Alabama Leading Charge In Early Childhood Education
When it comes to many state rankings, Alabama doesn’t always come in at the top spot, or even close.
However, we are one of he best when it comes to early education, and Governor Robert Bentley held the first ever summit on the topic.
Alabama has really focused on expanding the voluntary Pre-K program.
In addition to federal money, the state gave an additional 10 million dollars last year, and it’s paying off.
“I’ve looked across the states and I’ve noticed Alabama is one of the leaders. There’s wonderful things happening in this state for young children, particularly in the preschool. You have a first class preschool program that is really one of the best in the whole country,” said Libby Doggett with the U.S. Department of Education.
Alabama is one of only 5 states in the nation that scored a 10 out of 10 for quality pre-k.
Speakers talked about how important it is to teach children right away.
A lot of development happens between birth and age 5.
State Superintendent Tommy Bice says continuing to focus on early education could solve a lot of the state’s problems.
“The research is so very clear. If you invest in early childhood education, those children tend to graduate from high school and high school graduates have less experience with crime and incarceration, they’re healthier, make better choices. The answer to those issues in the long term is investment in early childhood education,” said Bice.
Governor Robert Bentley is passionate about continuing to expand the state’s early education.
He says the state is looking at a 700 million dollar hole in its budget, but if he gets approval to increase taxes, a lot of that money will help teachers.
“It’s 187 million that should go back into education. And that will come under the cap, in other words that can be used immediately to go to transportation, textbooks and for OCE and for all the things that are needed in education,” said Bentley.
He says it’s hard for him to support raising taxes, but the state has run out of options.
The governor says he plans to outline more of his plans for the general fund and education budgets in the state of the state address on March 3rd.