Pre-K makes our children’s future brighterPublished 5:59am Wednesday, April 18, 2012
On April 10, 2012, the NIEER (National Institute for Early Education Research) released its annual report ranking Alabama’s First Class Pre-K as one of the highest quality programs in the country.
This is the sixth year in a row our State funded Pre-K program has received this ranking. That’s right, our State’s First Class Pre-K Program meets or exceeds all 10 benchmarks recognized by NIEER for quality pre-k and are seated at the top of the nation with only four other states – Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. At a time when Alabama is seeing so many cutbacks in education this is a blessing.
It is a blessing in many ways but first and foremost it gives our State an opportunity to be changed in positive ways for the future.
Throughout the years studies have consistently shown that children attending high quality pre-k programs are less likely to be retained, less likely to require special education services, and less likely to be incarcerated or even commit crimes.
Children in high quality pre-k programs are more likely to be successful, complete schooling and have greater success in the job market.
At a time in our State when our prison population is overflowing and consideration has been given to releasing criminals back into society before their terms end or during a time when we’re seeing high school drop out rates and one in four children are living in poverty, knowing and understanding the results of high quality pre-k is imperative!
However, Alabama’s First Class Pre-K Program, overseen by the Department of Children’s Affair’s Office of School Readiness, is a long way from serving all the children in Alabama that are eligible to attend. Alabama ranks 33rd in this effort among the 39 states in our country that provide pre-k programs. Currently Alabama is serving approximately 6.4 percent of Alabama’s 60,000+ 4-year-olds in their currently State funded First Class Pre-K classrooms across the state.
As citizens of this great state, parents, and grandparents we must advocate for our children. We should be their champions. What better way to champion children than to stress the importance of fully funding First Class Pre-K programs so that ALL four-year-olds can be reached and provided the high quality start to education all children need and deserve.
We should all make it a priority to contact our Governor, Legislators and business/industry leaders so that Alabama not only can rank at the top with quality but at the top with accessibility. Alabama’s future will be brighter and our children’s lives enriched forever.
Dianne W. Pace