Create a fund for states or districts that prompts improvements throughout the early years of children's education, from pre-kindergarten to third grade. Reward states for creating high-quality early education systems. Include pre-K teachers in professional development programs. Improve data collection to include the years before kindergarten entry.
These are just a few of the recommendations delivered to the Committee on Education and Labor in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday to provide input on reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the federal law that dictates a great deal of what happens in American public schools.
Thirteen education and research groups submitted the letter after arriving at consensus around several ideas on how to improve federal policy in the primary years of public education. The ideas derived from and built upon individual groups' testimony in front of the U.S. Department of Education on January 29th, as well as from several months of working group meetings and calls led by the Early Education Initiative here at New America.
The groups signing on included:
- Association for Children of New Jersey
- The Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL)
- Children’s Defense Fund
- First Focus Campaign for Children
- Foundation for Child Development
- Generations United
- Montgomery County Public School
- National Black Child Development Institute
- National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education (NAECS-SDE)
- National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE)
- New America Foundation
- Pre-K Now, a Campaign of the Pew Center of the States
- Voices for America’s Children
Other groups have expressed strong interest in the letter and have made plans to discuss it with constituents or members that may comprise their groups.
The letter includes recommendations in five areas: funding, teacher and principal quality and development, data collection, accountability and assessment, and expanded learning time. You can download a PDF of the letter here.
Here at Early Ed Watch, we see these recommendations as a first step by educators, administrators and education researchers to become more vocal in promoting research-based ideas for improving the early years of the public education system. (These are pieces that appeared to be missing in the Obama Administration's Blueprint for Reform.) We expect that as more voices join, these ideas will be improved and amended, but we hope that they can at least provide some helpful direction to policymakers on Capitol Hill who are rewriting ESEA.
Please jump in with comments or ideas. All are welcome as we here at Early Ed Watch continue to flesh out and report on new ideas.