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ABCs of Early Education
The Bedford Times-Mail
by: Carol Johnson

After one month in Congress, U.S. Rep. Trey Hollingsworth was back in his district Thursday. One of his stops was the Hoosier Uplands Head Start in Bedford, where the freshman lawmaker greeted the preschoolers with enthusiastic high fives.

Hollingsworth, R-Ind., spent about an hour in the preschool touring classrooms, talking to teachers and learning more about the federally funded early education program from Debbie Beeler, director of children's services at Hoosier Uplands.

Bedford Head Start has an enrollment of 144 children ages 3-5, whose parents make at or near the federal poverty level.

As Beeler led the tour of five classrooms, Hollingsworth asked about the curriculum, parental involvement, use of classroom Smart Boards and academic progress of children after they leave Head Start.

"You read the research on how important early education is … to see it first hand makes a big difference," said Hollingsworth.

Hollingsworth, who was elected in November, represents the Ninth District, a large swath that runs from Jeffersonville to Greenwood.

Hollingsworth's visit to Bedford was at the invitation of Beeler, who ran into him outside his office during a recent trip she made to Washington, D.C.

"Good policy is informed by real experiences," he said at the end of the visit. "Getting out in the district, talking to people … you only get that when you are out and about. Too many politicians are in D.C. and they only talk with legislators. They don't take the time to talk with their constituents. There's a lot we need to change."

Beeler said she wanted Hollingsworth to know the positive effect early education has, whether in the classroom or home visits to families. Of the 60 people employed by Hoosier Uplands Head Start in four counties, 26 are either a current or past Head Start parent.

"We considered it an honor to have Congressman Hollingsworth visit the Bedford Head Start Center today. His desire to learn about the program first hand is so refreshing. The issue of early childhood education, especially for low-income children, should not be a Republican issue or a Democrat issue, it should be an American issue," she said.

In the short time he has been in Washington, Hollingsworth said he remains focused on his campaign goal — to represent and serve the people.

"That's what D.C. lacks. My priority is that I'm carrying the needs and concerns of the district to Washington to be an advocate to them, " he said. "Washington needs to be more focused on how do we invest for a better future."

Hollingsworth said his legislative goals are to work to reduce regulatory bills so businesses can increase their investment and to work on the federal budget, "so we don't hand this huge debt to our kids.”

This article originally appeared in The Bedford Times-Mail and was written by Carol Johnson.

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