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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release January 6, 2000
                      VICE PRESIDENT GORE ANNOUNCES 

     Washington, DC -- Vice President Gore announced today that the

Administration will seek $30 million in the FY 2001 budget to ensure that our young children are being taught by well-trained professionals.

"Although parents are the first and best teachers, it is essential that we provide high-quality teachers to support children's learning at this critical juncture" Vice President Gore said. "This funding will dramatically increase the number of highly-qualified teachers who are preparing our young children for success in school."

Research shows that quality pre-school can lead to higher IQ's, higher reading and achievement levels, higher graduation rates and greater success in the workplace. Well-prepared teachers are essential to creating the kind of high-quality preschool programs that enhance children's school-readiness and can have a lifelong positive impact on a child's learning.

The Early Childhood Educator Professional Development initiative outlined in the Administration's Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization proposal would create professional development opportunities for early childhood educators who serve high concentrations of children living in poverty. The funding would provide competitive grants to local partnerships of entities that provide professional development for teachers such as universities, and early childhood education programs (such as local school districts or Head Start agencies). The initiative would focus on equipping early childhood educators with the tools they need to help children develop the language and literacy skills that are the foundations for academic success.

Currently, 40 percent of preschool teachers have only a high school diploma and another 10 percent have a two-year degree from a community or junior college. About half of all assistant teachers and aides have no more that a high school diploma. One of the most important factors behind a child's educational success is having a caring, competent, and committed educator. With more preparation, early childhood teachers would be better able to contribute to the language and literacy development of the children in the care.

Foundations of school success are laid in the early years and well-trained educators are crucial to improving the quality of early childhood education programs. This $30 million dollar investment will establish a program that will reach half of the early childhood educators serving high-poverty areas in the next five years. The program will help early childhood educators to obtain high-quality professional development and improve their knowledge of, and skills at, working with young children and their families, particularly in developing language and literacy skills.