April 15, 2020
Statement on Head Start Funding
The Washington Teachers’ Union (WTU) is proud to support the many early education teachers across the District who create warm, welcoming learning environments for our city’s youngest students. The federal Head Start program is the gold standard for early education and the city has used the funding to enhance Pre-Kindergarten (PK3 and PK4) programs to offer additional supports and wraparound services that promote early learning, health, and family well-being for students across the District. Our city’s investment in early education has paid dividends helping to improve the readiness of students for elementary school and helping schools attract and build relationships with families, boosting enrollment.
The WTU is deeply concerned by DC Public Schools’ (DCPS) decision to not seek federal Head Start funding for the 2020-21 school year and the impact this decision will have on students and our school communities. While DCPS has indicated that allocations to local schools will not shift as a result of this decision, local school budgets have largely failed to keep up with rising costs and inflation in recent years resulting in cuts at the school level. Last year’s budget (Fiscal Year 2020) saw 20 DC public schools, including 17 in Ward 7 or Ward 8, face steep budget cuts. The WTU was extremely concerned with initial budget allocations for the upcoming school year (Fiscal Year 2021) – while not fully released and subject to change due to the public health emergency – which were insufficient to maintain current programming across all schools.
The WTU believes that we must continue to provide high-quality programming and wrap-around services for all Pre-K programs in the District. While the current public health crisis couldn’t have been predicted when this decision was made, our city and many others across the nation will face budget challenges in the coming year. The District shouldn’t be leaving federal resources on the table.
Elizabeth Davis, President
Washington Teachers’ Union