Statement on Incorporating Early Learning into Elementary and Secondary Education Act

By Elliot Regenstein, Senior Vice President

CHICAGO – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan this morning laid out the Obama Administration’s vision for reauthorizing the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), and in doing so emphasized the importance of early learning.  Secretary Duncan’s comments came as Congress is moving to reauthorize ESEA, and many Congressional leaders have also articulated a desire to be champions for early learning.

The fundamental goal of ESEA is to ensure that children are provided with a world-class education.  For 50 years, ESEA has aimed to address the achievement gap by funneling education resources and funding to those most in need.  In the last decade, a wealth of research has proven again and again that early childhood education is a key factor to preventing the achievement gap that persists in K-12 education. Incorporating early childhood into ESEA in a more meaningful and intentional way is an important step for the federal government, which plays a key role in supporting early learning in partnership with leaders at the state and local levels.

Early childhood education has broad support among diverse government officials, business executives and civic leaders. With a research base clearly showing early learning’s potential to set the course for a child’s future success, we hope to see ESEA keep step and recognize the importance of early childhood education. The Ounce of Prevention Fund commends the administration for its proposals, and appreciates that it has been a stalwart champion of our nation’s youngest and most vulnerable learners. We look forward to continued bipartisan support for early learning through inclusion in ESEA reauthorization.

Ounce of Prevention Fund

The Ounce of Prevention Fund works to ensure that all children, particularly those in poverty, have quality early childhood experiences from birth to age five. Educare Chicago, the Ounce state-of-the-art school on the South Side, has become a national model of high-quality early childhood education. Learn more at