UPDATE: The Senate passed the bill mentioned below 33-2 Friday night and it now awaits a vote in the House.
At a news conference this evening Senate leaders announced that they will run an early childhood bill tonight that will expand access to pre-K for young children around the state. CEA President Sheila Cohen told reporters, “It is not hyperbole to say that without a pre-K component, all the education reform initiatives underway in the state might not work.”
The bill being introduced by Senate leaders combines the Smart Start initiative proposed by Democratic leaders earlier this month with the preschool proposal put forth by the executive branch. It also writes the Office of Early Childhood into statute.
CEA has been urging legislators to do the right thing and vote in favor of increasing access to preschool. Expanded pre-K is crucial to increasing student achievement and providing real education reform to ensure student success.
Senate President Donald Williams said, “This bill will meet an unmet need in the State of Connecticut.”
Senator Andrea Stillman called today, “An exciting day for the state of Connecticut,” saying that the bill will prepare kids for Kindergarten who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to access pre-K.
According to Senator Beth Bye, the Smart Start initiative is important because it expands early childhood education to poor children who live in places other than priority school districts. “If we want to get to universal pre-K, we have to get to all 169 towns,” she said.
Cohen thanked legislators for their efforts to make a positive impact on the work of educators in classrooms around the state.