News and analysis from The Center for Michigan • http://thecenterformichigan.net
©2016 Bridge Michigan. All Rights Reserved. • Join us online at http://bridgemi.com

Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2012/04/guest-column-early-childhood-efforts-need-more-than-office-equipment/

Guest commentary

Guest column: Early childhood efforts need more than office equipment

By Jack Kresnak/Michigan’s Children

A new report on the nation’s efforts to provide quality early learning shows Michigan was one of the few states to increase preschool funding last year.

The bad news: We still serve only 18 percent of 4-year-olds and no 3-year-olds, putting Michigan in the bottom half of states in accessibility to pre-k programs.

As stated by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan: “Raising the quality of early learning and expanding access to effective programs plays a pivotal role in improving our children’s chances at being successful in grade school through to college and careers. It’s the kind of investment that benefits us all.”

 

Jack Kresnak is the president of Michigan’s Children, a statewide, nonpartisan and nonprofit advocacy organization based in Lansing.

This thinking, substantiated by numerous economic and scientific studies, should guide legislators’ actions when doling out state funds and setting related policies. Michigan’s new Office of Great Start illustrates recognition of the critical importance of early childhood. But creating an office is not enough. We must expand programs for young children and their families and provide a consistent source of funding to support evidence-based services and programs serving children from birth through age 3 and their families.

It’s a commitment not just to the children of Michigan, but to Michigan’s future.

As the report authors at Rutgers University’s National Institute of Early Education Research wrote: “In a state shaken by economic distress, which has placed more children at-risk, early education can be a powerful contributor to long-term growth, if additional resources are dedicated to expand coverage and improve quality.”

The first three years of life are critical to prevent large racial, ethnic, and economic-related disparities that begin to emerge as young as nine months of age and grow throughout life. Long-term disparities in educational success and their economic, social and fiscal consequences are profound. However, taking advantage of the first three years of life by supporting families to be their child’s first and best teachers can help reduce future taxpayer burdens associated with disparate child outcomes.

For children birth through age 3, participation in high quality infant-toddler programs protects them from the negative impacts of poverty by increasing parents’ abilities to support their children’s healthy cognitive, language, social-emotional and physical development. Young children and families who access high quality home visiting programs and child care develop stronger literacy skills; are better prepared to start kindergarten; and achieve at similar academic levels as their more affluent peers, regardless of parental education and employment.

This should be more than enough evidence to prompt Michigan to do better for our youngest children who are most at-risk. The Office of Great Start was established to align, integrate and coordinate Michigan’s investments from prenatal to third grade. Ensuring that infants and toddlers have access to high quality programs supporting healthy development and connected to high quality pre-k programs and early elementary is critical to reduce the education achievement gap and put all children on the path to education success.

We know we can — and must — do better than we are now, for the children and the state.

Bridge welcomes guest columns from a diverse range of people on issues relating to Michigan and its future. The views and assertions of these writers do not necessarily reflect those of Bridge or The Center for Michigan.

1 comment from a Bridge reader.Add mine!

  1. Steven Depolo

    Hey, that’s my photo of my cute daughter Lourdie!

Leave your comment...

Your email address will not be published.

Currently on Bridge

The email trail of the latest workers charged in Flint water crisis

More than pipes and penny-pinching: Flint crisis reflects racism

Missing in action: Michigan's primary voters

Amid guns and violence and police shootings, a program that works

Dental therapists are the wrong answer to improving oral health in Michigan

There’s a better place for that building than in the dump

State education proposal would add $1.4 billion to school budget

The 3 biggest head-scratchers in Michigan education cost study

When elites ignore the people, the center cannot hold

Battle in Lansing over community colleges expanding 4-year degrees

Michigan’s low investment in child care costs state and poor children alike

Allowing ‘dental therapists’ in Michigan will expand access to oral care

In Flint, questions about Legionnaires’ death toll

Should Waukesha be able to stick a straw into Lake Michigan? Yes.

Booming again: West Michigan’s economy is on a roll

More time in classroom equals more learning, but the details matter

Put down your No. 2 pencils: Too much testing in public schools

Dow Chemical being courted by other states

House plan for Detroit schools excludes Education Commission, key to success

Not waiting for government, philanthropy steps up to help Flint

People need jobs. Factories need workers. Busing, a love story.

Are tampons as essential as toilet paper? Menstruation goes mainstream

It’s right for Malia Obama, but is a gap year right for you?

Failing infrastructure threatens Michigan’s public health, safety and economy

Higher ed is key to a state’s success, and should be supported

Invest in non-partisan journalism.

Donate to The Center for Michigan. Find out why.