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Early investment in quality Pre-K education critical for future workforce

Within the past two years, Alabama lawmakers and Governor Bentley have doubled state investments in Alabama's First Class Pre-K program to increase access from six to thirteen percent of 4-year-olds statewide. Voters in the city of Birmingham recently approved a property tax increase to fund arts, music and pre-k in Birmingham City Schools. These headlines continue to reinforce our longtime belief that a child exposed to a quality education very early in life will have a better chance to succeed in school, obtain a meaningful job and contribute to his or her community for a lifetime.

The mounting evidence should compel public and private leaders to invest in high-quality early childhood education. For those who need dollar figures and statistics, there are endless studies showing the significant economic benefits of early education programs.

A recent study by Duke University revealed that investment in early childhood education significantly reduced the numbers of children placed in special education programs in third grade, resulting in significant cost savings to North Carolina.

What's more, the high marks Alabama's First Class Pre-k program receives in terms of quality reflect the efficacy of the program and demonstrate that pre-k is working in Alabama. A study by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA) followed students through sixth grade and found that those who participated in Alabama's First Class Pre-K program consistently outperformed their peers. PARCA also found that First Class Pre-K closed the achievement gap for participating low-income students by 25 percent. These are critical long-term investments in our future generations.

PNC remains a committed advocate of early childhood education because we recognize that learning in a child's early years is essential for their long-term success. Through PNC Grow Up Great, our $350 million, multi-year bilingual initiative that began in 2004, we help prepare at-risk children from birth to age 5 for success in school and life.

Our active engagement with early childcare centers, teachers, students, and their families have helped us better understand that school readiness is not a challenge that any one group or organization can tackle alone - nor is it an issue where we can expect immediate change. It will take a collaborative and meaningful effort from the broader community -- public, private and philanthropic -- to move the needle for this economic development issue.

As regional president for PNC, I look forward to working alongside Alabama's business leaders and meeting with Alabama lawmakers so we can all help prepare our youngest children for the educational and economic challenges ahead. Specifically, during the current Alabama Legislative Session, I encourage lawmakers to increase state investments in First Class Pre-K by $13.2 million.

This is the amount needed to keep our state on track to expand the voluntary program to reach all families by the year 2023, as recommended by the Alabama School Readiness Alliance's Pre-K Task Force. I am proud to serve on the task force and advocate for this worthy goal. With a focused and increased investment in early childhood education, we can help give all children the opportunity to succeed.

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Posted by Shabeenasremedies.com on Tuesday, May 9, 2017