For those of us who have been leading the rallying cry to commit greater resources to early childhood education, we are living in encouraging times. The national focus on the word "gap" and the push for universal pre-K, in particular, should be celebrated and supported. Now, we also need to focus on those who are already behind before they start pre-K.
As the school year is coming to a close, access to affordable early education and child care is still on the mind of many parents. More than 23,000 children from across Massachusetts are being left behind, sitting on waitlists for enrollment in quality early education and out-of-school time care programs during this most critical stage of their development.
Of all the Great Society programs, Head Start is perhaps the most popular. It provides center-based services to millions of very cute 3- and 4-year-olds, mostly children from disadvantaged families. If members of the public, educators, and policy makers know a single conclusion from educational research, it is that early-childhood programs have long-term positive impacts.
The 15 million U.S. children growing up in poverty are typically more than 18 months behind their better-off peers by the time they enter school. Many never catch up. So I'm very thankful that tonight at 10 p.m. the new PBS documentary series A Path Appears is showing that these children are not a lost cause.
Education today clearly ranks as a top priority for Saudi Arabia. Early childhood education has also received government support and mainstream attention in recent years, due in part to two Saudi visionaries. Ilham Al-Dakheel and Samia Kazi have been a powerful force in helping to gain recognition of the importance of early education.