Senator Tim Johnson on the Importance of Early Education
This spring, I visited the Wagner Community School to learn more about the school district’s early education program. The school district has dramatically expanded access to pre-k for three- and four-year-old children through collaboration with Head Start and coordinating other resources. For the last six years, more than 100 children have participated in Wagner’s pre-k program each year. This program has served as a model for other school districts, such as the Andes Central School District that has utilized the pre-k model to start a program for its students. To read more about my trip to Wagner, please click here.
As a father and grandfather, I have seen firsthand the importance of quality early education. I believe pre-k is an important first step in ensuring that children enter school with the skills to succeed. I am concerned that funding cuts in recent years at the state and federal levels will make it harder for families to access pre-k services. As a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, I will work to protect funding for Head Start and other important education programs.
I am supportive of proposals that would increase the federal investment in early education. Studies show and experts agree that developmental education for children ages 0-5 is fundamental to a child’s lifelong cognitive and behavioral skills. I am a cosponsor of the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, which would provide grants to help states expand quality pre-k programs. A great deal of attention has recently been directed to early education after President Obama highlighted the importance of pre-k during his 2013 State of the Union address. Additionally, President Obama included a plan in his Fiscal Year 2014 budget proposal to invest $75 billion over the next ten years to expand access to quality preschool for all low- and moderate-income children. This proposal would be fully paid for by doubling the federal cigarette tax
. With long waiting lists for Head Start, it’s clear there is great demand for quality and affordable pre-k in South Dakota. In response, communities have started launching pre-k programs to serve eligible Head Start children on these waiting lists. Should the full Senate take action on early education legislation, I will work to build upon the progress that is already being made in South Dakota. It’s important to note, however, that until Congress reaches agreement on a comprehensive plan to address our country’s debt problems, it will be difficult to boost federal support for early education. Returning our country to a responsible budget will require tough choices about what federal programs should be prioritized. I believe we should prioritize federal support for pre-k, as well as other education programs, because these programs represent smart investments in our state and country’s future.
Photos by Tom Lawrence/Daily Republic
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Head Start News
Hardball with Chris Matthews conducted an interview with the Chairman of the National Head Start Association.
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Hands-In for Head Start
As Congress begins to consider the 2014 budget, it is important to keep Head Start and Early Head Start on their minds. They are back home on recess the week of April 29th, 2013 - a great opportunity to showcase Head Start and draw attention to the painful cuts programs are feeling
Join NHSA and programs across the country in the Hands In for Head Start project! Here's how it works: children create murals of handprints, then parents, staff and friends deliver the murals to the Members' district offices. Here's an example of one Hands-In effort that got terrific response.
By delivering murals with children's handprints to Congressional offices, we can remind everyone just how many lives are touched and hands are held by Head Start.
Click here to see all of the great pictures we have received and please continue to send your pictures to Emmalie at email@example.com.
Find out how you and your local Head Start program can get involved at go.nhsa.org/hands-in today!
Head Start Programs Forced to Make Cuts
The Sequester of funds went into effect on March 1, 2013, and will have our programs making tough decisions
on how to cut expenses while maintaining the quality programs that define Head Start and Early Head Start.
South Dakota Head Start programs will lose at least 5% of their funding, which equates to a loss in funding
for over 200 children. This will also mean reductions in staffing and services provided.
Congress in Washington, DC still has a chance to reinstate Head Start funding. Make your voices heard.
Sign the National Head Start petition
White House release on Sequester
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