WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) today attended a hearing to examine best practices for early childhood education. The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (H.E.L.P.) Committee hearing is the final of 10 hearings on reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Below is a portion of Sen. Brown’s statement:
Over the course of 10 hearings for the reauthorization for the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we have come full circle. It is very fitting that our final hearing puts us back at the beginning – early childhood education.
We know that from birth, children’s brains are developing at a rapid pace. It is during these early years when the connections are laid for the hard wiring that enables lifelong learning. These key connections include relationships with caring adults, language development, and approaches to learning. The stresses of poverty, which often result in poor nutrition, poor health, and limited opportunities to learn, can leave children behind the learning curve before they set foot inside a school.
Today, we have a fragmented system of early care and education. We have Head Start, the Child Care Development Block Grant, state pre-school programs, and home or informal care. Our challenge is to ensure that no matter what the setting, the quality of education and care allows children to develop to their full potential.
I am proud that my state of Ohio has made early childhood education a priority and is working to build a comprehensive, integrated system. Ohio has already taken steps to improve the quality of care in all settings through its Step up to Quality voluntary rating system. Through its Center for Early Childhood Development, the state will have an integrated system that will support expectant mothers and families and children from birth through kindergarten entry.
We need to do more.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act must be part of the early education framework. During this reauthorization, we have an opportunity to help make schools ready for children while we continue to strengthen our early education programs to help children be ready for school.
This will involve more than merely mapping our career and college ready standards back to birth. Early childhood does not end with when school begins. We should use our knowledge of early childhood development and our experience with high quality parental involvement in programs such as Head Start to inform how we approach the early school years – at least through third grade.