Ready for School is a statewide campaign to improve the lives of Oregon’s children and build a stronger economy with wise public investments in high-quality early childhood programs. The campaign is led by a coalition of top business and community leaders who have made it their business to better prepare at-risk children for success in school and later life. Make it your business, too!
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A look ahead to the 2013 legislative session
Sowing the seeds of success with early learning strategic grants
Ready for School's top legislative priority for the 2013 session is the creation of a seed fund to encourage school districts to align and integrate early learning with elementary school(s) in their districts. Our proposal is integral to achieving Oregon's new 40-40-20 education goals, aligned with federal education reforms, and necessary to build on the innovative efforts already underway in Oregon.
The newly formed Oregon Education Investment Board is charged with building seamless connections between each stage of the education continuum, with a particular focus on the transition into kindergarten. While there is general agreement among educators and policy makers that establishing these connections is critical to education reform, there is little precedent in the way of implementation.
In short, K-12 schools and early childhood programs need guidance for connecting with one another. Oregon would be wise to conduct small-scale trials to prevent large-scale errors in the implementation of a more connected system. To that end, the Oregon Education Investment Board should facilitate development of viable models that connect early learning with elementary education.
Ready for School proposes an initial allocation of $10 million for a seed fund to foster innovation and adoption of successful models. This is just the sort of high-leverage investment Oregon needs.
Why is this necessary?
Schools, districts, and early childhood programs will need guidance and examples in order to effectively connect and collaborate with each other. Educators have little opportunity to work with the early childhood service providers, and those who have tried to serve preschool children often discover the early childhood landscape — including curriculum, assessment or parent involvement — is foreign territory and not aligned with K-12. The same is true for early learning professionals when trying to interact with the K-12 community.
Does anything like this exist in Oregon?
Yes. We are aware of examples of private-sector leadership and funding for groundbreaking projects of this type. These trailblazing projects are evidence of both the need for and support for a statewide initiative:
- The Children's Institute's Early Works initiative at Earl Boyles Elementary School in Portland is an on-the-ground learning laboratory designed to demonstrate the effectiveness of linking high-quality early education with the elementary grades.
- At Yoncalla Elementary School, the Ford Family Foundation and the Children's Institute recently formed a partnership to build an integrated and aligned early learning system in rural southern Oregon.
- The Gladstone Center for Children and Families is a highly regarded example of an integrated, community-based early learning system in a suburban community.
Learn more at early-works.org.