As we enter the last week of the 2014 Legislative Session, HB96, the Utah School Readiness Initiative, still has one more hurdle to climb! We need your voice NOW to make sure that this important bill passes the Senate! We invite you to take just a few minutes to read the stories below from members of our community about how high-quality preschool has changed the odds for kids and families. Please contact your representatives to let them know you support HB96! It is so important that they hear from you!
“Our first born son was born with Autism. He didn’t walk until he was 18 months old. He didn’t talk and wasn’t potty trained until 4 years old. Fortunately, we were able to enroll him in a special school district preschool and through that preschool, we were given opportunities for speech therapy, occupational therapy, and critical information for his disability. That early intervention was paramount in helping him learn how to speak, correctly sequence his communication, hear and understand simple directions, and identify ‘self stimulating behavior’ and to develop his ‘fine motor coordination.’ His doctors told us that if he wasn’t given this early education and help, he would be unable to progress into regular school and would have to be put in an institution. Because of this wonderful opportunity for early education, he was able to eventually go to regular public school under ‘Special Education’ I.E.P. direction and was able to stay at home with us. Preschool education, some have said, is not important. But for us, it made the difference for us to be able to care for our son at home. Preschool is a gift we can give our future generations. Our future depends on our children and giving them a good head start benefits us all.” –Claren McGivney
“Growing up, we never had any type of structured learning or activities before starting school and when I first heard of this concept, I thought it must be ridiculous to send a 2 year-old to a pre-preschool. However, I quickly learned that the benefits were innumerable and intangible. My youngest is now in Kindergarten and I am convinced that all my children benefited beyond my wildest expectations from their pre-k opportunities. At first, when they were 2 years-old, they would attend a couple of hours a day, three times a week, and by the time they were ready for kindergarten, they would be going almost everyday for a large part of the day. During that time, they would learn while having fun. They loved it and would look forward to playing with friends. They played and learned important concepts such as sharing and independence. They also had free-reign with paints and other activities that I was reluctant to have them do at home. They learned how to pour their own milk, how to clean up after themselves, and how to play with other children. They rode bikes, ran around, and built castles in the sandbox. And, they started learning to read! I have very much appreciated the skills that of all my children have gained from their various preschool programs.” –Dr. Elisabeth Carr MD
I know that here in Utah and in all of the United States, we are failing in the education of our population. Education here in the United States is one of the most neglected parts of our democracy. Anything that we can do to improve education should be welcomed with open arms. The cost is minimal compared to the expense of resources that can be avoided. After returning home from the United States Peace Corps in 2009, and having a difficult time finding a new job, I became a full-time substitute teacher, grades kindergarten to high school. As a substitute teacher, you get a wide and varied view of the system. The job was more rewarding when I taught at schools that were made up of socially middle and upper class students, but my experience was more disheartening at schools where you knew parents and schools were strained economically. As the mother of three university and advanced degree children, I know their preschool experience gave them an advantage. Preschool would help the latter students, parents, schools, and ultimately entire communities by starting kids out on equal footing with their more privileged counterparts. At this early age, values are established. Values that would ultimately benefit our population and country. Preschool is a simple solution and a great start at raising the educational standards of America. –Natalie Earle