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To The Editor:
In response to Jim Parker's letter inaccurately describing early childhood education as a form of 'day care,' I urge our community to consider three points:
1) Many preschool-age children live in homes where parents try their best to make ends meet. Structuring a child's day to include quality educational time is a real challenge given the stresses many younger families face today. When these children are able to join a quality preschool with books, conversation, stability, and well-qualified staff for several hours a week, results show that these children are more likely to perform well in school.
2) Last month, the National Center on Education and the Economy released a provocative set of recommendations calling for a massive overhaul of the U.S. educational system. The primary reason for the call to action is because we are not keeping pace with the rest of the world. The report entitled "Tough Times or Tough Choices," prepared by the bipartisan Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, suggests changing a lot about our educational system, but it strongly supports high quality pre-K education as one of the best investments our nation can make in its young people. This has been corroborated by numerous studies that have shown the human brain develops more between the ages of birth through five than at any other time in life, and that pre-K education leads to improved lifetime academic performance and greater social maturity.
3) School funding is contentious because not all taxpayers see a direct or immediate benefit. We maintain this system, however, because we understand the societal benefits of education, and as Americans we believe in affording everyone a fair chance. As a society we also agree to take care of our old and nurture the young. If we lose sight of the long-term benefits of this approach in the face of near-term budget constraints we are doing our Valley and the entire country a disservice. Placing publicly funded preschool options on the chopping block is the wrong approach. Please do not sign the petition. To learn more, or to debate this issue, please attend the Pre-K Study Committee public hearing on Thursday, January 25, at 6:30 p.m. in Montpelier.