Universal Early Childhood Education

Making Access to Early-Childhood Education Universal in Cambridge Fran Cronin June 27, 2017 Introduction “Serious and sustained investments in early-education, beginning now, could make the difference between a student falling through society’s cracks or becoming a healthy, resilient adult helping to drive our economy,” wrote state senate president Stanley Rosenberg and senator Sal DiDomenico in a recent letter to the Globe. Advocating for their statewide Kid’s First Initiative, they declared, “All our students deserve not only a world-class education, but a Massachusetts-class education.” As Cambridge looks to improve its own educational outcomes, it’s important for our district to focus on research-based best practices. Study after study makes it clear that comprehensive and universal early-childhood education provides the best and most economical path toward achieving our goals, not only in the classroom, but in our communities, families, and workplaces as well. The benefits are manifest: it lays the ground for early, life-long social and emotional development; supports continuous cognitive development, eases a single mother’s access to stable employment; and is the best investment we can make to improve educational outcomes. Overview Researchers in childhood development have long been alerting parents to the importance of acting as their child’s first teachers: of reading to their infants and toddlers, (activates areas of the brain related to narrative comprehension), having easy access to books at home (a better predictor of education level than parent’s own education), and engaging in “rich verbal interactions” (quality is better than quantity). The impacts of such developmental advantages are felt outside of the home. Promising to overcome income and educational gaps, early-childhood education has been the forefront of governmental initiatives to confront generational poverty. Programs such as Head Start continue to improve literacy rates, vocabulary, math skills, health status, and behavior among the lower-income and special needs populations that they [...]