Senator Begich Introduces Bill to Expand Access to Early Education
March 30, 2017
Dear Neighbor,
As many of you know, providing access to high-quality early education programs for all Alaskans is one of my legislative priorities.  I am so proud to introduce SB99, the Alaska Early Education Program Bill which would ensure more young Alaskans have the opportunity to benefit from pre-K.   
Smart investments in our oil and gas royalties and the PFD have made our state one of the most economically equitable in the country.  Is time to make similar smart investments in our kids with an eye toward raising the next generation of Alaskans ready to make a positive impact on the state.
Senator Begich in the Senate Education Committee.

SB99 addresses the lack of access to high-quality preschool education of children across the state. Research from biologists, psychologists, and economists shows that providing access to high-quality early education programs is an investment in our future.  Universal early education, when available to students before they enter Kindergarten, improves school readiness, reading levels, and long-term economic performance. 
Long-term studies such as the Perry Preschool project also suggest students with access to highquality preschool are less likely to be incarcerated and less likely to receive government assistance as adults.  Alaska’s current pre-Kindergarten programs – such as those in Anchorage, Mat-Su, the Lower Kuskokwim School District, and Nome – and our early education programs including Head Start, Best Beginnings, and Parents as Teachers, provide access to families for such high-quality early education, but are, according to our Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), only available to 10% of Alaska’s four-year olds.  SB99 would take lessons learned from those programs and provide all school districts with the opportunity to develop high-quality early education for their students beginning with the lowest performing.

SB99 addresses the lack of access to high-quality preschool education of children across the state. Research from biologists, psychologists, and economists shows that providing access to high-quality early education programs is an investment in our future.  Universal early education, when available to students before they enter Kindergarten, improves school readiness, reading levels, and long-term economic performance. 
Long-term studies such as the Perry Preschool project also suggest students with access to high quality preschool are less likely to be incarcerated and less likely to receive government assistance as adults.  Alaska’s current pre-Kindergarten programs – such as those in Anchorage, Mat-Su, the Lower Kuskokwim School District, and Nome – and our early education programs including Head Start, Best Beginnings, and Parents as Teachers, provide access to families for such high-quality early education, but are, according to our Department of Education and Early Development (DEED), only available to 10% of Alaska’s four-year olds.  SB99 would take lessons learned from those programs and provide all school districts with the opportunity to develop high-quality early education for their students beginning with the lowest performing.

The markers for success develop early in life, and brain science underscores that how we use our brains at those crucial early years before we enter Kindergarten – as well as how prepared we are when we enter our K – 12 education  - have a dramatic impact on how well we will do in school and life. In particular, research shows us that those who live in poverty have an incredibly difficult time catching up with others if they come to school ill-prepared. That same research shows that those who have a high-quality preschool experience go on to future academic and personal success.  Studies reported in national media as recently as February 2017 have identified that every dollar invested in high-quality Pre-K can save up to $7 in long-term government expense by reducing the need for remedial education, and involvement in the criminal justice and public assistance systems.

Early education is an imperative for our state. When examining Alaska’s long-term economy, it is essential to consider how we can both increase Alaskans’ productivity as well as reduce potential drains resulting from the unrealized potential of our citizens. Early education is part of that equation.

For more information, contact Sydney Kaufman in my office. I look forward to hearing your thoughts!

All my best,

Senator Tom Begich 
Senate District J

CONTACT ME
907-465-3704
Sen.Tom.Begich@akleg.gov