Timothy J. Bartik
W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research
Early Childhood Investment Corporation, Diversity Specialist
A Blog from New America's Early Education Initiative
Author(s): Lisa Guernsey
Published: September 20, 2011
Political observers say there is little chance of Congress passing a new Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) this year, but some legislators are forging ahead anyway. In the past month, Republicans and Democrats have put forward bills designed to be part of a redesigned ESEA, known to most as No Child Left Behind.
One bill in particular has been on our mind here at Early Ed Watch: The Continuum of Learning Act, introduced in late August by Rep. Mazie Hirono (D-HI). A similar bill, designed in conjunction with Hirono’s bill, is waiting in the wings in the Senate, where it has been shepherded by Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA).
The Continuum of Learning Act includes several “fixes” to ESEA that we have advocated for in letters to lawmakers, remarks to the U.S. Department of Education, and issue briefs on reforming the law. Over the summer, many early ed groups gathered to provide input on the bill, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the First Five Years Fund, Pre-K Now, the Center for Law and Social Policy, the National Women’s Law Center, First Focus, the Early Care and Education Consortium and others. Here at the Early Education Initiative, we were also involved, providing input on parts of the bill related to alignment of standards, programs to prepare early childhood teachers, collection of data, and more.
The bill – H.R. 2794 – does not create new programs or require new spending. Its purpose is to change policies at the school, district and state level to bridge gaps between existing early learning centers and elementary schools. Here are highlights summarized by the Congressional Research Service. The bill:
There is a lot to unpack here, and we’ll be providing more depth on many of these bullet points in the coming months. The National Association for the Education of Young Children, which played a key role in writing the legislation, describes some of them in its Call to Action for the 112th Congress.
Co-sponsors of the bill included Walter Jones (R-NC), Don Young (R-AK), and Jared Polis (D-CO).
See our special page on early learning in ESEA for recent news, commentary and recommendations.
Early Ed Watch is a multi-author blog that appears on the New America Foundation website. To view other blog content, click here. This blog entry is used by permission.