Last week at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Conference, Senior Advisor on Early Learning Jacqueline Jones announced the Department of Education’s plan to create the first ever Office for Early Learning. The object of this new office will be to correct the isolation in which federal early learning programs and funds have functioned and provide the strong coordinated collaboration necessary to dramatically improve early learning services.
The Office will provide institutionalized and coordinated federal support for high-quality early learning and enhance management and support for the early learning community and early learning education systems throughout the country. The Department of Education has been working tirelessly to recruit the best practitioners and partners in the field to bring the widest depth and scope to the conversation on early learning.
This effort met with its first break through with the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge, a $500 million federal commitment that supports states efforts to create comprehensive plans to improve early learning and development programs that will allow all children to enter kindergarten ready to succeed. 35 states in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico submitted applications for these funds, demonstrating their commitment to successful early learning for every child.
In this year’s State of the Union address, the President posited that “if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they are born until the last job they take – we will reach the goal that I set two years ago: By the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.”
The Department of Education’s commitment to the Office for Early Learning acknowledges the fundamental understanding that a child’s success begins in the earliest stages of his or her development. Through this Office, the Department of Education can continue to ensure that all students are given the skills and abilities to succeed throughout their lives, regardless of what they were born with.