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Governors Offer Guidelines on Federal-State Early Education Partnerships

Governors want to take the lead role in any partnership with the federal government to expand state preschool programs and should be given broad flexibility to create high-quality programs, says a list of "principles" released June 16 by the National Governors Association, in Washington.

These principles are intended to serve as guidelines for Congress and the White House as those groups decide how—or if—to shift more money to the states to pay for early-childhood education.

The Obama administration proposed a $75 billion increase in early-childhood spending back in 2013, and has been talking it up since then. The Senate education committee voted along partisan lines to approve a $30 billion increase in preschool funding, but the measure has not been taken up by the full Senate. The House of Representatives has balked at the price tag of such legislation, leaving the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge grants as the main way that the Obama administration has been able to influence state early-education policy. In addition, the department has $250 million in preschool development and expansion grants that states will soon be able to compete for.   

Other principles outlined by the NGA:

  • The current patchwork of federal early-education programs, funding, and data collection must be reviewed and aligned to give governors greater flexibility to ensure the best use of existing federal dollars and programs to support high-quality state early-learning systems that are more responsive to the needs of all families.
  • Federal early-education programs should recognize the significant investments states have made in early education and allow current state funding for high-quality early education to count toward the state portion of any early-education matching grant program.
  • The federal government should provide assistance for states to pursue innovations and enhancements to the preparation, professional development, and compensation of early-childhood educators through federal educator and workforce improvement initiatives.


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