Frontline Educators Make the Case for Pre-K Support

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Frontline educators and local officials traveled to the U.S. Capitol Oct. 4 to tell Congress that a stronger federal partnership, embodied in a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act with a strong early childhood education component, is vital for the youngest children in the classroom. To prove that point, the education stakeholders brought the classroom with them.

Amy Mandel

Watch video of preschool teacher Amy Mandel discussing the Capitol Hill briefing.

The Capitol Hill briefing, which included preschool teacher and AFT member Amy Mandel of Perth Amboy, N.J. (pictured at right), was organized by the Pre-K Coalition, a collaboration of groups that includes the AFT, 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. The coalition was created to develop a consensus on prekindergarten policy goals, and the October briefing featured the launch of "Ensuring America's Future," a report that offers recommendations for strengthening, aligning and broadening pre-K access in communities nationwide.

Among the coalition's recommendations is federal help for states to design and implement comprehensive preK-3 professional development. Martin, a National Board Certified Teacher, told the Capitol Hill audience that "good teaching practices in the pre-K years start with a teacher knowing child development and how to integrate age-appropriate curriculum to fit the children you teach."

The coalition's recommendations focus on equitable access, a high-quality workforce, program quality, program coordination and preK-3 alignment. Making the federal government a better partner in achieving these goals was at the core of the briefing, and several of the speakers stressed the urgency of enacting a new ESEA with a strong pre-K component. To illustrate the value of strong, well-supported early childhood programs, the coalition briefing included live Web simulcasts from pre-K classrooms headed by AFT members Amy Harding-Wright in Washington, D.C., and April Marie Gott-Walker in Bloomington, Minn. [Mike Rose/photo by Michael Campbell/video by Brett Sherman and Matthew Jones]

October 4, 2011