U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced that the Fiscal Year 2009 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) appropriations bill, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, included $3 million for Head Start Centers of Excellence. After no funding for the Centers of Excellence was initially included in the Labor-HHS-Education bill, Alexander secured the $3 million.
“I am very pleased that this bill includes $3 million for Centers of Excellence,” said Alexander. “This is a great start to getting this program up and running so more children can grab hold of our nation’s dream that anything is possible. This funding will allow at least 15 Head Start centers to be designated as a Center of Excellence and serve as models to inform other programs on successful strategies to ensure that more children are able to start school ready to learn and eventually set high goals for themselves.”
Alexander was the author of a provision – included in the Head Start reauthorization bill that became law in 2007 – to establish 200 Centers of Excellence around the country to serve as model Head Start programs. These 200 new Centers of Excellence will help provide examples of how to efficiently coordinate state, local and federal efforts in early childhood education for other programs to emulate. These Centers of Excellence would be nominated by the governors, and each Center of Excellence would receive federal bonus grant of at least $200,000 in each of 5 years.
Alexander, who is a member of both the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee responsible for Head Start, said that the program has grown to a nearly $7 billion federal program that has served more than 900,000 children. Last year the program served 20,000 Tennessee students with $118 million in federal funding.
As governor, Alexander led Tennessee to become the first state to pay teachers more for teaching well. Alexander also is a former U.S. Secretary of Education.