Education Week Focuses On Federal Early Childhood Proposals
Oct 04, 2007
An article in this week's edition of Education Week (free registration required) discusses three preschool bills that have been put forward in Congress. Legislation proposed separately by Sen. Clinton (D-NY), Sen. Casey (D-PA), and Rep. Hirono (D-Hawaii), would authorize varying sums of money to expand state pre-kindergarten programs, the vast majority of which serve primarily 4-year-olds.
CLASP is concerned that a federal preschool bill would draw attention and resources away from the full range of birth to five early childhood programs that many states are currently investing in, as well as away from existing federal early childhood programs, including Head Start and child care subsidies, that have been severely underfunded for years. Quoted from the article:
We have a federal preschool program, and it s called Head Start, said Danielle Ewen, the director of child-care and early-education policy at the Center for Law and Social Policy, based in Washington. And Head Start only serves half of the eligible kids.
She added that she was disappointed that following Speaker Pelosi s May summit meeting which Ms. Ewen described as a wonderful day of science that focused on the comprehensive needs of children from birth through age 5 most of the proposals being offered focus only on preschoolers.
The message from the summit was invest early, Ms. Ewen said. A 4-year-old program doesn t do that.
The preschool debate at the federal level is being linked to No Child Left Behind (NCLB), or the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). CLASP's research in this area, however, reveals that school districts already have the ability to fund preschool programs through Title I of NCLB and districts are taking advantage of that flexibility:
Ms. Ewen of the Center for Law and Social Policy pointed to school districts existing option to use Title I money to serve young children, either in classroom-based pre-K programs or through other approaches, such as home visits or health screenings. Integrating preschool into the NCLB law, she warned, could imply that those funds should be used only for 3- and 4-year-olds.