U.S. House Passes Landmark Education Bill

You may have heard that Florida U.S. Reps. Suzanne Kosmas (D-New Smyrna Beach) and Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) and the U.S. House of Representatives recently approved the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA).

You may also have heard that this landmark bill would make the single largest investment in history in higher education aid, ensuring that college loans are more affordable for families and more students graduate from institutions of higher learning.

But did you know SAFRA is also designed to bolster early childhood education so students start school with the skills they need to learn and succeed?

It’s true. SAFRA, which the House passed on September 17, would invest $1 billion each year—over the next eight years—to build what lawmakers call “comprehensive, high quality, early learning systems” for children from birth to age five.

“A high-quality, 21st Century education is critical to succeed in today’s economy, and it has to begin at an early age,” said Congresswoman Kosmas. “The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will provide critical funding to help transform early education standards and practices, build an effective early childhood teaching workforce, and improve school readiness for young children.”
Congressman Grayson agreed.

 

“I'm really fortunate that both my parents were teachers,” Congressman Grayson said. “My mother started to teach me to read when she was potty-training me. My parents gave me that great head start in education – and in life – that I still benefit from today. Now I want every child in America to enjoy the enormous benefits of early childhood education. That's why I support the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.”

SAFRA, also known as H.R. 3221, would establish the Early Learning Challenge Fund. The fund would award grants to states that improve early education standards and practices, build an effective early childhood workforce, and improve the school readiness outcomes of young children.

“I have always been a strong proponent of early childhood education, and I am very pleased that we are now focused on these essential programs,” said Kosmas.

FEA and the National Education Association (NEA) support the House version of the bill – especially the provisions that would:

  • Build an effective, qualified, and well-compensated early childhood workforce by supporting providers with degrees in early education
    and providing ongoing professional development opportunities; and
  • Promote parent and family involvement by developing effective outreach strategies.

 

The bill also rejects any assessments of young children as a means of evaluating program effectiveness.
View how your representative voted at http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2009/roll719.xml

Call your representative and thank them for passing SAFRA and urge them to include these reforms in the final version.

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