From the Office of
Representative Kathryn Swan
Early Childhood Education bill receives strong bipartisan support
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo - Rep. Kathryn Swan (R-Cape Girardeau) and John Wright (D-Columbia) have partnered on a bill to significantly expand high quality early childhood education in Missouri.
The measure, known as HB 1689, would allow local school districts to receive state support through the Missouri Foundation Formula for operating high quality pre-kindergarten programs. Funding for each district would be tied to the number of participating students aged three and four who are eligible for free and reduced-price lunches. Participation would be entirely voluntary for families.
"Our goal is to ensure that more Missouri children have the chance to enter Kindergarten prepared to succeed in school," said Rep. swan, citing evidence that children who enter Kindergarten behind grade level in basic skills are more likely to struggle in school and have to repeat grades later.
"Over the long term," added Rep. Wright, "improving educational outcomes is the surest way to increase economic productivity and reduce the cost of government."
HB 1689 has strong bipartisan support in the Missouri Legislature. In addition to Reps. Swan and Wright, co-sponsors of the bill include the Republican Chairmen of all three education committees in the House of Representatives as well as Democratic Minority Leader Jake Hummel.
"If there's one thing that my colleagues and I all agree on, it's that partisanship has no place when it comes to helping our children succeed in school," said Wright.
Studies have shown that children who participate in high quality early learning programs are more likely to graduate from high school and are less likely to have to rely upon state assistance as adults.