Durbin, Hirono, Senate & House Democrats, Champion Initiative To Expand Access To Early Education

PRE-K Act Ensures Access To High Quality Learning Programs

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) introduced the Providing Resources Early for Kids (PRE-K) Act, legislation to expand access to high-quality early learning programs for children from birth to age five. The PRE-K Act helps more kids arrive at kindergarten ready to succeed by establishing a federal-state partnerships that incentivizes  states to both improve the quality of state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need.  

“The early years are some of the most crucial in the educational development of our children. Keeping a child on the right track and instilling a love for learning early in life can make all the difference later. We must make sure no one starts behind the curve when they enter the classroom and that’s why expanding access to these early childhood education programs should be a no-brainer,” Durbin said.

“The investments we make in our youngest keiki are paid back in full by enhancing our nation’s competitiveness in our global economy,” said Senator Hirono. “Hawaii educators have told me that many kids start kindergarten already behind. Our children deserve the best chance to succeed and our educators need all the tools we can give them to put students on track to being lifelong learners. That’s why, beginning when I was Hawaii’s Lieutenant Governor 20 years ago, I have been committed to quality early learning to help kids start kindergarten ready to succeed. Where you live should not determine what chance you get in life, and this bill will ensure states like Hawaii can create effective, quality state preschool programs. This bill focuses on quality because it is what makes the biggest difference in educational outcomes. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate and moving this bill forward.”

A recent White House report summarizes what decades of research has shown: high quality early learning yields over $8 for every $1 invested, by helping kids learn to read on time, stay in school, avoid crime, get good jobs, pay taxes, and avoid other social services later in life. The PRE-K Act creates a new federal-state partnership to improve state preschool programs and expand to serve more children in need. States that already have a high-quality preschool program could get grants to improve quality and expand to serve more children. Other states with small or newer programs could apply for startup funds if they submit a plan to establish a high-quality preschool program within two years. PRE-K Act funds could help states hire and train early educators; expand preschool days and hours; or provide comprehensive services such as health screenings and meals.

The PRE-K Act was introduced with the following original cosponsors: Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).


Similar legislation is also being introduced in the House by Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Mike Honda (D-CA)


The PRE-K Act of 2015 has been endorsed by the following national and Hawaii organizations:


  •  American Association of School Administrators (AASA)
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW)
  • American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
  • Association of Education Service Agencies (AESA)
  • Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
  • Council of Administrators of Special Education - CEC
  • Early Care and Education Consortium
  • First Focus Campaign for Children
  • Good Beginnings Alliance
  • Hawaii Business Roundtable
  • HighScope Educational Research Foundation
  • Learning Disabilities Association of America
  • National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
  • National Association of State Directors of Special Education (NASDSE)
  • National Education Association (NEA)
  • National Rural Education Advocacy Coalition (NREAC)
  • National Women’s Law Center (NWLC)
  • Parents As Teachers
  • School Social Work Association of America (SSWA)