Governor Deval Patrick today toured the Bentley School in Salem and the Franklin Early Childhood Center in Melrose, as an ongoing effort to promote increased investments in early education to grow jobs and create opportunity throughout the Commonwealth.
"Every child in Massachusetts deserves the opportunity to receive high quality early education," said Governor Patrick. "We know from educators, from academic research, from years of public policy and from our own experience as parents, that investing in our children at a young age pays huge dividends for them and for our community as a whole."
The Governor's FY14 budget calls for increased investments in high-quality education in the Commonwealth. A $131 million investment in the early education and care system will provide funding to work to eliminate the Department of Early Education and Care's (EEC) current birth to age-five waitlist; expand initiatives to ensure the highest educational quality among providers of early education and care; assist early educators and providers with attaining higher levels of proficiency, skill and quality; increase educational programs and supports for parents and family members to further engage them in their child's success; and expand efforts to provide comprehensive support services to children and their families.
"We know that when our youngest students have access to quality early education opportunities they will be better equipped for their K-12 experience," said Education Secretary Matt Malone, who joined the Governor. "Governor Patrick's commitment to ensuring all students have access to prekindergarten programs is unmatched but there is even more we can do if we choose to invest strategically."
Governor Patrick toured an early education classroom at the Bentley School and the Franklin Early Childhood Center and visited with students. He also participated in a roundtable discussion with parents and teachers at the Franklin Early Childhood Center.
Increased investments in the Commonwealth's early education system will enable the state to prevent developmental and achievement gaps for its youngest residents, and will ensure that students are reading and writing proficiently by grade three. The Governor's plan will work to close the achievement gaps that still persists in Massachusetts, especially among children of color, those who live in poverty, children with special needs and those who speak English as a second language.
"Putting a priority on early childhood education and development is among the most effective investments we can make in our future," said U.S. Senator William "Mo" Cowan. "It's better to give our kids an early start than to struggle to play catch up in their teenage years. By focusing attention on disadvantaged children early on and further engaging their parents in their educational development, we can help to reduce the achievement gap and better prepare children to start school off on the right foot."
"I am so pleased to welcome Governor Patrick to Melrose's Early Childhood Center, a perfect example of the type of early education program all children deserve to learn, grow and thrive," said Senator Katherine Clark. "I will continue to work with the Governor to expand access to high-quality, affordable early education opportunities for families in our communities and across the state."
"Early education and care plays a crucial role in closing the achievement gap and I applaud the Governor's commitment to ensuring that quality early learning opportunities are made affordable and available to all children throughout the Commonwealth," said Representative Alice Peisch, House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education.
"Our Early Childhood Center is a tremendous resources for families in the area and demonstrates the importance of early literacy and the district's focus on having students arrive at kindergarten ready to learn," said Representative Paul Brodeur. "I appreciate the Governor's recognition of the excellent work done by the ECC and his commitment to supporting early education."
"Our Early Childhood Center at Bentley Elementary showcases the real benefits of investment in early childhood education, and I commend Governor Patrick for his sustained commitment to expanding programs and opportunities like these all across Massachusetts," said Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll. "Early childhood education and expanded learning times in classrooms are key to the improvement of student performance in our state, and I am proud of the Center's success as Bentley Elementary continues its progression from a 'Level 4' state designation, to a complete school turnaround."
"Early education is thriving in Melrose due to a partnership between local, state, and federal government," said Melrose Mayor Robert Dolan. "Now is the time to further commit to our youngest students through early intervention, Title I, and a curriculum that gives every child the tools to be successful."
The Bentley School is a public elementary school serving approximately 335 students in grades K-5. A large portion of Bentley students speak English as a second language.
The Franklin Early Childhood Center is a pre-school and pre-kindergarten program serving students aged 3-4, is part of the Melrose Public School District. There are 274 students enrolled in the Early Education Center at Franklin Elementary. The Franklin ECC has a strong Parent Teacher Organization presence, which is deeply committed to funding programs and activities that enhance learning and strengthen the ECC community.