Alexandria, Va. (May 3, 2011) – The nation’s leading education organizations have joined together to support high-quality pre-kindergarten as a key component of state and local education efforts. The Pre-K Coalition—comprised of the American Association of School Administrators (AASA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), National Education Association (NEA), and the National School Boards Association (NSBA)—are developing joint principles and recommendations to apply to federal legislation as well as state and local policy and practices. The effort demonstrates the groups’ collective commitment to building a strong, aligned P-12 system of education.
"Pre-kindergarten is an important piece of the early learning continuum in tandem with Head Start, child care, services to young children with disabilities and early learning investments,” said Chrisanne Gayl, Director of the Pre-K Coalition. "This coalition is a unique opportunity to come together to highlight the importance of early learning to Congress, recommend federal policies that reflect the needs on the ground, and to build upon innovative state and local initiatives."
Over the last decade, enrollment in state-funded pre-kindergarten programs has grown more than 70 percent. States, school districts and early childhood leaders are working together to build a continuum of high quality, voluntary early learning programs.
"Whether they serve as the administrative agent for a pre-k program, provide space for an early childhood program, or partner with local preschool providers in the community, public schools are integrally involved in early education," noted Anne L. Bryant, Executive Director of NSBA, which is spearheading the coalition.
Data from the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University show that two-thirds of all children in publicly funded pre-kindergarten are in public school settings. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, schools also represent 16 percent of Head Start and Early Head Start grantees.
The Coalition has released Framing the Future: Addressing Pre-K in ESEA, which highlights the new opportunities for the federal government to support and strengthen state and local early education efforts. While each organization has its own priorities for improving the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), teachers, principals, superintendents, state and local school board members, and chief state school officers all agree it is time to reframe the law to better support policies and practices that ensure young children are ready and able to succeed in school.
"Early education is an essential part of our educational system," said Gayl. "The evidence is overwhelming. There is no doubt that a high-quality pre-kindergarten education can make a critical difference in a child’s achievement. It will also save public education billions down the road in remedial education, special education, and drop-out prevention."
The group plans on proposing reforms in a number of key areas of policy and practice including: access to quality programs, workforce preparation, P-3 alignment, and data collection.
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The Pre-K Coalition is a collaboration of the American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Council of Chief State School Officers, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of State Boards of Education, National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association to develop consensus on pre-kindergarten policy goals.