(Host) Vermont Senator James Jeffords spoke at Friday’s meeting of the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. In his remarks, Jeffords reiterated his reasons for leaving the Republican Party last May to become an independent. Jeffords also spoke at length about education, reiterating his call for adequate funding to improve the nation’s schools and calling for increased federal funding for special education.
Jeffords also emphasized the need for early childhood education. He told reporters that this country lags behind other industrialized nations in teaching toddlers and preschoolers. He says the U.S. needs to go beyond existing childcare programs:
(Jeffords) “Childcare is available in the United States to young parents. In many cases, it costs more than $10,000 a year per child. This is almost twice the cost of going to many public colleges. However, the great majority of childcare in this country has inadequate educational components, especially Head Start. There’s a huge shortage of well trained professionals in this area. This is primary reason for the forty percent of fourth graders [who] can’t read at the third grade level.”
(Host) Jeffords told the National Press Club that he and Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd are working on a program to provide educational opportunities to all young children. Jeffords says he hopes legislation enacting such a program will pass Congress later this year.