With statistics showing that the United States’ education system is drastically falling behind other world powers, President Obama and the White House have turned their attention to early education. In order to remain internationally competitive, the state of Kansas must raise funding on early education as well. By creating public preschools for all students, the state of Kansas would greatly improve its entire education program.The period from birth to eight years old is a crucial time of a child’s development. In this time, children develop social skills and behavioral patterns. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has stated that this time has an impact on “a broader context of social development, gender equity and poverty reduction.”
As President Obama acknowledged in his State of the Union speech, early education enhances a child’s ability to learn down the road. The President also presented the underwhelming fact that only 3 in 10 American 4-year-olds are enrolled in a preschool program. This is a problem that must be addressed and quickly resolved. The state of Kansas must make it a priority.
In a typical Montessori school or private preschool, a student learns basic mathematics such as counting, adding and subtracting. They will be introduced to letters and are often taught to read on a primary level, along with getting a taste of science, history, geography and music. Students also develop habits that will be vital for success in school, such as respecting others, focusing during class and finishing assignments on time.
The problem is that those schools are not available to all children. If their parents can’t afford early education, those children are at a disadvantage. It’s not surprising, that a student without access to early education would struggle upon entering kindergarten. Those students must quickly learn the social and educational skills that the students with preschool education have already developed. This inequality in the classroom also makes teaching fairly and evenly extremely hard for the instructor.
Along with creating inequality, this lack of knowledge in kindergarten slows down the entire American education system. If all children had preschool education, they would enter kindergarten with a basic knowledge of reading, writing and mathematics. Typically, kindergarten and first grade focus on these skills, along with developing social skills.
That process could be circumvented through early education, allowing kindergarten and first grade curriculum to cover more advanced topics, such as multiplication and division, or writing in cursive. This would in turn make the entire American school system more challenging, and more competitive with other countries. An improvement in the Kansas system would provide a catalyst for further improvements around the country.
Remaining competitive in education is a priority for the United States, and it should become more of a priority in Kansas. After a Pearson report in November 2012 ranked the U.S. education system as seventeenth in the world, it has become increasingly obvious that a change must be made to keep our country competitive with other educational and industrial giants such as China, Japan and South Korea.
This need has been acknowledged by both political parties. Republicans and Democrats in states such as Indiana are already working together to improve their state’s funding of early education. If the state of Kansas wishes to give its children a quality education, it’s time to increase funding and make early education available to every student.