Funding What Matters Most in School

Across our region and the country, there is much debate about funding pre-K and full-day kindergarten classes. But research on the importance of early childhood education is conclusive: fully funding our youngest students' programs is perhaps the best investment a society can make in its future.

Pre-K and kindergarten programs provide an all-important initial exposure to school, setting the tone for each student's educational career. In these classrooms, students develop lasting habits, perceptions, and foundational associations for learning and interacting in positive ways with their peers.

Considering the amount of time students spend in schools during formative childhood years, parents and teachers should do everything possible for students to get off to a great start. Unfortunately, not all lawmakers who determine school budgets are on the same page, and even if they are, they may not know how to best differentiate a strong early childhood program from an average or subpar one.

There are, of course, many factors that determine the quality of these programs. The strength of the curriculum, the facilities, access to stimulating materials, and other factors all play a role. But ultimately, I believe the key ingredient is the quality of the instructors. The manner in which adults interact with children sets the tone for all learning in every classroom. Teachers of young students need to be actively engaged in ways that are positive, nurturing, and full of joy and wonder. In short, there's no substitute for highly trained and skilled teachers who can foster creativity and curiosity while sustaining an environment of discovery and playful learning for children who are understanding how to become students.

All children deserve to work with skilled and dedicated teachers in the beginning of their school careers, regardless of backgrounds and local or state budget limitations. For in these crucial years, children take their first steps in their educational journeys, and once they do, there's no holding them back.

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