Early education

FI-EditorialIt happens all the time. A big deal is made about an issue. A day or a week is declared in its honor. Pledges are made. Support is promised. And then it’s all forgotten.

So that’s how it will be with the Week of the Young Child, right? Everyone is going to make a big deal about working toward early childhood education, but nothing will be done. Speeches will be made about how vital this is and how everyone is focused on it, and steps will be taken to make sure it’s available to all. But it will all be lip service. Won’t it?

Hardly — and that’s because of the efforts of hard-working educators, professionals and parents in town, especially those standing up to volunteer and work on the School Readiness Council of Greenwich. They won’t let this effort slip off the radar and they’re going to be here to make sure that when the Week of the Young Child ends this coming Saturday the efforts do not stop until they gear up again in 2015 the next time this national week about early childhood education rolls around.

It’s not exactly news that Greenwich has an engaged parent community. When parent groups get together in town to advocate for something, they’re a force to be reckoned with. But this isn’t a fight. Rather, it’s an ongoing mission to make sure all Greenwich children have the invaluable experience of excellent preschools, not just those who can easily afford it.

In discussions this week surrounding the Week of the Young Child, there’s been a lot of talk about building foundations and working with children at a young age to give them the tools needed to thrive once they enter kindergarten. There are times, unfortunately, when issues like these can devolve into buzzwords and eduspeak that means nothing. But not here. Greenwich officials and members of the Board of Education have said they want to back that talk up with action, and we have every reason to believe they will.

Early childhood education has been advocated by some board members for years, and it’s likely to find unanimous support as part of the overall effort to close the achievement gap. The Board of Education just last week heard the first steps in developing a strategy to close that visible gap and make early childhood education available for all, making sure all Greenwich students, regardless of wealth or where they live or what language their parents speak, get the same advantages before entering kindergarten.

Everyone involved is aware that establishing early childhood education throughout town is not as easy as snapping one’s fingers and saying it’s going to happen. And it’s not being treated as a panacea that will immediately close the achievement gap. But it is a necessary tool that is vital for the development of young students, and the sooner it happens the better.

The work of the School Readiness Council of Greenwich is invaluable in this regard. The more it can work with Superintendent of Schools William McKersie and the board to make this idea a reality throughout town, the better it will be for all of Greenwich’s children. Parents need to stay involved and keep advocating for this issue. Working with the council is a great place to start.

The Week of the Young Child, with all its proclamations and reading to kids and book drives, is great. But post-Saturday, the need does not disappear. Supporters of early childhood education are going to keep pushing, and we need to push right along with them.

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