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ImageCasey’s Universal Pre-K Advances in Senate
NCLR LaRaza Endorses Need of “Strong Start”
J.Smith/El Hispano
Philadelphia – “The circumstances of your birth
should never determine,” whether you have an
opportunity to learn,” said Senator Bob Casey
(D-Pa.), as he unveiled an early Christmas gift with Universal Pre-K
legislation that he says is imperative for
America’s future economic “competitiveness.”
Characterizing the proposal as a ‘milestone”
and “moral obligation,” that eventually would
spur “economic growth,” Sen. Casey noted that
it has strong support from both education
advocates and the CEOs of the nation’s leading
businesses.
“The “Strong Start for America’s Children
Act,” has four principal componenets:
including, encouraging continued support for
the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home
(MIECHV) program; increased funding for high-
quality preschool programs serving low and
moderate-income families; and supporting
broad-scale quality improvements to child care
programs.
Stressing that the proposal was a ‘moral
obligation,” Sen. Casey argued that, “The light
in every child should burn as brightly,” as
possible.
An advocate for universal pre-k for nearly a
decade, Sen. Casey praised President Obama’s
“leadership” on the issue, and suggested there
is “irrefutable” evidence that early-learning
programs have a “substantial impact” on our
nation’s economic performance.
The Pennsylvania Senator’s staff offered
data to bolster his argument, specifically
showing that from 2011-2012, Pennsylvania’s
Pre-k program served just 11,380 children, or
four percent of all preschool children in the
state.
According to the National Council of LaRaza
(NCLR), “Access to high-quality early education
leads to high cognitive and social skills.
Moreover, Hispanic children today comprise 24
percent of the nation’s children under age
five, but only half are enrolled in a center-
based program.”
In addition, NCLR notes that, “by age five,
English-proficient Latino children are about 3
months behind white children in Pre-reading
skills, 5 months behind in Math.
Steve Barnett, a New Jersey education
official, said that their limited Universal
Pre-k program -serving low-income families- has
achieved “pretty strong increases in language,
literacy and mathematics through fifth grade,”
and “substantial decreases in grade repetition
and the (need) for special education.”
Mindy Binderman, an Executive with the
GEEAR Early Learning program in Georgia, says
that “flexibility and partnering” with local
education officials are crucial to the success
of Universal Pre-K.

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