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A strong start for all our kids

by Suzanne Bonamici

Across Oregon, thousands of 3 and 4 year-olds are settling into their first full week of preschool. Not surprisingly, studies show that education in these first few years sets kids on the path to do better for life – in school and ultimately in their careers.

Making preschool available and affordable for as many children as possible must be a priority for our country, which is why I’m working in the Education and Workforce Committee to pass bipartisan legislation that would do just that – the Strong Start for America’s Children Act.

Early education is important, but it’s not enough. Nearly half of all children born in Oregon are born into poverty. According to a recent study by the Brookings Institute, children living in poverty tend to live in a more chaotic environment with less access to health care and nutritious food, less help learning to read, and other factors that can have a negative effect on their education. We won’t be able to fix the educational disparities if we ignore the challenges our most vulnerable children are facing at home.

Oregon has been leading the way to address these challenges. Many local government agencies, non-profit organizations, charitable foundations, and community leaders have joined in the ongoing effort to break the cycle of poverty, improve our education system and graduation rates, and to ensure that our children have what they need to succeed. I’m proud of what our state has accomplished so far, and I look forward bringing the lessons we’re learning in Oregon back to Congress.

Giving all of our children an equal opportunity to succeed in life is a priority we can all share and work toward together. I hope that my colleagues – and you – will stand with me on this issue.

With appreciation, Suzanne

Posted on September 9, 2014.