Public support for high-quality early childhood education remained strong in 2017, as evidenced by overwhelmingly unified support among voters and policymakers across the political spectrum. As FFYF advocates for increased federal support for early childhood education programs, we are encouraged by support at the state level to expand access to high quality programs and services. This past week alone, three governors have prioritized the issue in “State of the State” addresses. When it came to maintaining and expanding early childhood education, the governors had a lot to say:
- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D): Governor Cuomo pledged to expand pre-kindergarten programs in 2018, stating: “We must continue our historic investment in public education and expand three and four-year-old pre-K and after school and computer sciences because our greatest asset is our young people and everything we do is for their future.”
- Alabama Governor Kay Ellen Ivey (R): Governor Ivey touted the state’s record in early childhood investment, referring back to research confirming that the “strong foundation in a child’s early years” is key to effective education later in life: “Research shows us that students who participate in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program are more likely, than other students, to be proficient in reading and math at every grade level.” As she noted, Alabama’s early childhood education program is a “bright spot” for the state, recognized for being the highest-quality pre-kindergarten program in the nation for eleven years in a row.
- Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant (R): In Mississippi, Governor Bryant recalled the creation of the State Early Childhood Advisory Council (SECAC), composed of state and national experts across a variety of fields including education, child welfare, and mental health. As he noted, “Its family-based system is the new blueprint for managing the spectrum of problems affecting children and for ultimately finding solutions.” Moreover, Bryant called for state efforts to ensure that child care facilities are high-quality, reminding the audience that “most of our children will spend an average of 12,000 hours of their most formative years in child care or a custodial environment.”
We’re excited to see how these embraces of early childhood education play out over the course of the year. Stay tuned for more updates as we continue highlighting key excerpts from “State of the State” addresses throughout the year.