I'm not one to get political. In fact, most people, even my closest friends, don't know a whole lot about my political views. When it comes to education, though, and access to education, I'll be the first one to speak up loud and clear and say: if you're not voting for a candidate with a universal pre-kindergarten plan, you may just be adding to the already rampant achievement gap.
Every child deserves the opportunity to succeed in life, which includes having access to a high-quality early education program. Students benefit from having access to education early on in their life so that they can succeed when they transition to the K-12 system.
As most people know, times are changing and that includes the academic world. The content and skills that children must know before they go to kindergarten is rapidly expanding, making it even more critical that families have access to a pre-kindergarten program that addresses these changing standards.
In fact, children who enter their kindergarten class behind academically and socially, typically stay behind for the remainder of their academic career.
Let that sink in for a minute: students who enter their K-12 schooling behind typically stay behind.
26th in Preschool participation for 4-year-olds
24th in Preschool participation for 3-year-olds
22nd in the typical age that children begin early childhood-education programs
15th in teacher-to-child ratio in early childhood-education programs
21st in total investment in early childhood education relative to country wealth
The same study shows that seven countries ensure that at least 90 percent of 3-year-olds have access to preschool. The United States' number barely hits 50 percent.
We're at a crossroads right now, but there is hope on the other side of this: electing a candidate in November who advocates for universal pre-kindergarten, who advocates for title one schools and who doesn't cut funding from already underfunded schools and areas.
The power is in your hands to change the narrative and outcome of so many lives. We can't afford to keep falling behind in education, especially when providing foundational education and skills.
The time is now to act for the future of education.
Pre-kindergarten shouldn't be a privilege, it should be a right.