Big Benefits of Early Childhood Education

On Feb. 16, the D.C. Council Committee of the Whole will hold a public hearing commencing at 10 a.m. on a bill (Bill-19-0566) I introduced titled, the “Early Childhood Education Act of 2011.” I invite you to come and testify.

If enacted, this bill will ensure a curriculum is created and implemented that guarantees a reasonable expectation that our three- and four-year-old children are adequately prepared for entry and achievement in the District of Columbia Public Schools kindergarten program. In addition, the bill will ensure a curriculum is created and implemented that guarantees a reasonable expectation that our third grade children will be able to read independently and be able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide upon being promoted to the fourth grade.

Currently, there are 10,000 preschoolers enrolled in our early childhood education program. There is also a large population of children enrolled in kindergarten, first, second and third grades. Before standardized testing begins in the fourth grade, we must ensure that our children are equipped with the basic tools to succeed by being able to read independently and add, subtract, multiply and divide upon entering the fourth grade.
According to the curriculum timetable in schools, the formative years is the time when a child is learning how to read and learning the basics of mathematics. In the fourth grade, the curriculum changes and a child is expected to read for comprehension and is no longer expected to learn the basics of how to read. The fourth grade also introduces a child to mathematical concepts such as fractions and decimals in preparation for algebra and so on.

According to the United States Department of Education, a child who has not mastered the basic foundation for education upon entering the fourth grade will have a high probability of having contact with the criminal justice system. Research indicates two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the fourth grade will end up in jail or on public assistance. Moreover, several states forecast needed prison growth based on third grade reading scores. Clearly, we must do everything within our power to avert our children from having contact with the criminal justice system, by putting in place support systems that help children meet educational standards.

As community residents, parents, grandparents, educators, teachers and taxpayers, we have a vested interest in improving educational standards within our community. As taxpayers, we deserve a return on our investment with efficient and effective high-quality learning environments in which all District children are the beneficiaries.

Education is the starting line to a life of productivity. Please join me in providing our children with a curriculum designed to provide them with the opportunity to have a great start in life.

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