After the President’s State of the Union speech in late February we wrote a blog post that highlighted some of his proposed early learning plans, namely a new emphasis on federal-state collaboration to deliver Pre-K opportunities on a national basis. With the release of his 2014 fiscal year budget, we can now see some of the details that make up his national Pre-K expansion plans.
You can read detailed highlights of the plan here, but some of what’s being proposed includes:
+ Expanding the Administration’s evidence-based home visiting initiative to improve the quality and access to preschool. Under this initiative, states are introducing voluntary programs that call for social workers and other professionals to meet with at-risk families to connect them with assistance related to health and education. This effort is clearly designed to meet the President’s challenge that, “a zip code should never predetermine the quality of any child’s educational opportunities.” As his plan states:
… Studies show that children from low-income families are less likely to have access to high-quality early education, and less likely to enter school prepared for success. By third grade, children from low-income families who are not reading at grade level are six times less likely to graduate from high school than students who are proficient.
+ Funding states to ensure that children are enrolled in high-quality programs. In order for states to qualify for funding, they would have to meet certain quality benchmarks which are linked to better education outcomes, measured by the implementation of comprehensive data and assessment systems. According to the President’s plan:
Preschool programs across the states would meet common and consistent standards for quality across all programs, including:
Well-trained teachers, who are paid comparably to K-12 staff;
Small class sizes and low adult to child ratios;
A rigorous curriculum;
Comprehensive health and related services; and
Effective evaluation and review of programs.
These, along with other plan components, would be part of a $75 billion investment over the course of ten years. This includes $9.6 billion for Head Start, $15 billion for home visitation initiatives, and $1.4 billion for grants designed to bridge the gap between Early Head Start programs and child care providers. This funding would come from tax increases on the tobacco industry and cigarette sales.
As more details emerge, we’ll share them. We’d love to hear your thoughts on the President’s plan, so drop a comment below and tell us what you think.