Spotlight on early education

TUPELO – Early education is in the spotlight locally and nationally this week.
A new national study released today emphasizes the need to link early education and elementary school. In Tupelo, parents can see that link at work as the King Early Childhood Education Center holds an open house Tuesday.
Recently, Congress and President Barack Obama approved billions in new federal funding for early care and education, because experts say children who arrive at kindergarten ready to learn are more likely to have mastered reading by the end of third grade. Reading ability lays the foundation for success in the rest of the education.
A report from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Education Commission of the States released today called for communities to build better bridges between quality early education and elementary schools. A national forum is being held today in Washington, D.C., and includes Pulitzer Prize winner William Raspberry, who founded the Baby Steps program in his native Okolona.
“Each year too many children start kindergarten unprepared to learn,” wrote Gregory Taylor, vice president of program at Kellogg Foundation.
Kellogg has piloted community-based early childhood programs and helped host Governor’s Forums on Early Childhood Education in Mississippi and other states.
Tupelo Public School District Pre-K program is preparing 180 4-year-olds for kindergarten at the King Center this year.
“The classes are taught by highly qualified teachers and highly qualified assistants,” said Dale Warriner, director of federal programs for the Tupelo Public Schools. The district’s Pre-K program is funded through federal Chapter 1 funds.
The open house will be from 9 to 11 a.m. for parents interested in the Tupelo Public Schools Pre-K program for 4-year-olds.
To be eligible to apply, students must be residents of the Tupelo Public School District and turn 4 by Sept. 1, 2009.
A second open house is planned for 5 to 7 p.m. April 28.

Michaela Morris/Daily Journal