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Early learning.

On March 1, Secretary Duncan and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius visited Rolling Terrace Elementary School in Takoma Park, Maryland, to highlight the importance of high-quality early learning programs. (The school is home to the Silver Spring Judy Center, which provides comprehensive early childhood services for children from birth through kindergarten.) The Secretaries observed state-fund preschool and Head Start classrooms and toured the Student Health Clinic. In celebration of Read Across America Day, they also read Dr. Seuss's popular "Green Eggs and Ham" to an audience of young students. "Rolling Terrace represents so much of what we want our country to be like and aspire to," Secretary Duncan remarked. "Many of the students grow up in poverty. The children speak as many as 35 different languages--it's a baby United Nations! But, the children are thriving. They have great adults who take care of them and are excited to work with them. ... They want to be here, and they are coming to an environment where they are going to be successful. ..."

In his 2013 State of the Union address, President Obama called on Congress to expand access to high-quality preschool to every child in America (fact sheet). Specifically, the President proposed a series of investments to establish a continuum of high-quality early learning--from birth to age five. The proposals include providing high-quality preschool for every child through a federal-state partnership and encouraging states to expand the availability of full-day kindergarten; expanding high-quality early learning opportunities in the years before preschool through investment in a new Early Head Start-Child Care partnership; and extending evidence-based, voluntary home visiting, which enables teachers, nurses, social workers, and other professionals to connect families to services and educational support that will improve a child's health, development, and ability to learn.

"As we move forward with this economically vital effort, we can look to states that have shown the way," the Secretaries noted in a Huffington Post op-ed titled "America's Middle Class Promise Starts Early." "In Massachusetts and Michigan, for example, Governors Deval Patrick and Rick Snyder have made expanding access to preschool programs a priority. Likewise, in Alabama, Governor Robert Bentley has proposed new resources to rapidly expand early education. These leaders represent a bipartisan consensus, that America can't win the race for the future by holding back children at the starting line. ... Early childhood education is one of the best investments we can make in our future. Now is the time to redouble our efforts, not cut back." Doing right by our youngest children is essential to America's middle class promise."

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Publication:ED Review
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 15, 2013
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