William Diehl & Desiree Lalbeharie-Josias: On early ed, let’s not lose ground

Last modified: Tuesday, April 07, 2015

NORTHAMPTON — As educators working under the banner that “everyone is a learner,” recent guest columns in the Gazette on the vital importance of investing in early education programs drew our attention.

We applaud Gov. Charlie Baker’s proposal to invest an additional $105 million in K-12 schools, and thank Senate President Stanley C. Rosenberg and all Massachusetts legislators who support public education. Because of this support, Massachusetts continues to lead the nation in education.

But much work remains to be done to close the achievement gap, help all children become strong readers and increase high school graduation rates. Additional resources will support these statewide goals, particularly in lower income communities in which school budgets are more dependent on state funds and in rural communities with small school-age populations.

However, cuts to early childhood initiatives undermine these additional investments, just as building a house without a proper foundation endangers the entire structure and increases long-term costs.

Numerous studies demonstrate a strong link between high quality preschool and later academic and life success. Low-income children who attended high-quality preschool are 40 percent less likely to need special education or be retained a grade and 30 percent more likely to graduate from high school.

The rich early learning experiences that develop a child’s language, socio-emotional and cognitive skills lay the foundation for academic learning. Superintendents in our region report increasing numbers of children entering kindergarten without these skills and presenting behavioral challenges. Scarce district funds must then be spent on expensive interventions to help children develop the skills they need to be ready to learn.

The governor’s proposed elimination of the wait-list reduction program will prevent thousands of children from receiving subsidies so they can access early learning experiences critical to their future success. Additional cuts would block over 8,000 children from attending free full-day kindergarten, and offer no rate or benefit increases for early educators.

Gov. Baker made an excellent choice to invest in the richest resource and key economic driver in our state: the K-12 education of our children. But if we are to invest wisely, we must build a strong foundation and support increased funding for early childhood education.

William Diehl is executive director of the Collaborative for Educational Services. Desiree Lalbeharie-Josias is the group’s early childhood director.


Support Local Journalism

Subscribe to the Daily Hampshire Gazette, your leading source for news in the Pioneer Valley.

Daily Hampshire Gazette Office

23 Service Center Road
Northampton, MA 01060


Copyright © 2021 by H.S. Gere & Sons, Inc.
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy