Democrats Take Action to Help Improve Access to High-Quality Early Childhood Education

As Republicans continue their streak of doing pretty much nothing at all, President Obama made another announcement today about action he can take without relying on Republicans to actually do something. Today’s announcement was on Head Start and early childhood education (which as you all know Whip Hoyer has been an advocate of for years). To ensure greater accountability in the program, the rule would require low-performing Head Start centers to reapply and compete for their federal funding, which will help improve access to high-quality early childhood education. This new rule stems from a policy that was included in the Improving Head Start Act of 2007 – legislation enacted with overwhelming bipartisan support, we’d note.

Educators and the business community know that the early years are vitally important to ensuring school readiness and greater success as students progress throughout their school years. And we agree. That’s why President Obama and Congressional Democrats are committed to making a real difference for America’s families by improving the quality of Head Start programs.

From the Associated Press:

“President Barack Obama chided congressional Republicans Tuesday for ‘trying to gut our investments in education,’ and announced new steps to tackle early childhood education that won't require legislation.”

“…Obama said boosting the nation's education system at all levels is an economic imperative because it puts young people on the path toward obtaining good jobs later in life.”

“The president said his administration has been able to work on education reform with mayors and governors in both parties. But congressional Republicans, he said, have stood in the way of his efforts to revamp the No Child Left Behind law and blocked a proposal in the president's job bill that the White House said would have kept 400,000 teachers in the classroom.”

“Under the new rules Obama announced on Tuesday, lower-performing Head Start programs that fail to meet a new set of benchmarks will be required to compete for federal funding.”

“The new standards mandate that poorly performing programs will have to compete for funding if they have deficiencies discovered in their onsite review, fail to establish and use school-readiness goals for children, or demonstrate low performance in the classroom quality evaluation.”

“Going forward, all Head Start grants will be good for five years. After that time, each program's performance will be re-evaluated to determine whether it is meeting the benchmarks or must compete for another grant.”

“‘We're just not going to put money into programs that don't work. We will take money and put them into programs that do,’ Obama said during his quick trip to Pennsylvania.”