Client News

Miami Herald: Don’t shortchange our future

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Don’t shortchange our future

A quality statewide school-readiness program is essential to Florida’s future prosperity. The study of the brain and learning confirm that high quality early care and education programs ensure our children arrive at the doors of our public schools ready to learn and with the building blocks they need to achieve academic success. It is here where our workforce pipeline begins; building the highly-skilled, highly-trained workforce we will need to be competitive in this global economy.

The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade, in partnership with our Early Learning Coalition and the Early Childhood Initiative Foundation, invests in a five-star quality rating improvement system that currently includes one-third of all child care centers in our county. The program serves to lift the quality of child care for 30,400 children ages 0 to 4. Last year 2,500 early-care and education teachers were awarded scholarships to improve their professional qualifications. This is an essential strategy for raising the quality of child care and many centers can credit an increase in their star rating to the improved credentials their teachers have earned with our assistance.

For these reasons, we strongly oppose several bills making their way through the Florida House that would impose sweeping and disastrous changes to our state’s early learning system. These bills eliminate provider accountability to ensure educational outcomes for children, eliminate funding for school-age child care, reduce quality improvement efforts and eliminate local, community flexibility and initiative.

This legislation, in effect, takes the early learning out of our early learning system and instead reduces it to programs that simply warehouse children while their parents work. These bills, if passed, would impair the state’s ability to ensure children are learning by eliminating accountability for school readiness providers and proper assessment of our youngest children. Florida has been a national leader when it comes to education reform and accountability.

How can we expect success and opportunity for students — who will eventually become our workforce of teachers, scientists, doctors, lawmakers, business leaders and public servants — when we pull the rug out from under them during their most formative years? If we shortchange our children now, we shortchange our own future.

Some cuts to children’s programs never heal. If you’re as concerned about these short-sighted developments as we are, write, call or e-mail your state lawmakers today.

Modesto E. Abety-Gutierrez, president and CEO, The Children’s Trust of Miami-Dade

« Return to News