Atlanta schools and district representatives will be celebrating Georgia’s inaugural Pre-K Week from October 3-7, 2011.
This week recognizes the critical role the state’s Pre-K program plays in readying children for school success. As part of the week-long initiative, First Lady Sandra Deal, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle and nearly 100 state legislators will visit a Pre-K center in their district, including many Atlanta area schools. They will meet teachers and parents, and read to children. During their visits, decision makers will see state lottery proceeds at work, investing in quality Pre-K programs that put children on a path to reading proficiency by the third grade – a key milestone that educators confirm is critical to academic success – and position Georgia as a national leader in early education.
“Governor Deal and the state legislature had quite a challenge earlier this year in grappling with how to make a shrinking budget meet the many pressing needs of Georgia’s citizens,” said Pat Willis, executive director of Voices. “We applaud the governor and legislature for having the vision to protect Pre-K and help ensure that the state remains a leader in early learning. Georgia Pre-K Week is a great way of calling attention to the 86,000 4-year-olds around the state who are getting a better start towards success.”
Georgia was the first state to offer universal Pre-K to its residents in 1993 – educational opportunities that studies have shown increase graduation rates, lower welfare dependence and reduce incarceration rates. Since then, more than one million students have passed through the doors of the Georgia Pre-K Program, and 3,909 Pre-K classes are currently in operation across the state. Other states have followed suit, using Georgia as a model for universal Pre-K.
“When young children – with the support of their families – get excited by education through high-quality early learning programs, they are more likely to do better in school and less likely to drop out in high school,” said Bobby Cagle, appointed by Governor Deal as commissioner of the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. “By engaging the family early on in a child’s education, healthy habits can be established and can lead to greater school success. Doing so can be particularly important to the success of disadvantaged families whose parents themselves might not have had positive educational experiences.”