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Policy Pick: Linking with Business to Drum Up Federal ECE Support

March 19, 2012
 
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Early education was a key priority on the agenda for a delegation of 175 business and civic leaders who visited with lawmakers in Washington D.C. earlier this month. The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce group, including First 5 LA Senior Policy Analyst Kate Sachnoff, used the trip to garner support for a Chamber policy agenda that embraces early childhood education. The Chamber organizes the annual "Access Washington D.C" trip, led this year by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

"The education pipeline begins at birth; it is instrumental that we invest in early education in order to reduce drop-out rates, increase success rates and prepare our 21st century workforce," said David Rattray, vice president of Education and Workforce Development for the Chamber. The Chamber's agenda includes investing in early education and incorporating early education into the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

Sachnoff's group visited the offices of Sens. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Robert Casey (D-Pennsylavania) and Reps. Zoe Loftgren (D-California) and Judy Chu (D-California), and also had discussions with top officials from the White House and the U.S. Department of Education. Several times they were joined by Chamber members representing K-12 and higher education issues to demonstrate the importance of having systems that work to ensure smooth transitions for students. "The Chamber integrated the message of early learning into everything they had to say about education throughout this trip," Sachnoff said. "Entering these conversations with a diverse group, including Southern California Gas, Time Warner Cable and aerospace engineering companies, gave a different and unexpected voice to our early learning agenda."

These meetings provided an opportunity to acquaint Chamber members, legislators, their staff and Obama administration officials with First 5 LA and its policy priorities and investments. Sachnoff shared the importance of early care and education being incorporated into the upcoming reauthorization of the ESEA in terms of funding, setting quality standards and providing for joint workforce development between elementary and ECE professionals. Some First 5 LA grantees participated, including Los Angeles Universal Preschool, the Advancement Project and Zero To Three. First 5 LA's $52 million investment in an ECE workforce consortium, convened by LAUP, was of particular interest to the DOE officials.

Administration officials and legislative staff stressed that, while it is unlikely that any legislation will be passed prior to the presidential election, the information will be helpful for future policy making for items such as ESEA and the Child Care and Development Block Grant.

First 5 LA's federal advocates and policy staff will continue their work to build legislation and support appropriations that address the needs of our youngest L.A. County residents.

For more information, contact Kate Sachnoff at KSachnoff@First5LA.org

Additional Reading:

Sen. Tom Harkin: Fixing Economy Starts with Early Education

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