Philadelphia PA- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) and Philadelphia educators pushed for universal pre-k. In the coming weeks the Senate could take up a major revamp of the country’s education system, the Elementary and Secondary Education Reauthorization Act (ESEA). The fate of investments in early learning in the bill remain uncertain. Casey recently introduced a universal pre-k bill, the Prepare All Kids Act.
“Investing in pre-k and early learning helps children learn more now and earn more later,” Senator Casey said. “Making the right investments in early learning is as much about our economy as it is our education system. Universal pre-k will lay down a foundation for long term economic growth that will ensure our nation’s children can compete with any throughout the world for the jobs of the future.”
Long-term scientific research has proven the benefits of investing in early childhood, including investing in high-quality early learning. Children who attend high-quality prekindergarten are more successful in school, more likely to graduate from high school, and more likely to become productive adults who contribute to the U.S. economy. Moreover, research shows that for every dollar invested in high quality prekindergarten, we can save as much as $7 in other costs, including crime, welfare and remedial and special education.
The Prepare All Kids Act will:
- Support states in providing at least one year of voluntary high quality prekindergarten to all children, with an emphasis on children from families with incomes under 200% of the federal poverty level and children with special needs.
- Ensure high quality learning by requiring prekindergarten programs to utilize a research-based curriculum that supports children’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development and individual learning styles.
- Ensure a high quality learning environment by limiting classroom size to a maximum of 20 children and children-to-teacher ratios to no more than 10 to 1.
- Ensure high quality teaching by requiring that prekindergarten teachers have baccalaureate degrees (within 6 years), with support for teacher educational development.
- Provide designated funding for much-needed programs serving infants and toddlers, ages birth through three.
- Meet the needs of children and working parents by providing specific funding that states can use to expand programs to full-day and year-round.
- Support and reinforce the importance of other early childhood programs such as Head Start and child care programs by maintaining existing funding levels for those programs.
- Ensure continued prekindergarten program quality by requiring states to develop and enforce a monitoring plan.
- Support the critical role of parents in the education of their young children by encouraging parental involvement in programs and assisting families in getting the supportive services they may need.