Reps. Pocan, Honda and Sens. Hirono, Baldwin Champion Initiative to Expand Access to Early Education
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Mike Honda (D-CA), along with U.S. Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), today introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The PRE-K Act helps more kids arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing federal-state partnerships, incentivizing states to both improve the quality of state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need.
“High-quality early education is essential to a student’s long-term academic success,” said Rep. Mark Pocan. “The PRE-K Act will encourage states to make critical investments in our nation’s future and provide better preschool opportunities for children. Improving educational outcomes depends on reaching children early to ensure kids are prepared to succeed.”
“The Pre-K Act makes critical investments in our nation’s early-education programs,” Rep. Mike Honda said. “The matching grants for Pre-K programs and certification requirements for Pre-K teachers are sensible steps to improve our early education system. These steps are a key component of the Equity and Excellence Commission’s recommendations for tackling the inequity problem in our schools, and I am excited to sponsor legislation that translates those recommendations into action. We need to keep working to ensure that each and every child gets an excellent education, starting as early as possible.”
“The investments we make in our youngest keiki are paid back in full by enhancing our nation’s competitiveness in our global economy,” said Senator Hirono. “Hawaii educators have told me that many kids start kindergarten already behind. Our children deserve the best chance to succeed and our educators need all the tools we can give them to put students on track to being lifelong learners. That’s why, beginning when I was Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor 20 years ago, I have been committed to quality early learning to help kids start kindergarten ready to succeed. Where you live should not determine what chance you get in life, and this bill will ensure states like Hawaii can create effective, quality state preschool programs. This bill focuses on quality because it is what makes the biggest difference in educational outcomes. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate and moving this bill forward.”
“Throughout our history, Wisconsin has made real investments in early childhood education because we understand that a strong start helps build a strong middle class. Our nation must make it a priority to invest in early education for all, so that the doors of opportunity are open to every child and help provide them the skills they need to realize their dreams,” said Senator Baldwin. “I’m proud to join this effort to renew our commitment to the proven foundation we know that early childhood education provides. This is a critical investment for our middle class and for our future.”
A recent White House report summarizes what decades of research has shown: high quality early learning yields over $8 for every $1 invested, by helping kids learn to read at grade level, stay in school, avoid crime, get good jobs, and pay taxes. The PRE-K Act creates a new federal-state partnership to improve and expand state preschool programs to serve more children in need. States that already have a high-quality preschool program could get grants to expand and serve more children. Other states with small or newer programs could apply for startup funds if they submit a plan to establish a high-quality preschool program within two years. PRE-K Act funds could help states hire and train early educators; expand preschool days and hours; or provide comprehensive services such as health screenings and meals.
The PRE-K Act was introduced with the following original House and Senate cosponsors: Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Rep. David Price (D-NC), and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA); Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).