Patty Murray's Washington View: The Importance of Early Childhood Education

Senator Patty Murray
2013-06-10 19:30:44
June 10, 2013 The Importance of Early Childhood Education Two weeks ago, while the Senate was in recess, I had the opportunity to travel across the state to discuss the importance of early childhood education. I met with teachers, parents, and students at a Head Start facility in Richland, a bilingual pre-kindergarten program in Seattle, and elementary schools in Tacoma and Spokane. Early education is important for families, communities, and our economy’s future, and this issue couldn’t be more important to me personally. As you may know, it was my own experiences as a preschool teacher and a mother that got me into politics. We’ve come a long way during my career, but there’s work left to do to improve our education system. And that has to start with strong early education programs for every child in America. In Washington state, the statistics on early education are shocking: - 91% of 3 year olds are not enrolled in federal- or state- funded pre-kindergarten, - 80% of 4 year olds are not enrolled federal- or state- funded prekindergarten, - and our state ranks 31st out of 50 states in access to pre-K programs. That has to change. Children who attend high-quality early education programs are more likely to succeed in school, go on to college, and start a career. I recently introduced my Ready to Learn Act in the Senate, which would help prepare children for kindergarten by providing funding for states through a competitive process to establish and administer voluntary preschool programs. This legislation would support governors who want to build on pre-existing early childhood systems including those in schools, child care facilities, Head Start programs, or other community providers of pre-kindergarten programs. I look forward to continuing to push for this critical legislation, to ensure that all children have access to early education. “Senator Murray discusses sequestration affecting early education” www.kndu.com/story/22462661/sen-patty-murray-discusses-sequestration-affecting-early-education – KNDO “Senator visits Head Start class in Richland” www.bellinghamherald.com/2013/05/30/3031808/senator-visits-head-start-class.html – The Bellingham Herald
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June 10, 2013

The Importance of Early Childhood Education

The Importance of Early Childhood Education

Two weeks ago, while the Senate was in recess, I had the opportunity to travel across the state to discuss the importance of early childhood education.  I met with teachers, parents, and students at a Head Start facility in Richland, a bilingual pre-kindergarten program in Seattle, and elementary schools in Tacoma and Spokane.

Early education is important for families, communities, and our economy’s future, and this issue couldn’t be more important to me personally. As you may know, it was my own experiences as a preschool teacher and a mother that got me into politics. We’ve come a long way during my career, but there’s work left to do to improve our education system. And that has to start with strong early education programs for every child in America.

In Washington state, the statistics on early education are shocking:

  • 91% of 3 year olds are not enrolled in federal- or state- funded prekindergarten,
  • 80% of 4 year olds are not enrolled federal- or state- funded prekindergarten,
  • and our state ranks 31 st out of 50 states in access to pre-K programs.

That has to change. Children who attend high-quality early education programs are more likely to succeed in school, go on to college, and start a career.

I recently introduced my Ready to Learn Act in the Senate, which would help prepare children for kindergarten by providing funding for states through a competitive process to establish and administer voluntary preschool programs. This legislation would support governors who want to build on pre-existing early childhood systems including those in schools, child care facilities, Head Start programs, or other community providers of pre-kindergarten programs.  I look forward to continuing to push for this critical legislation, to ensure that all children have access to early education.

“Senator Murray discusses sequestration affecting early education” – KNDO

“Senator visits Head Start class in Richland” – The Bellingham Herald 


Combating Military Sexual Assault

Combatting Military Sexual Assault

While the Senate was in recess, I had a chance to sit down with survivors of military sexual assault in Seattle.  Our servicemembers volunteer to face danger, to put their lives on the line, to protect the country and all its people – but not the kind of dangers that we discussed that day in Seattle. 

Just last month, we heard the alarming statistics that the number of cases has increased by more than a third since 2010. And for the estimated 26,000 cases of military sexual assault in 2012, less than 3,000 of them were reported by servicemembers who were victims. What’s even more startling is that of those who bravely came forward to report the abuse, an astounding 62 percent of them were retaliated against in one way or another. And according to the Department of Veterans Affairs, about one in five female veterans treated by VA has suffered from military sexual trauma.

It is clear we need a cultural overhaul.  We need to create a system where the protection and safety of victims is unquestionable. It’s time for Congress to move on legislation that gives victims the protections they deserve to seek justice and that gives the Pentagon tools to deal with this growing crisis. That is why last month I introduced the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act, which would attack this unconscionable issue on multiple fronts. 

My bill would: 

  • empower victims with special military lawyers to help guide them through the legal process,
  • prohibit sexual contact between instructors and trainees during basic training,
  • provide the National Guard and Reserve with access to sexual assault response coordinators,
  • and would take meaningful steps to make certain there is no conflict of interest within the immediate chain of command when sexual assault charges are filed and brought to military court.

More about my bill | Bill summary

“Murray, survivors urge action on military assaults” – The News Tribune 

“Murray: Number of military sexual assaults is ‘unconscionable’” – KOMO


I-5 Bridge Collapse

The collapse of the I-5 bridge in Skagit County was another startling wake-up call to the need to reinvest in our transportation infrastructure.  This Thursday, in my role as Chairman of the Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I will question top DOT officials on the I-5 bridge collapse, the current condition of bridges and infrastructure, and the investments necessary to improve conditions nationwide.  This hearing will be webcast at 7AM PST.

Read more


Continuing to Push for a Budget Conference

Last week, I returned to the Senate floor to urge Republican leadership to listen to the many Republican senators who have recently called for a bipartisan budget conference, and allow the Senate and House to begin negotiations under regular order. I again requested unanimous consent to move to conference and was blocked.  This marks Senate Democrats’ twelfth attempt to begin formal budget negotiations with the House since the Senate Budget passed 82 days ago.

In my speech, I expressed my strong agreement with Senator McCain and the many other Senate Republicans who have bucked their leadership and called for a bipartisan budget conference, and noted the Republican excuses for blocking conference—demanding a preconference “framework,” imposing preconditions on bipartisan negotiations, and asking for a “do-over” of the budget floor debate they strongly praised—just aren’t holding up under scrutiny. I called on the minority of Senate Republicans who are blocking a budget conference to recognize that their strategy of delaying until the next manufactured crisis is unsustainable, agree to start formal bipartisan budget negotiations, and join Democrats at the table ready to compromise.

Watch my speech  |  Read more

“John McCain tired of ‘fruitless’ budget fight” - Politico

“Senate déjà vu: Budget conference request edition” - Roll Call


Keeping College Affordable

Keeping College Affordable

I was extremely disappointed after Senate Republicans blocked legislation last week that would maintain low student loan interest rates for millions of American college students.  If Congress does not act before July 1, the interest rates for federal student loans will double from 3.4% to 6.8%, an effective tax hike for students that would raise college costs by thousands of dollars.

Families and students are working harder and paying more than ever for a college degree, but unfortunately, Republicans in Congress showed again how out of touch they are with the issues that matter to everyday Americans. Refusing to extend low student loan interest rates for college students is effectively voting to raise taxes on low-income students and their families who are investing in higher education and working to strengthen our country’s economic future.  We’re now less than a month away from forcing students to pay more for their education, and I will continue to urge my colleagues to support American college students.

In Washington state, 56% of college students rely on student loans to finance their education, and those students graduate with an average of more than $23,870 in student loan debt. The commonsense legislation blocked by Senate Republicans last week would keep student loan interest rates at 3.4% for the next two years while Congress works toward a long-term solution to the skyrocketing costs of higher education.  I will continue fighting to ensure our students get the support they need to access higher education.

Read more

“Senate defeats bills to keep student loan rates low”  - USA Today

“Competing plans on student loan rates fail in Senate” - Los Angeles Times


A Victory for Everett

Last week, I was so happy to announce the United States Air Force (USAF) approved the transfer of the Mukilteo Defense Fuel Support Point, commonly known as the Mukilteo Tank Farm, including roughly 20 acres of land and facilities to the Port of Everett and the U.S. Department of Commerce. This decision is a victory for the Everett community and the stakeholders involved with this transfer who all worked together to find a solution to this complex, and often difficult process. I’m proud to have taken part in crafting this agreement, and I’m confident that once completed, the transfer approved last week will benefit the community and our state for years to come.

The transfer will play an important role in revitalizing the Mukilteo waterfront.  In addition to benefiting the Port, land transferred to the U.S. Department of Commerce will support efforts to modernize the Northwest Fisheries Science Center field research station, benefiting ongoing long-term studies on the health of Puget Sound and providing improved access to educational opportunities to elementary, high school and college students.

Read more

“New ferry dock in Mukilteo two steps closer”  -The Everett Herald   

“Site available for new Mukilteo ferry terminal” - Seattle PI


Twitter Round-Up

Twitter Round-Up - June 10, 2013

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Senator Patty Murray
154 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

Phone: (202) 224-2621
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