On Friday, I travelled to Pottstown to meet with local parents and community and business leaders to talk about the Pottstown Early Action for Kindergarten Readiness (PEAK) initiative. PEAK is a unique public-private partnership that members of the community launched in 2006 to ensure that every child enters kindergarten ready to learn. Roberto J. Rodriguez, Special Assistant to President Obama for Education, joined me for the visit.
The passion expressed by everyone involved was striking. By drawing upon all members of the community – public and private sector-alike – to enhance early learning opportunities, PEAK is really making a difference for Pottstown’s youngest citizens.
One of the most striking moments of the discussion was when PEAK parent, Christine Russell, talked about the difference the program has made in her son’s life. Christine was alerted that her son had a developmental disability long before most children are diagnosed with this particular condition because of the keen perception and intervention of her son’s teachers. Because of this, she was able to get her son the help he needed while he was still very young, which has allowed him to stay enrolled in the mainstream curriculum.
Early learning must be a priority not just in states but in Washington. I believe that we can’t be the nation we want to be without ensuring every child in this country gets a good start in life. That is why I have introduced legislation to increase access to high-quality pre-k education and increase the availability of high-quality and affordable child care, including:
- The Prepare All Kids Act (S. 839) – to provide more children, especially those from low-income families, with access to high-quality pre-k education;
- The Starting Early, Starting Right Act (S. 1000) – to help more families afford child care and improve care quality; and,
- The Child Care Facilities Financing Act of 2009 (S. 1002) – to provide funding to build high-quality child care facilities tailored to meet the needs of our youngest citizens.
These types of investments in early learning opportunities would not only help children, they would also improve our economy by strengthening our workforce, our productivity and our competitiveness.
I look forward to working with Roberto and others from the Administration as well as my Congressional colleagues, to ensure that early learning opportunities are expanded and strengthened – so that we can grow upon the good work being done in communities like Pottstown.