The Union Leader featured a piece by Spark NH director Laura Milliken underscoring the importance of early childhood education in New Hampshire. Equal access, she writes, is critical to the health and future of our state. Here’s an excerpt of her letter:
Our children face a future that is very different from the past. They are relying on us to prepare them for that future, so it is essential that New Hampshire’s young people have the best possible start in life and that includes access to high quality early childhood education.
Children who have access to high quality early learning do better in school.
They are less likely to need special education services, less likely to have to repeat a grade, and are more likely to graduate from high school.
Children who get a strong foundation in the early years are more likely to be productive contributors to our communities and the economy.
Early learning is an essential part of the growth and development of our youngest citizens and yet far too many of our young children do not have access to quality early learning opportunities.
New Hampshire is one of only 11 states that does not have universal pre-K or full-day kindergarten programs.
In the 2016 session, the House killed HB 1563, a bill that would have funded full-day kindergarten in a 152-205 vote along party lines. The bill would not have required districts to offer full-day programs, but would have provided funding for the 94 of 153 school districts that offer it. For those 94 districts, local taxes cover the additional cost.
The House also killed SB 503, a bill that would have created a “pay for success” model of pre-kindergarten in New Hampshire. Only 4 in 10 children from low-income households attend pre-kindergarten programs, compared to 64% of children from wealthy households. Early childhood programs like high quality pre-kindergarten have been shown to result in lasting gains in academic achievement, increase graduation rates and reduce crime rates.[bctt tweet=”Only 4 in 10 children from low-income households attend pre-kindergarten programs. #NHed” username=””]
Read the full article here.