Yesterday, nearly 50 advocacy organizations from across the country signed a joint letter in response to the United States Department of Education’s (ED) Request for Feedback on Guidance for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Many provisions of the new law articulate early learning as an allowable use of funds, while passing authority to states and districts to determine the best use of these funds in their communities.
Since the law explicitly calls out early learning as a means for achieving the primary goal of college and career readiness for all students, advocates highlighted specific opportunities for ED to provide non-regulatory, evidence-based guidance to expand early learning. These recommendations include ensuring stakeholder engagement is inclusive of diverse early childhood educators and experts; clarifying and elevating professional development and principal support and training; and enhancing coordination and alignment of early learning and kindergarten through 3rd grade programs.
National, state and local advocacy organizations all concurred on the messages put forth in this letter. The range of organizations that agree with the recommendations outlined demonstrates what voters have already shown us: early learning is a winning issue we can all agree is a national, state and local priority.