Research proves that a strong educational foundation for children during their early years is critical for his or her future success. The majority of Americans support the idea of early childhood education and paid family leave, whether to care for a new child, an illness, or a family member. Both Republicans and Democrats have come a long way toward finding agreement on this issue, but Congress has yet to turn that growing consensus into actionable, bipartisan policy.
On July 18th, the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Task Force on Paid Family Leave held a conversation about America needing bipartisanship on early childhood education and paid family leave, why the country needs a federal approach, and how the lack of paid family leave is impacting American families and children. The discussion’s panelists included Senators Chris Dodd and Rick Santorum, and Ivanka Trump. It was livestreamed on CNN and C-SPAN.
Each year, the BPC focuses on one social issue that they feel isn’t getting enough attention. They bring in academia and industry experts with the goal to craft a bipartisan proposal that both Democrats and Republicans will submit before Congress. As the BPC takes a closer look at the need for early childhood education and paid family leave, they asked Sylvan Learning’s Vice President of Education, Emily Levitt, to participate in the conversation.
“In reaching out to potential partners, BPC considers representatives at companies, foundations, academic institutions and other Non-governmental institutions who would have backgrounds and experience that are relevant to specific projects we are leading,” said Rick Rodero, Senior Director at BPC. “Emily Levitt, as VP of Education at Sylvan, and with a strong background in academia, curriculum development, and in leading business initiatives seemed like a natural fit. This was confirmed in our first meeting with Emily and in subsequent conversations and interactions.”
Levitt feels the BPC’s work is important for two reasons. The first is that there are unique learning needs of students at an early age. Levitt sees this first-hand in the pre-K reading and math programs that Sylvan offers. Secondly, because Sylvan Learning locations see the full spectrum of students, they know if students don’t get a good foundation academically before they enter Kindergarten, they end up suffering down the road when older.
“Sylvan gets a lot of students at the crisis point, but if that’s something that can be mitigated when they’re little, they wouldn’t need as much help when they come to us,” Levitt said.
This was the second event that Levitt attended, but more are planned throughout the year. She has also visited BPC’s office to meet with their early childhood team members and discuss what they’re working on, the kind of research they’re doing and looking for certain ways that Sylvan can contribute expertise to the cause.
“As a leader in the education industry for nearly 40 years, we are honored to be a part of this conversation,” said Sylvan Learning CEO John McAuliffe. “It is very heartening to see representatives from both political parties recognize the importance of early childhood education and to be fully committed to make it more accessible and more effective for every child in the country.”
Rodero says the BPC believes a key goal for quality early education is kindergarten readiness, and Sylvan Learning offers parents and students a proven approach to meeting that goal.
“BPC believes the right solution to improving access and quality in early childhood education will take collaboration from a diverse set of stakeholders at the local, state, and federal levels and we want Sylvan Learning to be at the table,” Rodero said.