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California, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia Join NASBE’s Early Childhood Education Network


Alexandria, Va.—The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) welcomes three new state boards of education to the NASBE Early Childhood Education (ECE) State Network: California, North Carolina, and the District of Columbia. This year, NASBE has sought out states seeking to lead efforts to support a well-qualified, equitable, well-compensated ECE workforce and build on existing innovative strategies to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.

NASBE established the ECE State Network in 2017, and members have made tremendous progress and showcased state boards’ key role in leading initiatives to advance ECE. NASBE has documented the network’s achievements in recent publications and events. California, North Carolina, and Washington, DC, will join eight states and Guam in the network: Delaware, Guam, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, New York, and Washington.

California has expanded quality learning opportunities for three- and four-year-olds with recent investments in universal prekindergarten as part of the K-12 system. The state is on track to educate approximately 450,000 four-year-olds to ensure the youngest learners are ready to succeed in kindergarten and beyond. Through the California State Preschool Program, the state is also expanding early learning opportunities to low-income preschoolers.

“California is building strong foundations for its youngest learners and pursuing innovative strategies to ensure that all of our children are ready to succeed in school and life. We are thrilled to learn with and from colleagues across the nation about best practices and strategies in different geographies,” says California board member Kim Pattillo Brownson.

North Carolina has also led the way in providing equitable access to early learning. Since 2001, they have supplied a state-funded prekindergarten program for at-risk 4-year-olds from low-income families, and the North Carolina State Board of Education adopted in-depth goals on its strategic plan to improve the ECE workforce and raise public pre-K enrollment.

“As a state, we have worked diligently to increase the number of four-year-old children enrolled in state pre-K programs,” says Eric Davis, chair of the state board. “As the North Carolina State Board of Education continues to study additional strategies to inform decision making, we are confident that the partnership with NASBE’s Early Childhood Education Network will help us learn from other states on using data to inform decision-making in early education and actions to increase pre-K program access to four-year-old children.”

The District of Columbia State Board of Education is a strong advocate for education policy and the ECE field. Already, Washington, DC, stands out as a leader in providing high-quality, affordable ECE through its free, universal prekindergarten program. The DC state board is in a prime position to engage other state education agencies in building a more effective, accessible ECE system with a well-supported workforce.

“The DC State Board of Education is proud of the work our Office of the State Superintendent (OSSE) has done to ensure that DC families have access to high-quality child care and pre-K programming in both schools and community settings,” says Jessica Sutter, PhD, president of the state board. “We are especially grateful for the ongoing efforts of the DC Council and OSSE to ensure that ECE teachers are compensated fairly for the critical work they do to care for and educate young children across the District.”

“NASBE’s ECE Network has had great success working with states over the years to advance the ball on early education access and workforce development,” says Paolo DeMaria, NASBE’s president and CEO. “The Network is more vital than ever coming out of the pandemic: Too many of our youngest learners are still struggling academically, socially, and emotionally. A well-qualified, well-supported early education workforce can help close gaps and ensure these youngsters’ long-term success.”

NASBE’s ECE Network is supported by the Foundation for Child Development and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Learn more about the network and opportunities for getting involved by contacting NASBE Director of Early Learning Winona Hao.

NASBE serves as the only membership organization for state boards of education. A nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, NASBE elevates state board members’ voices in national and state policymaking, facilitates the exchange of informed ideas, and supports members in advancing equity and excellence in public education for students of all races, genders, and circumstances. Learn more at www.nasbe.org.

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