WASHINGTON STATE

HOUSE DEMOCRATS

Best way to close the achievement gap? Early learning

OLYMPIA – A large bipartisan group of legislators, led by Rep. Ruth Kagi, Chair of the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee, and Senator Steve Litzow, Chair of the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee, introduced bills to improve the quality of Washington’s childcares and preschools.

The two bills, HB 1491 and SB 5452, are companions and are both called “The Early Start Act.” The legislation recognizes the brain science and the positive long-term impact early learning has on a child’s school readiness, overall health and life.The Early Start Act builds on the practices, high-quality programs and policies that have made Washington state a nationally recognized leader in early learning.

“We know that almost half our state’s children arrive at kindergarten unprepared to learn,” Rep. Kagi said. “We must close the opportunity gap. Early learning is an essential part of the solution for fulfilling our constitutional obligation to educate all children. The Early Start Act will help our children succeed in school and in life.”

“Access and quality are essential for a strong early learning system that prepares children for success in school and in life,” said Sen. Litzow. “Reaching more children with quality early learning opportunities when their brains are developing rapidly will have lasting effects throughout society.”

Both legislators are ready to work with all their colleagues to increase the state’s commitment to the future of our children, schools and communities.

Advocates issued the following statements:

Chris Korsmo, CEO of the League of Education Voters: “The bipartisan Early Start Act will ensure that all children get the great start they need in life. It will promote high-quality early learning and parent choice, help parents find quality care and learning opportunities to suit their kids, and prepare more kids for kindergarten.”

Snohomish County Sheriff, Ty Trenary: “Getting kids off to a good start through high-quality early learning is one of the very best tools we have for preventing crime.  It’s as simple as “pay now or pay later.”

Jon Gould, Deputy Director of the Children’s Alliance: “The Early Start Act holds tremendous promise for our state’s children.  A great start for children leads to more successful schools, stronger families, more self-reliant adults and safer communities. High quality early learning is a proven means of closing the K-12 opportunity gap and ensuring educational opportunity for all Washington’s children.”