A mom and an advocate for high quality preschool
Like millions of other children across the nation, my son and daughter are heading back to school this month. They are excited to start the fifth and second grade, to see old friends and meet new classmates. It seems like only yesterday that I was dropping them off to kindergarten, feeling both confident and lucky that they were ready to learn and succeed because they had a solid foundation of social and academic skills.
These skills for success were developed several years ago, when they went to a high-quality preschool program. There, they learned their alphabet letters and numbers, as well as skills such as following directions and sharing with their peers. Because of this early learning foundation, years later in elementary school they continue to enter each school year excited and ready to learn.
I wish all children had the same opportunity as my kids to attend a high-quality preschool. Although every child begins school with enormous potential, only some have access to high-quality preschool to help them realize it. Unfortunately, it is often those who need it most that do not have access to attend such programs; thus, they start behind and too often stay behind throughout their school careers.
Luckily, we have a unique chance to change this. Though Congress will face many tough decisions when they return next week, one choice should be easy: offer more children the opportunity to attend a high-quality preschool and early learning programs with the passage of H.R.3221, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2009.
The bill includes a proposal for the Early Learning Challenge Fund, a competitive grant program to help states invest in high-quality early learning programs and improve the quality of their early childhood education systems. The Early Learning Challenge Fund would infuse $8 billion over eight years into early care and education throughout the country. Please join me and other moms to ensure that our representatives in Congress vote for H.R. 3221 when it comes to the House floor.
Additionally, as in many other states, we in California are advocating for the creation of a state Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC), which would coordinate the state’s work in early childhood education. Although new federal funds may be available to assist in these important investments in early care and education, they are contingent upon the creation of such a council, which is currently in the works here in California. These initiatives are all integral components of President Obama’s early learning agenda and his unprecedented investment to support the critical foundation for children’s success in school and in life.
As an advocate, I want to see the millions of vulnerable children realize their potential. As a mom, I want my son and daughter to grow up with other kids who share their love of learning. By raising the quality of our nation’s early childhood education programs and increasing access to them, we can fundamentally change not only our children’s future, but our nation’s as well.