As the 2014 legislative session enters the homestretch before the May 7 adjournment, legislators are considering a universal pre-K plan, an investment that would prepare students for future success.
Senate President Don Williams, who has been at the forefront of the pre-K debate, joined other Democratic leaders, including Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz in announcing the Connecticut Smart Start program on April 9. Over the course of 10 years, the $200 million program would provide more than 50,000 children the opportunity for a high-quality early education experience—making Connecticut a trailblazer on the path toward universal pre-K.
“Smart Start applies what we as educators know about the important positive effects of early childhood education. High-quality preschool education supports and enhances young children’s development and future success,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “The time has come for legislators to enable all Connecticut children to have access to quality pre-K.”
The pre-K movement has gained momentum over the past few years, in Connecticut and other states, as policymakers try to close the achievement gap and provide the best education possible to all students. More than half of the states across the country provide limited pre-K programs and several, including Connecticut and Massachusetts, are currently debating expanded pre-K programs.
“This is something that’s never been done before in Connecticut,” said Williams, “and something that everyone can agree on.”
Connecticut teachers welcome the Smart Start proposal, which is an important step in helping them prepare all students for academic achievement.
Cromwell teacher and 2013 Connecticut Teacher of the Year Blaise Messinger said, “I am proud to support this initiative which represents greater opportunity, wider options, and, really, when you come right down it, hope. Hope for the kids of Connecticut.”