Tester to Administration: Don’t let good intentions stand between our children and their education

Senator pushes to delay proposed rule that will reduce access to Head Start for 126,000 students

(Billings, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today strongly urged the Obama Administration to reconsider a proposed rule that could deny many Montana students access to early childhood education through Head Start.

In a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Tester said the proposed expansion of Head Start to full-day, full-year classes is a good goal, but uncertainty about the availability of funding could threaten Head Start services for up to 126,000 children.

“Head Start gives our nation’s children the skills and habits they need to be successful in elementary school and beyond. I ask you to ensure that your good intentions do not stand between our children and the education they deserve,” Tester, a former teacher, wrote. “While it is important to explore every possible option to prepare our children for their futures, we need to do so in a way that accepts difficult realities and provides adequate time and flexibility, so that we don’t undermine existing Head Starts.”

Tester wrote that while requiring full-day and full-year classes at Head Start would lead to greater educational outcomes for some students, this proposed rule would pick winners and losers by threatening access to early education for thousands of students.

Earlier this year, House Republicans passed a budget that cuts $19 billion from Head Start over the next decade.

Tester helped pass the Improving Head Start for School Readiness Act of 2007 which directed the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to improve regulations for Head Start.

Head Starts are located in 61 cities across Montana.

Tester’s letter to Secretary Burwell is available HERE.