May 3, 2011
Cynthia Leonor Garza
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
on AFT Joining Leading Education Organizations To Support High-Quality Pre-K
The AFT is working with the American Association of School Administrators, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Education Association, and the National School Boards Association to develop joint principles and recommendations to apply to federal legislation and state and local policies.
WASHINGTON—From the moment children are born, we should be laying a strong foundation for them—especially for our most vulnerable or disadvantaged. The American Federation of Teachers is proud to work with our education allies toward our shared goal of preparing all children—from the earliest age—to thrive in school, career and life. Accessible, high-quality early childhood education is essential so that all children are ready for kindergarten and beyond. Our work will focus on developing joint principles and recommendations to promote early childhood education in federal, state and local legislation and policies.
Public schools are a crucial link for prekindergarten programs, and the majority of public pre-K programs are located in traditional public schools. Even so, sometimes a disconnect remains between pre-K and kindergarten, and we need to do a better job of aligning the two and making sure children don’t fall through the cracks during the transition. We must create a continuum that goes from birth to preschool, pre-K, kindergarten and beyond. We strongly believe changes to the Elementary and Secondary Education Act must include support for early learning programs so that all kids gain the foundation they need to succeed.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.