The first year of school isn’t the same for every kid.
Some students are lucky enough to kick-start their academic journey at a high-quality early childhood education (ECE) program at age three or four. Those who are not so lucky may have to wait another couple years until kindergarten. And just like that, some of our youngest students are starting behind on their very first day of school.
Researchers know what most teachers will tell you: Good ECE is good for kids.
It’s kinda like compound interest. Early investment pays off big time later on — growth begets more growth.
E4E teachers advocate for access to high-quality early childhood education programs.
Especially those targeting historically-underserved communities where inequity takes firm root. Only about one in four students actually get to attend excellent ECE, and there are huge disparities in which children those are. Fifteen percent of black children, 20% of Latino children, and 19% of children from low-income families attend a high-quality pre-K program compared to 24% of white children and 29% of children from high-income families.
Minneapolis elementary teacher Meghan O’Donnell knows that these programs can make all the difference.
“You can clearly tell who has been in our on-site preschool and who has not. On day one they walk into the classroom ahead of their peers. Not only do they have a much greater understanding of academics, knowing what words or sentences are, for example, but they also have the emotional tools to thrive in a classroom environment. Students that don’t go through early childhood education end up having a lot more to learn in a small amount of time.”
We know that children reap these benefits only when programs are sufficiently accessible, employ highly-trained educators, and are high-quality. Surely we must pay a fortune to the heroes helping our youngest learners! If only. Unfortunately, many preschool teachers are paid far less than other educators, living on the edge of financial ruin.
We need to make a commitment to improve the training and pay for some of our most important educators. Because pre-k is not babysitting(!), and teachers must be paid accordingly.
Next month, we’ll be writing about some of the other people beyond educators and parents who help get our kids to where they need to be, especially in underserved communities. But first, what do you think?
Question: How important is it for schools to work with community organizations to provide additional supports to students? A lot, some, none
Students need different supports and instruction depending on their needs, whether they’re four or fourteen. But while the day-to-day should look different for every kid, the day they start their schooling should be the same.
- The E4E Team
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