WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Kit Bond (R-MO), Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) and Patty Murray (D-WA) today introduced a pair of bills on school readiness, the Education Begins at Home Act and the Ready to Learn Act, to prepare better America’s children for the future.
“These programs work, I’m an example” said Bond. “As a Governor and a parent, I realized the early years of a child’s life are the building blocks to success. These bills build on this idea and strengthen parents as teachers.”
“We know that the key to our economic strength is education. And as a former preschool teacher, I’ve seen first-hand what a difference quality home learning and preschool programs make in the life of a child,” Senator Murray said. “The Ready to Learn Act and the Education Begins At Home Act will help families and communities across the country provide their children with a strong start and put them on a path to learn and succeed.”
“Parents are their children’s first and most important teachers and home visitation and early childhood programs are vital tools in helping parents put their children on the road to future success. The Education Begins At Home Act and the Ready to Learn Act provide critical resources and support to children, families and educators. There is no better investment we can make than supporting a high quality early childhood experience,” Senator Clinton said.
As early proponents of school readiness, Senators Bond, Murray and Clinton reintroduced the Ready to Learn Act and the Education Begins at Home Act, in a bi-partisan effort to provide America’s children with the tools they need to begin the process of learning. Nearly 50 percent of all kindergarten teachers report that at least half of their students come to school with problems that hinder their success. Children who attend high-quality pre-kindergarten programs are less likely to be held back a grade or need special education, and they are more likely to graduate from high school. Providing critical education and family support also ensures better results.
The Education at Home Act and the Ready to Learn Act will help strengthen the education of America’s children in and out of the classroom. The first bill, the Education Begins at Home Act, makes a federal investment in parents by establishing the first, dedicated federal funding stream to support parents as educators at the state and local level. The second bill, the Ready to Learn Act, will help prepare children for kindergarten by providing funding for states through a competitive process to establish and administer voluntary preschool programs, while allowing governors to build on pre-existing early childhood systems including schools, child care entities, Head Start programs, or other community providers of pre-kindergarten programs.
Prior to their Senate careers, all three Senators witnessed the benefits of school-readiness programs. As Governor of Missouri, Senator Bond established a similar program, Parents as Teachers. As First Lady of Arkansas, Senator Clinton introduced a program called Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY). As a former pre-school teacher, Senator Murray worked firsthand with children and early childhood development programs.