With public pre-K programs appearing all over the nation, it seems only suitable that Albemarle County take a leading role in providing unparalleled public preschool access. It’s long proven that children who attend preschool programs are more socially adept and higher achieving students than children who do not have such opportunities. Furthermore, these divides that may appear early on in a child’s education can persist well into adolescence and even adulthood.
I strongly believe that by offering public pre-K programs across the district, we can better serve disadvantaged students and create a level playing field for every child in the public school system.
I believe in a system that integrates pre-K programs into existing kindergarten classrooms. This allows expansions to existing infrastructure to accommodate preschool classes without purchasing land and constructing new schools, and by integrating preschool with kindergarten classes, students are exposed to a safe, secure, and stimulating multi-age environment that allows them to grow and mature in the early steps of their education. This type of learning environment allows young students to grow comfortable with their peers and teachers over several years, but more importantly it allows them to interact with other students who may be more or less proficient. These opportunities create a stimulating classroom that not only helps to prepare students socially, but also exposes them to preparatory content that increases curricular readiness.
The expansion of public preschool in Albemarle County has the potential to be self-funded. Because early investment in childhood education leads to lower per-pupil expenditures in secondary school, after just one generation of students the program will be self-sufficient off of budget dollars previously allocated for student expenditures in middle and high school.
Friends, we must see public preschool as a fundamental necessity for preparing students both socially and educationally. We must also see it as an opportunity to create equity for disadvantaged students to help all students succeed in elementary, middle, secondary, and well into their post- educational life. It’s not just an opportunity that we have to make this step: It’s our responsibility.