As countless studies have shown, children enrolled in high-quality early childhood education are given the best possible foundation for success in school and in life.
Therefore, children without access to early childhood education programs are, unfortunately, given a disadvantaged start. New Mexico is a prime example of this.
According to New Mexico Voices for Children, more than 50 percent of preschool-aged children aren’t enrolled in early education programs, contributing to the 76 percent of fourth-graders not proficient in reading and the 79 percent of eighth-graders not proficient in math.
The good news is that New Mexico’s leaders continue to be dedicated to bettering our early childhood education track record, and the commitment is paying off — all of the above statistics have, in fact, been slowly improving.
A key to making these statistics improve even more quickly, though, is through early childhood education workforce development. Without a high-quality early childhood workforce, how can early childhood education programs be high-quality themselves?
That’s why I am excited to see the issue prioritized, with millions in the current budget proposal allocated to early childhood education workforce training and wage increases. Combined with the
possibility of the legislature finally passing a ballot question to the voters about distributing one percent of the Land Grant Permanent Fund to early childhood education, I’m optimistic that New Mexico will make strides toward better child well-being.
As a Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) advocate and early childhood professional, I know how important educators are.
We must train them, value them and incentivize them. They are, after all, charged with taking care of our most valuable asset — our kids, our future. What could be more important?
Jacquelyn Chasteen
Rio Rancho