I agree wholeheartedly with District Attorney Lisa Smittcamp’s recent op-ed. The investments we make during the early years of a child’s life can have a drastic impact on their outcomes.
In the long run, high-quality early education programs can help boost national security, which is my main concern as a retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral. According to the Department of Defense, only 29 percent of 17- to 24-year-olds are eligible to serve in the Armed Forces. The remaining 71 percent are disqualified for being poorly educated, physically unfit or having a criminal record.
While I applaud the Legislature and governor for the increased investments in early childhood education and child care they included in the budget last year, there is more work to be done. Additional funding is needed to increase rates to attract and retain high-quality early educators, expand access to meet the high demand for preschool, and help improve program quality overall.
Over 100 studies nationally have shown that high-quality preschool significantly improves children’s school readiness, and social and emotional development. This is why economists, neurologists, law enforcement and military leaders agree: High-quality early education is a worthy investment, and should be top priority in this year’s budget.
Michael Seward, Hilmar