Today was the second day of a two day bus sponsored by Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students, GEARS. Forty (40) educators and education advocates spent Monday and Tuesday touring Georgia’s best early education centers which included the Rockdale Career Academy in Rockdale County and the Early Learning Center in Clarke County.
We heard from a host of education leaders who advocate for and others who execute documented best practices. They included: the Economics of Early Education by Steve Do linger, GA Partnership for Education Excellence; Early Education Enterprise Zones by Laura Wagner from the Department of Early Learning; and the Importance of Early Learning to K-12 Success by Dr. Phil Lanoue, National Superintendent of the Year (Superintendent of Clarke County Schools).
One of the best programs that is making a difference in parent involvement is the Parent As Teachers (PAT) where parents are taught how to help their children learn at home, the importance of reading to their kids, to know what to expect as their children grow, how to get job ready, and how to deal with life’s challenges by advocating for themselves.
While Georgia has some extremely successful early learning programs and leaders willing to help other educators and schools with successful programs, it is clear that their help is not welcomed by organizations, even many in extreme impoverished areas simply because they do not ‘put children first’. It is sad, yet true. Research indicates that an early start with great programs helps our kids: 1) read by third grade, 2) significantly increase high school graduation rates, 3) increase their chances of getting a post secondary education, 4) increase their ability to become financially stable, and 5) takes them off the pipeline to prison.
We all left the GEEARS bus tour with high hopes of influencing education leaders in our communities to embrace and invest in these proven programs that will give kids birth to five years old the solid foundation they need regardless of their zip code to succeed in life.
For your review, and to help advocate for these programs in your community, here are three links should give you some useful early education initiatives and data:
Working together, we can help ALL KIDS get access to high-quality early education programs in their neighborhoods.