Over the last few weeks, I have read with dismay headlines that claim “Pre-K is a waste of money.” These unfounded remarks should inspire us to call to action.
This upcoming year, a chapter that I have written for a book called “Innovative Practices in Early Childhood Education” will be published by Springer. My article is entitled “Climbing the Mountain: Tennessee Journey to Quality Prekindergarten.” In it, I wrote the background of the Pre-K movement across the United States, and the massive support for the initiative. Next, I zeroed in on Tennessee’s focus on providing a quality program for young children.
The Tennessee Pre-K program was designed using extensive research and identified what a quality program looks like: trained certified teachers, small classrooms, active and appropriate curriculum, and strong components related to cognition, language & literacy, and social-emotional development.
Unfortunately, young children in Tennessee have become a political obstacle for those who oppose expanding Pre-K programs. Many focus on short-term gains, without the knowledge and understanding of the abundance of research that demonstrates the effects that quality early childhood programs have on young children such as: less retention, fewer referrals to special education, more success in kindergarten and first grade, and improved language and math abilities. They are also unaware of additional research, including the Perry/Weikard study which covered fifty years, and found long-term benefits that follow these children into adulthood. It was found that those participants stayed in school longer, were more likely to graduate, and as adults were working more and receiving less federal assistance.
Today I took action. I sent the attached article to newspaper editors across the state. I also sent Governor Haslam a similar letter along with the chapter I wrote on Tennessee Quality Pre-K… no response.
Now I ask you to take action too! Let your governor and legislators know how crucial quality early childhood education is for children who live in poverty as well as many others who will gain from this program. Explain how it impacts both children and their families in positive ways. Inform them that our community, state, and nation need educated children to have a great start and find the value of staying in school.
Please use any part of this blog or my attached article to help others understand what you and I know. Early childhood education is our best investment for the future!
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