This week, the House Education and Labor Committee convened a hearing to examine the Biden Administration’s fiscal year (FY) 2022 Department of Education budget request and to discuss how the American Families Plan and the Department’s policy priorities would help to restore some of the challenges that arose in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The hearing also highlighted how the Administration plans to build on progress to provide access to quality educational opportunities for all families, including early learning and care.
In his opening remarks, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona underscored the importance of “providing a strong foundation from birth.” He touted the inclusion of a new Title I Equity Grants program which could be used to expand access to preschool and emphasized the proposed increase to the Preschool Development Grants program in the Administration’s FY22 budget request.
While much of the hearing was focused outside the scope of early learning and care, Representative Sablan (D-N. Mariana Islands), Chairman of the House Education and Labor Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary and Secondary Education, spoke pointedly about the importance of early childhood education, noting that studies indicate that “children in preschool are more academically and socially prepared for kindergarten than their peers who did not attend.” Rep. Sablan asked the Secretary to expand upon how the proposals in the American Families Plan (AFP) will benefit children and families across the country.
In response, the Secretary spoke to his own experience serving as a principal, noting the disparities he saw between students at his school entering kindergarten who had access to quality early learning programs and those who did not. He shared that many of the students who did not have access to these programs required greater interventions. Additionally, he built on Rep. Sablan’s emphasis on the research around the importance of access to quality early learning programs, noting “studies show those students are able to have more success in middle and high school, they’re more likely to attend and participate in higher-level courses, and we know that the return on investment, some studies have it, as 7:1.”
You can find more information about the Biden Administration’s FY2022 funding proposal for key early learning programs here.