Continuum of Learning Act Reintroduced
Feb 21, 2013
While the excitement around President Obama's new Early Learning Initiative was making headlines last week, Representatives Polis (D-CO) and Young (R-AK) reintroduced the bipartisan Continuum of Learning Act. The legislation, which is complementary to the President's initiative, would strengthen the connections between early childhood programs, local education agencies, and elementary schools by making changes to Titles I and II of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). Title I provides financial assistance to states and school districts to meet the needs of educationally at-risk students, while Title II addresses preparing, training and recruiting high quality teachers and principals.
While current law permits school districts to use ESEA funds for children from birth through school-entry, this legislative proposal would more intentionally encourage districts to use funds in ways that increase the availability of high quality child care and early education. Further, it would require districts to provide information on how they use funds to support quality early education. Among other provisions, the Act for the first time would require local educational agencies to report on how Title I funds are being used for children prior to school entry, something CLASP has long advocated. This change in reporting would ultimately give the local early childhood community needed information to understand where the most vulnerable children are being served and to work with schools and school districts to combine funding to increase the availability of high quality child care and early education.
Finally, the Act encourages states to take a leadership role in promoting districts' use of Title I dollars for early childhood programming, in coordination with local early childhood stakeholders. CLASP's research finds that this can be an effective way of leveraging the financing needed to provide high quality full-day and year opportunities for children before the age of school entry. Coordination at this level is critical to the President's Early Learning Initiative, which builds on current state and district preschool funding.
As more details of the President's Early Learning Initiative unfold and the Continuum of Learning Act makes its way through Congress, CLASP will continue to advocate for these and other policies that increase access to high-quality programs and services for children beginning at birth.