A recent editorial in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Star Tribune began well and ended great.
Advocates for little learners ought to have been pleased when, at their Sept. 15 debate, all three major-party candidates for governor professed that early childhood education is among their policy priorities.
It's back to school week for kids all over Michigan, and it bears repeating that for a lot of incoming kindergarteners - as many as one-third of them, in fact, according to a survey of Michigan kindergarten teachers last year -school will be a struggle rather than a joy.
Maybe I'm biased (oh, OK, of COURSE I'm biased), but it was gratifying to hear both gubernatorial candidates address the importance of early childhood last week at the first-ever Sandbox Party convention.
It's been an incredible week, what with the gubernatorial candidates signing on to address the crowd at the Sandbox Party convention Thursday at Breslin Center.
That they did speaks volumes about their regard for the power and passion of early childhood advocates in Michigan, and I can't wait to hear what they have to say. Will it match up with our view that if we want to fix Michigan we have to start at the beginning with our youngest learners? We'll find out.
In the meantime, here's some food for thought. Why do we need a Sandbox Party in Michigan:
To badly paraphrase Dickens, it is the best of times for early childhood - possibly - and it is the worst of times for early childhood - potentially.
The best of times because there's a rising tide of interest in/support for early childhood, much of it based on the solid research out there. Early childhood is increasingly being seen not just a fix for what ails society socially, but also economically - the idea being that smarter kids become smarter workers.
Where's the interest in children?
In the week since the release of the national Kids Count report - a report that had Michigan dropping three spots in state rankings, from 27th to 30th, in child well-being - there has been precious little outcry about how dire the numbers are and what they say for the future of the state if we don't act.
Forgive this bit of peevishness, but what in blue blazes is the Department of Education thinking in leaving Michigan off its list of "Race to the Top" qualifiers?
As Gongwer reported:
Despite getting all the state teacher unions on board and making other changes to the application, Michigan was once again not selected as a finalist to compete for federal grants to assist with education reforms.
The most interesting news item of the past week from an early childhood perspective has to be Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, talking about early childhood as one of the paths to a better public school system.
Speaking at the union's Seattle convention, Weingarten said it's time we "build a system of public education as it ought to be."