U.S. Rep. Grace Meng, D-Flushing, has introduced a bill that is aimed at improving the quality of early childhood education in the United States.
The Early Childhood Education Professional Improvement Act, which was introduced by Meng and Rep. Jared Polis, D-CO, would create a federal grant program for states to prepare, develop and support early childhood educators.
“Further strengthening our country’s preschool workforce is essential to providing our kids with a solid foundation for success and the first rate childhood education they deserve,” Meng said. “Only by investing in our kids can we ensure the future prosperity of America and guarantee that it remains the strongest and most productive nation in the world.”
The bill would authorize the U.S. secretary of education to make the grants available to all states.
Funds could be used toward providing scholarships for early childhood educators to pursue a bachelor’s degree, supporting educators to attain a credential or licensure demonstrating competence in early childhood education or increasing compensation for educators who are enrolled or making progress toward a degree in early childhood education.
Meng said that 400 retired generals, admirals and other senior military leaders recently sent a letter to members of Congress in which they wrote that failing to improve quality and access to early education would threaten the U.S.’s national security.
“It is a given that high-quality early childhood education is crucial to building a strong foundation for children’s growth and development,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. “Sadly, inadequate preparation and low pay for early childhood educators lead to constant turnover and an unstable environment for kids.”