Education Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: PreK expansion raises concerns

I am afraid I have to disagree with both Senator Hardy and Angelo Lynn on the feasibility of their notion of expanding dollars for PreK and moving all 4-year-olds into a public school setting.

Let me clarify — I love the idea of expanding the funding of dollars for PreK — we all know that 3-5-year-olds do not learn for 10 hours a week and for 35 hours a week, which is what is currently funded. The problem with moving these programs into the schools, however, is that this will not meet the needs of many working parents and is usually not the best environment for preschoolers. Where will these 4-year-olds go at 3 o’clock and where will they be in the summer?

Our community is lucky to have several four- and five-star child care programs that are currently partnering with the state to provide excellent care in appropriate settings. This has been a very successful arrangement and I am sure these programs would welcome the proposed additional funding. The extra funding could support additional pay that would bring early ed teachers’ salaries more in line with public school teachers and help with staff retention. I would assume that if the state moved all the 4-year-olds into public schools, they would be planning to make those salaries commensurate to other teachers in the building.

Why are early childhood educators less valuable in current child care settings than they would be in the public school? Everyone likes to say that early education is important to the overall development of young learners and studies show this is true, so let’s give it the respect it deserves. If there are some changes that need to be made, we need more input from qualified early educators to make them.

Kerry Malloy raised many important issues in her May 25 letter and they need to be considered as we move forward to add capacity and make child care more affordable for the children and families in both Addison County and the state. Working together we can make a difference.

Jane Reilly

Middlebury

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