Senate passes Cano’s Early Educator Investment Act and legislation which requires water bottle filling stations in schools
STATE HOUSE – Two bills sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Dist. 8, Pawtucket) were passed by the Senate tonight.
The first piece of legislation (2021-S 0066) passed by the Senate, The Rhode Island Early Educator Investment Act, would require the Children’s Cabinet, in conjunction with the Department of Education, to develop and implement strategies to improve the compensation of early educators.
“All of us here today know the vital importance and positive impact that early educators have on our children. Study after study has demonstrated the educational and developmental benefits our young children receive when they are cared for and educated by high-quality early educators, family home visit specialists and early childhood professionals. If we truly care about providing our children with the best opportunities to succeed later in life, we must invest in their development and this is only possible by ensuring that our kids are provided with the best quality care possible. And in order to do this, we must pay our early educators the wages that they deserve for doing such an important job for our society,” said Senator Cano.
The bill would establish goals for early educator wages. Early educators, almost all of whom are women and many are people of color, are among the lowest paid workers in the state. Child care, preschool, family home visiting and Early Intervention programs struggle to recruit and retain excellent staff. The bill ensures that educators that have earned early childhood credentials and demonstrate effective practice are rewarded with increased wages, comparable to similarly qualified K-12 educators.
Senator Cano also participated today in a virtual event sponsored by the National Collaborative for Infants and Toddlers to give a presentation on the legislation. The focus of the event was elected officials from several states who both understand the issues related to the devastatingly low wages of this workforce and are working to change these systems of economic oppression.
The second bill (2021-S 0459) passed by the Senate requires all new school buildings, and those undergoing major renovations or substantial repair or replacement to plumbing systems, to install water bottle filling stations.
“Water is essential to a child’s healthy development and every student in Rhode Island deserves to have access to free and healthy drinking water during the school day. This is especially important due to the rising obesity rates within our student population. Drinking water positively impacts our children’s cognitive performance and can improve children’s fine motor skills and visual attention, which helps with learning activities, such as reading. This is the right thing to do for our kids and I am grateful that the Senate passed this important bill for our children’s health,” said Senator Cano.
The legislation’s purpose is to ensure that all newly constructed schools and those schools undergoing major building renovations incorporate adequate water bottle filling stations to increase access to free, easily accessible, safe and good-tasting drinking water on school property.
Both pieces of legislation now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.
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