Federal legislation is set to be introduced today that seeks to expand low and middle income families' access to early education.
Sponsored by Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowar, and Reps. George Miller, D-California and Richard Hanna, R-NY, the legislation aims to provide access to high-qaulity, full-day preschool programs for four-year olds.
The "Strong Start for America's Children Act" was already being lauded as a signfiicant step toward making sure all children are ready for kindergarten.
Among those supporters on hand in Washington D.C today was Hennepin County Sherrif Richard Stanek who is representing the Fight Crime: Invest in Kids campaign, which is comprised of more than 5,000 law enforcement officials.
Stanek and other members of the group argue that investing in early education prevents prive.
"Nationwide, 7 out of 10 inmates in state prisons don't have a high school diploma," he said. "That’s a tough statistic. But I see the human toll every day when we arrest and lock up people who can barely read or write. But I also know that no child is destined at birth to end up in jail . . . and that we'd all much rather see kids in caps and gowns as opposed to handcuffs and jumpsuits.”
Stanek shared the stage with U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the actress Jennifer Garner, both of whom urged Congress to support the legislation.
In Minnesota, early education got a big boost when legislators funded $40 million worth of early learning scholarships. Those funds are expected to begin being given to families by the end of this year.
Photo by the U.S. Department of Education