House Committee on Education and Labor
U.S. House of Representatives

Republicans
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon
Ranking Member

Fiscally responsible reforms for students, workers and retirees.

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Committee Statement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2009

CONTACT: Alexa Marrero
(202) 225-4527

Castle Statement: Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Subcommittee Hearing on “Improving Early Childhood Development Policies and Practices”

Good morning and thank you, Chairman Kildee, for holding this important hearing. I am pleased to be here today examining early childhood education. 

Research increasingly points to the critical importance of quality early childhood education as the foundation for school success. Early childhood development is an issue the Committee knows well, and one that is extremely important to me.

Since serving as the Governor of Delaware, I have actively worked to ensure children five years of age and younger have access to high-quality early education. Through the Focus on the First Sixty Months initiative in Delaware, we recognized that the most effective way to assure children can take advantage of existing K-12 education opportunities is to make certain they are ready to learn when they enter school. 

Delaware continues to work on early identification and treatment, which Dr. Lowery will speak to in a few minutes, so that young children start life healthy, enter school ready to learn and are able to grow into productive citizens.

In 2007, Members on both sides of the aisle worked together to draft legislation, which was ultimately signed into law. That legislation reauthorized the Head Start program and built upon the strengths of the Program in order to improve early childhood education opportunities for disadvantaged children. The reauthorization was a major stepping stone in improving early childhood education, and this hearing today is also important as the Congress continues to focus on early childhood programs that promote the educational development of our nation's students.

Recently, President Obama outlined his plan to create incentives for states to support comprehensive and coordinated high-quality early childhood programs for children from birth to age five. I agree that Congress should look at ways through which we can support the work states are currently doing to guarantee our youngest children are provided the early learning opportunities they need to succeed in school and in life.

To do this, Congress must work in a bipartisan manner to make certain parents remain in control of their child's early childhood care and education. Congress must also ensure that states are given the flexibility they need to carry out successful early childhood programs while remaining mindful of taxpayer resources throughout the process – especially in these tough economic times. Additionally, I am hopeful that we can work together to coordinate, not duplicate, existing federal early childhood programs.

Today we will hear from witnesses who will provide us with expert background on improving early childhood education. I look forward to hearing their advice about effective and efficient early childhood reform, and learning what they are doing to help our nation's youngest, and often most at-risk, children.

Thank you Mr. Chairman, I yield back.

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