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U.S. Rep. Pushing Education, Early Education Initiatives

As another school year comes to a close, education and education funding remain among the top concerns for parents, teachers and public officials.

President Barack Obama's “Early Learning Days of Action” initiative was highlighted in New York last week as Congressman Paul Tonko read to 16 children enrolled in what's called "The Butterfly Class" at Albany Head Start. The pre-K students were delighted with Tonko's chosen work: "Welcome To Kindergarten" by Anne Rockwell.

Events like this are used to show support for the Obama initiative, which calls for an investment of $75 billion in early childhood education programs for kids from birth to age five and builds on new investment in pre-K education in New York.

Billy Easton, Executive Director of the Alliance For Quality Education, says pre-K is the most cost-effective investment that can be made in early-childhood education. Congressman Tonko adds that "far too many" kids entering kindergarten are already "behind" fellow-students.  Albany Head Start Early Learning Supervisor Kenyette Curie works with 90 families and their children - she says she has seen the difference pre-K makes in shaping minds and establishing social skills.

On Saturday, thousands attended a public education rally outside the Capitol in Albany: the biggest concern at the New York State United Teachers event was what the union terms as an “over-reliance” on standardized testing under the state’s Common Core standards and the funding it takes to administer those tests.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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