The reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) has been a topic of discussion and debate for a decade – and today, the U.S. House of Representatives took an important first step in the process by debating their proposal. The House just adopted one early childhood education amendment to ESEA from Rep. Mark DeSaulnier, and will soon vote on two other amendments critical to our most at-risk families.
“We commend Congress for adopting Rep. DeSaulnier’s amendment, but our work is far from over,” said FFYF Executive Director Kris Perry. “An investment in early childhood education is one that will pay dividends for generations to come. We hope Congress will take this opportunity to continue to act in favor of our nation’s children and families.”
The adopted amendment proposed by Rep. Mark DeSaulnier would require districts to enter into written agreements with Head Start and other agencies they work with to provide early education. As the House debates and votes on two other early childhood education amendments to ESEA, we urge leaders on both sides of the aisle to recognize this important opportunity to incorporate early childhood education in a bigger way. If we don’t do more for children in the early years, we’ll never achieve the goals of ESEA.
The First Five Years Fund strongly supports including a dedicated funding stream in the reauthorization of ESEA to support quality early childhood learning programs. While these amendments don’t fulfill that request, they do represent an important mark of progress. Congress should seize the momentum, led by states like Alabama and Michigan, New York and Washington, to prioritize investments in early childhood education.
We are pleased that leaders in Congress are acknowledging the need to better integrate early learning into ESEA. Local districts and states, 36 of which applied for preschool development grants in 2014, are recognizing that they can’t meet the ultimate goal of ESEA – preparing students for success in college and career – unless they focus on the earliest years of a child’s development. We must support our state and local leadership in their effort to meet and exceed ESEA requirements by providing a stronger federal partnership.
The two remaining early childhood education amendments up for debate and are:
- Meng Amendment – Authorizes the Secretary of Education to provide grants for early childhood education scholarships, professional development and licensing credentials, or increased compensation for educators who have attained specific qualifications.
- Clark Amendment – Clarifies that early childhood education-focused professional development is an acceptable use of funds.
About the First Five Years Fund
The First Five Years Fund helps America achieve better results in education, health and economic productivity through investments in quality early childhood education programs for disadvantaged children. FFYF provides knowledge, data, and advocacy – persuading federal policymakers to make investments in the first five years of a child’s life that create greater returns for all.