My mother taught me that an education never ends — learning happens throughout life. As an elementary and special-education teacher for nearly 30 years, my mother encouraged my natural curiosity and enthusiasm to learn about everything in the world.
I now have a son, AJ, who turns 6 this April. AJ had the opportunity to attend a high-quality preschool that sparked his curiosity and helped prepare him for kindergarten. As a pre-kindergartner, he built his own volcano, explored the forest in Carkeek Park, and learned to follow recipes and cook. He was also excited to learn and discover in countless other ways.
Now in kindergarten, many of AJ’s classmates were unable to attend preschool. I am lucky to be able to volunteer one day a week in the classroom, and I am constantly amazed at the disparity of abilities in reading, writing and math. Several students are still struggling to recognize the sounds made by different letters or knowing which direction to draw a number 3.
All of AJ’s classmates have a drive to learn, just like he does, and it’s a joy to see their eyes light up when they understand a new concept. But if they had been able to attend preschool, that drive to learn and discover might have started earlier, and these gaps I’m already observing just might not exist.
Looking forward, I think about the future for AJ and his kindergarten friends. Will they be prepared for college when they graduate high school? Will college be affordable? Will they be adequately prepared for a job market in which the vast majority of jobs will require some postsecondary education or training?
As parents, we know that education begins at birth. It does not begin at kindergarten — and it certainly does not end upon high-school graduation. As the Washington State Legislature grapples with our state budget, I hope they will join me in acknowledging that our children deserve a high-quality public education, from cradle to career.
These ideas are not just mine — they are backed by research and policies promoted by the League of Education Voters. You can learn more by watching a new video from the League of Education Voters or reading LEV’s vision document, "A Way Forward." And if you agree, sign the online petition and share this infographic on social media.
Editor's note: Our guest opinions belong to the guest writer and do not necessarily express the position of ParentMap or its staff.