EDITORIAL: Early childhood education requires attention

2012-11-25T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Early childhood education requires attention nwitimes.com
November 25, 2012 12:00 am  • 

For the most part, the best advice for education reform is to sit back and wait for the results of recently enacted reforms to become clear. There's an exception, though.

Much of the focus of education reform has been focused on improving outcomes for high school graduates. They must be better prepared for college and careers.

But look not just to high school curriculum and testing. Look to earlier grades, and even beyond that.

One more education reform Indiana could undertake is to begin funding early childhood education, as other states have done, so children will be better prepared for kindergarten.

This could be a costly proposition, so Indiana should begin with pilot projects to determine what offers the best bang for the buck for different groups of students. Look at rural, suburban and urban settings. Look at a host of socioeconomic factors.

Look at what works well in other states, and why. See what should be adapted for Hoosier students. Expand on the Success by Six initiative begun by the Northwest Indiana United Ways.

The requirement that students be able to read at grade level before advancing beyond third grade was a sensible change, because reading is the foundation for all further learning.

Preparing students for reading well requires getting them prepared to read at an earlier age. Kindergarten, for example, isn't what it used to be. Anyone looking back at their own kindergarten years as a comparison needs to go back into the classroom to see how different it is now.

This is one reason Indiana should make kindergarten mandatory. It has become an essential part of the K-12 education system, and almost every child already begins with kindergarten.

Determine how best to prepare children for kindergarten, through early childhood education programs, then make sure children attend kindergarten.

Send a strong message to parents and others that Indiana understands the value of starting children's education early.

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