Cabinet secretaries Arne Duncan (education) and Kathleen Sebelius (health and human services) held a very ho-hum conference call this morning to announce their support of a $10 billion Early Learning Challenge Fund grant program introduced in legislation this week by Rep. George Miller. As if their support was in question.
Investing in early learning is a big priority of President Obama, and Rep. Miller (the chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee) would pay for this initiative by overhauling the federal student loan program. (UPDATE: It’s worth adding that the President called for this kind of investment—and the Early Learning Challenge Grant program—back in March, and that Miller was the first to answer that call.)
Sebelius said early education is the best economic investment a state can make, while Duncan emphasized that states will be expected to build a quality workforce to serve in early education jobs.
Miller’s bill, which is expected to be marked up next week, would establish a competitive $10 billion grant program for states to improve their systems of early education. States are expected to develop evidence-based quality standards for programs, improve support for parents and professional development for teachers, and require that teachers have degrees in early education.