to provide prekindergarten to middle-income families as well. Prekindergarten programs would have to meet a set of quality standards, including having qualified teachers paid comparably to K-12 teachers, small class sizes and low child-teacher ratios, and comprehensive health and other support services. The programs could be provided in a range of settings, from schools to child care centers to other community-based programs, as is currently the case for many state-funded prekindergarten programs. Read more »
On Tuesday, President Obama laid out an important economic agenda for women and families in his State of the Union address — expanding early education opportunities, advancing fair tax and budget policies, increasing the federal minimum wage, and passing both the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Violence Against Women Act.
This is a full and impressive agenda for President Obama's second term. But we're up for the challenge and we hope you are, too!
Expanding Early Education Opportunities — President Obama's early childhood initiative would expand access to critical early learning opportunities for millions of preschool age and young children across the country. This would help many low- and middle-income women and their families who are struggling to afford the early learning opportunities that put their children on a path to success.
Advancing Fair Tax and Budget Policies — President Obama called on Congress to pass a budget that replaces reckless cuts with smart savings and wise investments in our future. This is especially important to women, because millions of hard-working women are struggling to lift their families out of poverty and cuts in funding for public services have cost women hundreds of thousands of jobs. We also need a tax system that fairly raises the revenue required to make these wise investments and stave off deep cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other programs women and their families count on.