The Kansas City School District is unveiling a new early childhood strategy in the wake of President Barack Obama's State of the Union address.
In a news release, the president's remarks prompted the district to schedule "an unplanned follow-up" on the importance of early childhood education programs.
District administrators will outline its new strategy for improving and expanding its current offerings. The discussion will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the district's Board of Education Building on 1211 McGee St.
In his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama noted the need to increase early childhood education programs as a way to boost student achievement.
"Study after study shows that the sooner a child begins learning, the better he or she does down the road," Obama said in his speech. "But today, fewer than three in ten 4-year-olds are enrolled in a high quality preschool program. Most middle-class parents can't afford a few hundred bucks a week for private preschool. And for poor kids who need help the most, this lack of access to preschool education can shadow them for the rest of their lives. So, tonight, I propose working with states to make high quality preschool available to every single child in America. That is something we should be able to do."
The president said every dollar invested in early education "can save more than $7 later on, by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing violent crime."
He said in states that make it a priority to educate "our youngest children," studies show those students grow up more likely to read and do math at grade level, graduate high school, hold a job and have a stable family.
"We know this works. So let's do what works and make sure none of our children start the race of life already behind. Let's give our kids that chance," Obama said.
KCPS Superintendent Stephen Green said he wants to encourage mothers to read aloud and play music to their children while they are in the womb. He said he would like to write a letter to every new mother to congratulate them on giving birth and offer advice on ensuring their children have a great start.
He said parents need to ensure their babies are stimulated. He said before a child starts kindergarten that they should know their sounds, their words, their letters and numbers.
"That sets them on the right course," he said. "It is what we refer to as kindergarten readiness."
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