Tuesday, September 23, 2014 - 4:20:23 PM

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Congress Pushes for Universal Pre-K

Angela Pagano's 4-year-old son Aleksandr hated learning his numbers, letters and colors.

"Even at home, he wasn't responding to me and the things I was trying to do," said Angela Pagano, mother.
 
Aleksandr became unresponsive and didn't have any interest in learning.
 
"I think if that situation had stayed the same, I was setting him up for failure," said Angela.
 
That's when Angela entered Aleksandr into Greene Primary School's lottery for its pre-k program.

Greene Primary receives 120 thousand dollars in state funding per year for the program. But some in Congress want that money to start coming from the federal
government.
 
  "There's so many positive impacts to have that first experience of school go well for that child," said U.S.  Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
 
The Strong Start for American's Children Act would ask for 75 billion dollars from the federal government over the next 10 years to fund universal pre-k. That would provide early education to almost 2 million students a year.
 
"This takes that time in your life that's unique in anyone's life, and grasps it and makes the most of it," said Representative Richard Hanna.

Experts say high quality learning at an early age sets students up for success later in life.

"That is really critical to a child's development of their character, and if they will pursue education later in life," said Gillibrand.
 
Aleksandr was one of the lucky ones. The  Greene Primary's pre-k program only has room for 30 students, leaving another 30 on a waiting list.

"I look forward to UPK for every child. Not just for the lucky few. Because a good start in life shouldn't be a game of chance," said Angela.
 
Hanna says early learning also lowers depression, substance abuse, and incarceration rates across the country.

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