Washington Senator Works To Expand Early Education Programs Nationwide

By Tom Bacon

Washington Sen. Patty Murray hopes she can persuade a fractured Congress to go back to the basics - the ABCs of early education.

Murray is putting together a bill to expand early education nationwide.

She wants to carry out President Obama's call for a public pre-K program in which the federal government would partner with states to fund early education for all low-income 5-year-olds over the next decade.

The president proposed the initiative – to be funded with a tobacco tax increase – in his State of the Union message this year.

Murray said the U.S. has done little to address the need for pre-school education. She said the country is in the ranks of also-rans in the proportion of 4-year-olds enrolled in pre-kindergarten and in overall public funding for early education.

But Murray, who was a preschool teacher before she went into politics, knows the idea is a long shot, given the still-limping economy, sequestration cuts and a polarized Congress.

Murray told a gathering at the Center for American Progress that budget debates in Congress have been focused on averting artificial crises, making it tough to focus on policies that address real, long-term problems such as maintaining U.S. leadership in the 21st Century.
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