The future of early childhood education is gaining attention as Representative Dan Maffei and local advocates gathered in Syracuse Monday to show support for president Obama’s early learning initiative.
The president’s plan includes more pre-k funding, head start support, and home visits (details below). Maffei agrees with the president that this is an issue that must not be overlooked any longer...
“It’s so much the right thing that the president has now made this front and center of his agenda for the second term. His words in the state of the union address got one of the biggest applause lines.”
Maffei says that early childhood education is a crucial aspect of children’s development and taking the time to invest money now is a smart investment in the future.
LOCAL EXPERTS AGREE
Child Care Solution’s Peggy Liuzzi is happy to see all levels of government showing more interest...
“Problems are starting to rise to the top. There’s certainly been an incredible amount of reportage around the research that shows how important the early years are to young children. It’s getting through to parents, and we’re really excited to have leadership at the federal that reflects what’s happening at the state and community level. The time is right to see some progress on early childhood.”
Liuzzi offers some local context for the impacts child education and development might have:
"We know that too many children in America and New York and Syracuse and Auburn, and other communities like ours, are in trouble. Here are just a few data points that quantify these concerns:
- By age 2, poor children are already behind their peers in listening, counting, and other skills essential to literacy. A child’s vocabulary as early as age 3 can predict 3rd grade reading achievement.
- In NYS’s Big 5 School Districts only 47% of children are reading at grade level at the end of 3rd grade. In the Syracuse District, that number is only 25%.
- In NYS only 72% of high school students graduate on time. In Syracuse City schools that number is 53%.
- When children don’t succeed, there’s a toll on communities. The NYS DOL estimates that by 2018, 63% of all jobs in NY will require post-secondary education. In NY, even in the midst of the recession, 11% of high school dropouts were jobless vs. only 6% of college graduates. 14 of the fastest growing occupations in NYS require post-secondary education.
"High-quality early care and education can even the playing field for young children, but access to high-quality programs is limited in CNY and throughout the country."
OBAMA'S EARLY EDUCATION INITIATIVE
Here are the highlights (Summary prepared by the National Association for the Education of Young Children):
New Pre-K Proposal is a substantial investment – this proposal has two parts:
o Preschool for All grants ($75 billion* over the next ten years) would be funded by a federal-state funding partnership with the federal amount generated by a new cigarette tax.
o Preschool Development grants ($750 million in competitive, discretionary funds for fiscal year 2014) would help states that are not yet ready for the Preschool for All grants but are willing to make a commitment to high-quality, universally available pre-K.
Early Head Start and New Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships also would be a significant investment– $1.4 billion increase to expand Early Head Start and create Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships to create a greater supply of high-quality early care and development for children birth through age three.
Home Visiting – would be expanded by $15 billion* over the next ten years with a portion of the cigarette tax.
Head Start – $200 million increase for cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA) and redesignation costs.
Child Care & Development Block Grant – $500 million increase in mandatory funds and another $200 million increase in discretionary dollars to improve quality, including health and safety.
Part C Special Education – $20 million increase in discretionary funds to expand Part C early intervention services.
Promise Neighborhoods – $300 million increase to help low-income communities invest in a range of services to help children and families.
Next step: The President’s budget proposal for early learning must be adopted by Congress to become a reality.