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Rep. Joaquin Castro Proposes "Pre-K for USA" to Give Nation's Youngest Students a Shot at Success


by: Katie Singh

Thu Jul 03, 2014 at 03:00 PM CDT


Following the success of his brother's signature "Pre-K for SA" program in San Antonio, US Rep. Joaquin Castro introduced a bill last week dubbed "Pre-K for USA," to expand access to early childhood education for millions of American children.

Early childhood education is one of the most sound educational investments one can make to ensure a child's future success. As Rep. Castro pointed out in an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News, "students who have a top-notch prekindergarten education are more likely to read at grade level, less likely to repeat a grade or drop out, and more likely to succeed in their careers. Studies have also shown that children who attended preschool are less likely to develop alcohol or drug problems, commit a felony or end up in prison." In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services has reported that, "a public dollar spent on high quality early childhood education can return $7 through increased productivity and savings on public assistance and criminal justice programs."

Despite this, as Congressman Castro noted, "the reality is that less than 3 out of 10 4-year-olds are enrolled in pre-K."

In order to remedy this, Castro introduced the "Pre-K for USA Act" in the House last week. It is designed to give American children the chance to start their education off on the right foot. As Rep. Castro explained, "Opening access to prekindergarten to all our children gets our country one step closer to ensuring that all American children have the opportunity to get ahead in life, achieve their dreams, and boost our nation's prosperity."

Learn how the Pre-K for USA act works and watch Rep. Castro's remarks on the House floor after the jump.

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Castro's bill is designed to empower cities to introduce pre-kindergarten education themselves, similarly to San Antonio. It would let cities take the lead on educating their children without making them rely on state governments to give them the go-ahead.

Castro elaborated in the Dallas Morning News:

The Pre-K for USA Act allows local education agencies and governments to apply directly to the federal government for grants to develop and expand high-quality pre-K programs.

Local entities must have the ability to step up to the plate and pick up the slack where their state governments are failing. Instead of waiting on action from the state, this bill would enable cities...to invest in their own communities' future.

Congressman Castro further explained the significance of the bill on the House floor last week. You can watch his speech and read a transcript of his remarks below.

"For generations in America, we've seen that education is the surest path to success. That is why today I'm introducing the Pre-K for USA Act.

The Pre-K for USA Act allows local education agencies and governments to apply directly to federal government for grants to develop and expand high-quality pre-K programs. Cities and schools districts need to have the ability to step up to the plate and pick up the slack where their state governments are failing them.

Unfortunately, in my home state of Texas, as is the case in other states, legislators have curtailed their investment in education. Instead, they have picked up the troubling practice of pretending to balance budgets by slashing early-childhood education funds.

I call on my colleagues to support the Pre-K for USA Act and get our country one step closer to ensuring that all American children have the opportunity to get ahead in life, achieve their dreams, and boost our nation's prosperity."



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