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K-12 Leaders Unite to Push Pre-K in New ESEA

This week, a broad coalition of major K-12 organizations led by the National School Boards Association (NSBA) released a policy brief supporting the inclusion of early childhood education in ESEA reauthorization. According to the brief, over the last decade enrollment in state pre-kindergarten programs has grown by more than 70 percent, and two-thirds of all children in state pre-K programs are in public school settings.

"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 Pre-K Coalition. Other coalition members include 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 and the National Education Association.

While current law allows districts to spend Title I money on early education, the coalition argues in its brief that "local leaders may be reluctant to do so given the mandated set-asides for transportation, supplemental services and other requirements imposed during the last reauthorization of ESEA."

The group plans to propose specific 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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