Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Center for American Progress, American Federation of Teachers Applaud Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s Focus on Improving Access to Early Childhood Education as Part of ESEA Reauthorization
Press Release

RELEASE: Center for American Progress, American Federation of Teachers Applaud Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s Focus on Improving Access to Early Childhood Education as Part of ESEA Reauthorization

Earlier this week, CAP, AFT joined education advocates to unveil proposal to include new title for high-quality early education in ESEA.

Washington, D.C. — Following the release of a new proposal to include a new title for high-quality early education in a reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA, the Center for American Progress and the American Federation of Teachers today applauded U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s focus on ensuring that all children have access to such programs. Today, Secretary Duncan visited Patrick Henry Elementary School to underscore the importance of high-quality preschool and early learning.

“Preparing our children for college and career readiness starts in the earliest years. High-quality early childhood education is truly the great equalizer—and critical for success in the K-12 years and beyond—but today, only 28 percent of four-year-olds are getting access to state preschool programs,” said Carmel Martin, Executive Vice President for Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Investing in early childhood education is a common-sense step that has won support from Democratic and Republican policymakers across the country, along with those in the business, military, and law-enforcement communities. As Secretary Duncan highlighted today, with reauthorization of the ESEA at hand, now is the time for Congress to take action and invest in our kids.”

“We may not agree all the time on all the issues, but it’s good to see members of Congress and Secretary Duncan embrace the importance of early childhood education. Its value is clear: Early childhood education helps ensure kids, especially poor kids, have a strong start,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “And it yields a strong return on the investment. The reauthorization of ESEA should include a new title on early childhood education that would keep fewer poor children from falling through the cracks.”

Earlier this week, a coalition including Center for American Progress, the American Federation of Teachers, the Children’s Defense Fund, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Education Association, and the National Center on Learning Disabilities unveiled a proposal for adding a new title to ESEA to expand preschool, invest in high-quality early childhood education, and make full-day kindergarten more widely available for families. The coalition’s proposed new title of ESEA would expand access to preschool for the nation’s poorest children, using a federal-state cost-sharing partnership as states ramp up their programs.

The proposal would provide for coordination and collaboration between early childhood providers and schools, ensuring that providers and districts work with school principals to ensure coordination of services and alignment of standards, and put in place quality benchmarks and learning standards to ensure quality for children and families and to maximize taxpayer investment.

The proposal advocates for developing a highly qualified workforce, expanding access for infants and toddlers, and expanding programs to cover a full day of learning both in preschool and kindergarten. The coalition proposes funding this important program by closing corporate tax loopholes—a proposal that has received support from congressional Democrats and Republicans alike. Click here to read “A Plan to Expand Preschool in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.”

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Allison Preiss at [email protected] or 202.478.6331. To speak with an AFT expert, contact Kate Childs Graham at [email protected] or 202.393.6354.