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May 27, 2008

Counting and Accountability ... Part 2

My last post opened this topic of accountability and funding. In this post, I hope to demonstrate how accountability directly links to funding. As I have said, I work alongside some highly respected Early Childhood Special Education teachers. They are committed and dedicated to maintaining the highest level of education to their students and families. One major difference between their program and mine is the required documentation for each child. This got me thinking…

I wonder if we could gain more support for Early Childhood Education statewide and nationwide if there was an adequate way to link funding to the “results” we see in the classroom?

High quality early childhood education and care -- the kind of education that benefits children the most -- must include funding for licensed or certified teacher salaries, transportation. and free and reduced breakfast and lunch programs, parent involvement programs and safe, stable access to facilities and resources.  I know there are reports out there that show how high-quality early childhood opportunities set our families up for life-long success. Anecdotally, we are able to demonstrate that early childhood learning opportunities enhance a family’s lifelong commitment to learning and their overall positive contribution to society. However, we are not quite at a point where our findings are significant enough to merit a comprehensive and ongoing investment.  The big sticking point, for most people, is a lack of patience.  Many tax payers, investors, and politicians find it hard to think about an investment that may not produce visible or tangible results until much later in a student’s life.

If we could find a way to accurately and efficiently demonstrate what our work is doing for our families’ -- right here, right now -- we could pave the way for more consistent and ongoing funding.  This is not something that can be done without careful thought.   School rating systems are not the answer. Increased pay for teachers that produce good test scores are not the answer.  Our job now is to help establish a framework for how to financially support these programs locally and nationally.

In an effort to make these opportunities available to all families, we must find a way to prove that the investment in pre-k is worth every penny! 


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