Dina Titus — Notes from the Hill

079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993
079 Capitol Hill United States Congress 1993 (Photo credit: David Holt London)

An extreme faction of the Republican Party forced a shutdown of the entire federal government. In Nevada and across the country, we’re already seeing the dire consequences of this manufactured crisis.

Brave members of our National Guard have been furloughed. Critical medical research has been halted; access to federal student loans and Pell grants has been delayed; and small business loans for women entrepreneurs have been cut off.

If this shutdown continues, WIC programs across the country will run dry and 9 million women, including over 74,000 in Nevada, will lose access to the nutrition assistance they rely on to survive. As many as 19,000 at-risk kids will be kicked out of their Head Start classrooms – and that is on top of the 57,000 kicked out by sequestration. This hurts children who deserve a leg up and working mothers who struggle to find adequate childcare at a cost they can afford. The list of negative impacts goes on and on.

But instead of working to find a commonsense solution to end the shutdown, some lawmakers are playing reckless, political games at the expense of the American people.

Americans are fed up with the political obstructionism and dysfunction that have led our country to this unnecessary government shutdown. And there’s an easy way to stop it.

Right now, there is a clean funding bill (a C.R. or continuing resolution) on the table that would end this madness. All it takes is 15 minutes and one vote.

Congressional members in both parties and houses of Congress support it. If it were brought to a vote, it would surely pass. The President would sign it into law and the government would reopen. Congress could refocus and start having a reasonable debate about how to reduce the deficit, grow our middle class, and create new jobs.

Unfortunately, the Speaker of the House refuses to bring this clean funding bill to a vote. Instead, the Republicans have pushed a series of piecemeal measures that neglect essential services for veterans, vital nutrition assistance for low-income families, and countless other programs that help seniors, children, and small businesses.

Cherry-picking parts of our government is irresponsible and unfair. The best way to take care of the needs of all Americans is to pass a single, simple, clean continuing resolution that would immediately reopen the entire government.

It’s time to put aside politics, call a vote on the clean funding bill to reopen the government, and end this harmful brinkmanship.

Surely taking 15 minutes and one vote is not too much to ask to reopen the government, end the uncertainty threatening our economy, and give the American people confidence in knowing their elected officials are working for their best interests.

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Sequestration Cuts To Education Programs Threaten To Widen Education Gap Between Rich And Poor

— by Adam Peck on Feb 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm

The achievement gap between school districts in high-income neighborhoods and those in low-income ones is already more canyon than crack, and if $1.7 trillion in automatic sequestration cuts are allowed to go into effect on March 1, that gap could grow even wider.

Dozens of education programs would face reduced funding, but three crucial programs — No Child Left Behind, Head Start initiatives, and the Individuals with Disabilities Act — provide the most assistance to low-income students and also face the sharpest cuts if the sequester is allowed to go into effect, as the Center for American Progress’ Juliana Herman and Kaitlin Pennington detailed in a new report:

Altogether, the sequester would cut approximately $725 million from Title I funding, potentially affecting 2,700 schools, impacting 1.2 million students, and placing 9,880 education staff at risk of losing their jobs. […]

Head Start and Early Head Start—a similar program for infants—both work to ensure that parental income does not determine whether a child will be able to learn during these influential years. But should sequestration happen next week, approximately 70,000 children will be kicked out of Head Start due to inadequate funding. […]

If sequestration goes through, funding under the Individuals with Disabilities Act could be reduced by as much as $579 million.

In all, the report estimates, the cuts would impact as many as 1.2 million children, 30,000 teachers and 2,700 schools, the overwhelming majority of which will be from low-income communities.

Recent studies have shown the devastating correlation between income and student achievement. Since the late 1980s, the gap in metrics like college completion between students from high-income and low-income households grew by more than 50 percent.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Fact Sheet: The President’s Plan for Pre-K Education for All

The President’s Commitment to Early Education

A zip code should never predetermine the quality of any child’s educational opportunities.  Yet studies show that children from low-income families are less likely to have access to high-quality early education, and less likely to enter school prepared for success.  By third grade, children from low-income families who are not reading at grade level are six times less likely to graduate from high school than students who are proficient.  Often, the high costs of private preschool and lack of public programs also narrow options for middle-class families.

High-quality early childhood education provides the foundation for all children’s success in school and helps to reduce achievement gaps.  Despite the individual and economic benefits of early education, our nation has lagged in its commitment to ensuring the provision of high quality public preschool in our children’s earliest years. The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) estimates that the United States ranks 28th out of 38 countries for the share of four-year olds enrolled in early childhood education.  And fewer than 3 in 10 four-year olds are enrolled in high-quality programs.

Preschool for All

  • The President’s proposal will improve quality and expand access to preschool, through a cost sharing partnership with all 50 states, to extend federal funds to expand high-quality public preschool to reach all low- and moderate-income four-year olds from families at or below 200% of poverty.  The U.S. Department of Education will allocate dollars to states based their share of four-year olds from low- and moderate-income families and funds would be distributed to local school districts and other partner providers to implement the program.  The proposal would include an incentive for states to broaden participation in their public preschool program for additional middle-class families, which states may choose to reach and serve in a variety of ways, such as a sliding-scale arrangement.
  • Funds will support states as they ensure that children are enrolled in high-quality programs.   In order to access federal funding, states would be required to meet quality benchmarks that are linked to better outcomes for children, which include:
    • State-level standards for early learning;
    • Qualified teachers for all preschool classrooms; and
    • A plan to implement comprehensive data and assessment systems.
  • Preschool programs across the states would meet common and consistent standards for quality across all programs, including:
    • Well-trained teachers, who are paid comparably to K-12 staff;
    • Small class sizes and low adult to child ratios;
    • A rigorous curriculum;
    • Comprehensive health and related services; and
    • Effective evaluation and review of programs.
  • The proposal also encourages states to expand the availability of full-day kindergarten.  Only 6 out of 10 of America’s kindergarten students have access to a full day of learning.  In order to ensure that our kindergartners spend the time they need in school to reach rigorous benchmarks and standards, funds under this program may also be used to expand full-day kindergarten once states have provided preschool education to low- and moderate-income four year-olds.
  • Under the President’s proposal, investment in the federal Head Start program will continue to grow.  The President’s plan will maintain and build on current Head Start investments, to support a greater share of infants, toddlers, and three-year olds in America’s Head Start centers, while state preschool settings will serve a greater share of four-year olds.

Quality Early Learning for Our Youngest Children 

  • The President will also launch a new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership program, to support states and communities that expand the availability of Early Head Start and child care providers that can meet the highest standards of quality for infants and toddlers, serving children from birth through age 3.  Funds will be awarded through Early Head Start on a competitive basis to enhance and support early learning settings; provide new, full-day, comprehensive services that meet the needs of working families; and prepare children for the transition into preschool.  This strategy – combined with an expansion of publicly funded preschool education for four-year olds – will ensure a cohesive and well-aligned system of early learning for children from birth to age five.
  • The President is proposing to expand the Administration’s evidence-based home visiting initiative, through which states are implementing voluntary programs that provide nurses, social workers, and other professionals to meet with at-risk families in their homes and connect them to assistance that impacts a child’s health, development, and ability to learn. These programs have been critical in improving maternal and child health outcomes in the early years, leaving long-lasting, positive impacts on parenting skills; children’s cognitive, language, and social-emotional development; and school readiness. This will help ensure that our most vulnerable Americans are on track from birth, and that later educational investments rest upon a strong foundation.