COLUMBUS – An Ohio community is tackling efforts to expand early-childhood learning from the bottom up.
Hundreds of people, along with some local and elected leaders, were on hand Thursday night at a Cincinnati church to announce the People’s Platform for Universal Preschool. Troy Jackson, executive director of the AMOS Project, a coalition of congregations, said the platform elevates the voices of parents, educators and preschool providers who see the need for high-quality early learning. He said it’s also important for the community as a whole.
“Just being ready to learn, being ready to be successful in life – a lot of those skill sets are being developed before the age of 5, when they get into a kindergarten classroom,” he said. “So, we believe with two years of excellent preschool education, it will make a huge difference in the lives of children in our community.”
With the support of citizens and elected leaders, Jackson said, the People’s Platform aims to get either a city or county measure on the 2016 ballot.
Jackson said quality preschool is the first step toward promoting racial equality, ensuring good jobs and engaging families. In his view, the city, state and nation have been putting resources into the wrong places.
“We are spending countless amounts of money on crime prevention,” he said, “and basically cleaning up the problems that, if we had gotten ahead of the poverty and lack of opportunity and educational challenges much earlier on, we would not be facing.”
Cleveland recently received a $10 million investment from the county to expand early-education opportunities for families, and the Columbus City Council approved more than $4 million for a pre-K program earlier this year.