Target: Washington State Legislature
Goal: Improve access to and quality of early education in Washington State
A quality early education is vital for students’ success in school overall, yet it is estimated that over half of Washington students enter kindergarten without proper preparation. In order to close opportunity gaps, efficiently use resources and encourage adequate, positive, early childhood development, the Washington Legislature should prioritize legislation that allocates resources for access to quality early education and the transition to kindergarten.
The Washington State Parent and Teacher Association is encouraging legislation that would improve access to the state Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program, in addition to voluntary pre-school. Family involvement and evaluation of early learning programs, as well as involvement and resources for child-care providers would be strengthened. Also, such legislation would continue to implement and improve voluntary, all-day kindergarten, creating better transitions and alignment from pre-school to kindergarten and through third grade.
Studies show that a large portion of development occurs before the age of five, and a high-quality learning environment during this period can carry significant benefits throughout school and careers, especially for those disadvantaged economically or otherwise.
Quality early education can work to close opportunity gaps by encouraging positive development during this critical period through a constructive learning environment, rather than the often stressful and damaging influences of poverty and lack of support at home. Effective early learning programs also ensure cost efficiency in education spending for the long term, reducing the need for costly remediation efforts for students struggling to catch up or lacking skills.
Please encourage the Washington State PTA to prioritize this issue and request that the Washington Legislature pass legislation to ensure wider access to quality early education.
Dear Washington Legislators,
High quality early learning, accessible to all students in Washington, needs to be a legislative priority for the coming year. Over half of all Washington students enter kindergarten without adequate preparation, often falling behind in social and learning skills, and requiring extra help in special education programs.
Quality pre-kindergarten programs close opportunity gaps by providing all students a safe, positive environment in which to learn and develop during this critical period. In addition, by supporting students early on, these programs reduce the need for costly remediation and special education later on.
Currently, few public resources are devoted to early education and transition to the K-12 system. The Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program has been widely successful in improving academic growth, behaviour, and student health. However it requires further expansion, especially in regard to access for disadvantaged students.
The Washington PTA holds accessible quality early education in high regard, advocating for legislation that would expand this program, phase-in voluntary pre-kindergarten and all-day kindergarten, develop more resources for family and child-care providers, and improve continuity from pre-kindergarten into elementary school.
Please support parents, teachers and children in initiating and passing legislation to improve access to and quality of early education in Washington State.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tony Crider via Flickr