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Making the grade

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Editorial: Jan. 11, 2013

ISSUE: New HCS preschool classes
OUR VIEW:
Preschool offers advantages now and into the future

Thanks to money made available through the federal Title I program, not to mention considerable hard work in planning invested by local early childhood educators and administrators, two new preschool classes are opening in the Hardin County Schools.

Heartland and North Park elementary schools each have one new classroom opening this month with the goal of providing developmental and educational services to new qualifying preschool children.

The Title I money for the classrooms will pay for them through the end of the school year, according to Carlene Sheeran, HCS’ director of early childhood education. Sheeran says she’s pursuing other funding sources to carry the program through the 2013-2014 school year.

The advantage preschool offers to at-risk children are evident. For qualifying 3- and 4-year-olds with developmental or social disabilities, access to a quality preschool experience can be the single most important factor between success and failure when entering kindergarten and elementary school. And for many, the struggles can continue well into middle and high school.

Time and again studies have shown children who have had the advantage of a well-designed and effective preschool program perform better and achieve more academically and socially in elementary school. Statistically, they’re also held back in grade level less often and have higher graduation rates than compared to their similar socio-economic background cohorts who did not have the advantage of preschool.

Over time, these children go on to be better prepared for success as contributing members of society, too. They enjoy better paying jobs for longer periods of time, and with lower rates of unemployment than their at-risk peers who didn’t have access to preschool.

Are these outcomes important? Without question they are. And that 80 or so children in Hardin County will be served with quality preschool services by dedicated early childhood educators is something to be celebrated.

The next step we hope to celebrate with Sheeran, preschool teachers and HCS administrators is success in obtaining the money to carry the program forward into the coming new school year and beyond.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.