They Can't Wait for Kindergarten

Non-profits and other organizations do a lot for the little ones of Memphis and Shelby County. So do mentors, volunteers, and donors. Our schools are better than public opinion would suggest. But there’s still a troubling truth that can’t be avoided: we don’t provide early childhood education to all children in our community.

High quality programs promote children’s early social and emotional development. But only some children are receiving these benefits. Some families can afford specialized early education programs. Some families find scholarships. But a great many simply don’t have access yet.

It's time for us all to treat early childhood education as vital, not optional. Tweet this!

It’s time to start treating early childhood education like the vital investment that it is.

It’s time to make programs available for every child in Memphis and Shelby County.

Studies consistently show dramatic differences between poor children and their more advantaged peers in the early cognitive, social, and emotional skills that prepare children to succeed in school. Experts have shown that this school readiness gap already exists long before children arrive at kindergarten. In some studies, the gap is observable at the end of the first year of life. These disparities tend to persist and grow once children enter school.

By high school, these gaps which started in the first year of life, set the stage for adulthood. It’s where we begin to see high drop-out rates, incarceration rates, and teen pregnancy rates. These traps can ensnare young adults who lacked access to the help and attention they needed to thrive.

We can change it.

We can make early child education a public priority through our actions. We can keep it in our conversations and on our minds. We can make it our cause. We can vote about it.

We can attend public forums and campaign meetings. We can write op-eds, blog posts, tweets, and letters to editors. We can contact senators, members of congress, city council members, mayors.

We can talk about it—at work, at church, in class. We can talk to neighbors over fences. We can correct people when they spread misinformation. We can teach our kids, hoping that if we miss out on the chance to do the right thing during our time in charge, they might do it in theirs.