Sen. Patty Murray Discusses Sequestration Affecting Education - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Sen. Patty Murray Discusses Sequestration Affecting Early Education

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RICHLAND, Wash. - NBC Right Now taking a closer look at how sequestration is affecting early child-hood education. Senator Patty Murray visited the Benton Franklin Head Start Headquarters Thursday to talk about the issue.

Those federal budget cuts have already made an impact on our local head start programs with a $200,000 cut in this year's budget. During her visit to the head start office Thursday, Senator Murray even did her part in educating the kids.

"We did eliminate 37 slots and that's going to eliminate about six staff positions and plus all of my management team are taking 20 unpaid days during the summer," said Jim Skucy with Benton Franklin Head Start.

And three full time staff members will also be forced to take time off.

"Early childhood education makes a difference for the child. They come to school ready to learn, they're healthier, they graduate from high school at a much higher rate, they are prepared for the workforce and they stay out of our jails," Sen. Murray said.

"When you take those kids and give them a solid foundation, especially at risk kids, and then give them a pathway to success - we're not going to see them on the back end," said Cmdr. Craig Littrell with the Kennewick Police Department.

Leaders in education and law enforcement also talked about early education during a panel discussion Thursday afternoon.

"Those kids that start ahead, stay ahead. Those kids that start behind, stay behind, even in the best school systems," said Eric Boltz with the Richland School District.

Senator Murray introduced her Ready to Learn Act in the Senate, a program that would offer a funding match for states to begin early learning programs.

"Anybody who says 'I don't think we can fund this,' what we are funding now is very full jails, businesses that can't grow because they don't have a qualified workforce. Kids that end up in trouble on our streets and the costs of all that are enormous," she said.

It is estimated that more than 90 percent of three year olds and 80 percent of four year olds do not attend pre-k programs, and start kindergarten behind their peers.