NAESP Applauds Early Childhood Focus in 2014 State of the Union Address

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The Association encourages President Obama to take action this year to build the capacity of principals.


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The nation’s principals support the president’s vision of expanding high-quality early learning experiences to ensure that every child will have the opportunity to be college- and career-ready and become part of a productive workforce.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) applauds President Obama for recognizing the nation’s teachers and principals for their hard work to improve schools and student performance in his 2014 State of the Union address. NAESP also supports the president’s call for investing in and expanding high-quality prekindergarten and early childhood education, and many of the priorities he put forward to improve higher education and technology program enhancements, including connecting 20 million students in 15,000 schools through modernization of the E-Rate program.

As the president pledged to “take steps without legislation to expand opportunity for more American families,” NAESP encourages the president to act swiftly over the coming months to shift federal policies to better support schools and reinforce the authority and autonomy of principals.

Focus on Early Education

NAESP supports President Obama’s attention to working with states and local communities to invest in high-quality programs for the nation’s earliest learners. He called for universal, high-quality preschool for all four-year-olds and noted a continued vision to bring together stakeholders to further the momentum to expand early learning in over thirty states.    

NAESP has actively supported legislation introduced in Congress that is aligned to the president’s plan to expand the nation’s early learning programs. The Association has long worked toward creating a continuum of seamless learning for children through high-quality pre-kindergarten settings through grade 3, which research has proved will improve student success, reduce dropout rates, and increase college attendance. With one in four American children currently living in poverty, high-quality early childhood education is also a solution to break the cycle by providing rich educational experiences for every student in order to improve the health of our economy and global competitiveness.

“The nation’s principals support the president’s vision of expanding high-quality early learning experiences to ensure that every child will have the opportunity to be college- and career-ready and become part of a productive workforce,” said NAESP Executive Director Gail Connelly. “The profound and lasting effect of a first-class early learning experience, especially during the crucial years between pre-kindergarten and third grade, underscores the vital need for Congress to work with the president over the coming year to pass legislation already introduced in the House and Senate,” Connelly added.

The Strong Start for America’s Children Act of 2013 was introduced by Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, Tom Harkin (D-IA); Ranking Member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, George Miller (R-CA) and Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY). NAESP will be working with lawmakers this year to advance this legislation.

A Year of Action

NAESP urges the president and Congress to work together to improve federal policies that build the capacity of principals to implement reforms that have been put into place since 2008. Historically, principals have been overlooked in federal policy, despite 30 years of research that shows that school leadership is crucial to student achievement and to the improvement of schools. Now, more than ever, principals are responsible for implementing myriad school reforms that require seismic shifts in teaching and learning, as well as in instructional leadership practice. Despite several Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) reauthorization bills introduced over the past several years that will support the role of principals, including the School Principal Recruitment and Training Act of 2013 introduced by Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA), Congress continues to struggle to pass legislation to uphold and support the nation’s principals.

“As the president contemplates executive action this year, NAESP urges the administration to prioritize measures that will improve federal programs to better recruit, prepare, and support the nation’s principals,” said NAESP President Nancy Flatt Meador. “Principals are working hard day in and day out to provide the opportunity for every student to succeed. They deserve tools, resources, and recognition of their authority and autonomy to make curricular decisions as their role becomes increasingly complex and demanding. Instructional leaders cannot wait any longer and deserve appropriate support from the federal level that is commensurate with the demands of their job, which require them to lead schools to higher levels of performance,” Meador further noted.


Established in 1921, the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP) leads in the advocacy and support for elementary and middle school principals in the United States and internationally. NAESP supports principals as the primary catalysts for creating lasting foundations for learning through policy development, advocacy, professional development programs, and resources for effective instructional leadership. NAESP advances the profession on behalf of all principals, providing specialized support and mentoring for early career principals. Key focus areas include pre-K-3 education, school safety, technology and digital learning, and capacity-building educator evaluation. For more information about NAESP, please visit


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