Essa Signing_2A new education law came out of Washington D.C. recently with strong bipartisan support. The new law, the Every Student Succeeds Act, eliminates No Child Left Behind and brings back more state and local control over education.

The new law also includes a significant amount of support for early learning programs. Outgoing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan is known for stressing that a child’s education begins long before kindergarten; it begins at birth.

This new bill emphasizes that important point. It includes:

  • $250 million Preschool Development Grants program, which helps prepare children from low-income families for kindergarten and later development
  • Strong emphasis on improving transitions from early learning to kindergarten programs
  • Supports early learning trainings for elementary teachers and school leaders
  • Calls on states and districts to imbed early learning in Title 1 plans

This may sounds like a bunch of jargon, but these are important steps to improve early learning across the country.

Minnesota is ahead of the curve, but there is still much to do. Nearly 50% of children in Minnesota enter kindergarten unprepared to learn. We know many of those students never catch up.

Improving the early learning opportunities available to children and families, particularly children from low-income families, is a win-win for all of us.

And it’s wonderful that Congress is now taking action on this crucial issue.