This piece originally appeared in The Gazette.
My first caucus was one to remember. That’s because I was able to raise my voice and caucus for kids.
I am a high-school student who wants to see other kids benefit from the same high-quality early learning that I received while growing up.
It’s frustrating and heartbreaking that there are kids in Iowa and around the country who do not have access to these vital programs. In Iowa, more than half of 3- and 4-year-olds are not enrolled in preschool. This means they could start school 18 months behind their peers.
For these reasons and many more, I am committed to ensuring that our next president prioritizes investments in early childhood education and increases access for all American children.
That is why I have volunteered my time with Save the Children Action Network’s High 5 for Kids campaign. We worked to ensure that children’s voices were heard at the caucuses.
On caucus night, SCAN volunteers were able to pass a total of 28 resolutions at precincts across the state. These resolutions are in support of expanding high-quality early learning programs in Iowa.
Through my work with SCAN, I’ve been able to advocate for children in our local communities, throughout Iowa, and around the world.
I have met with presidential candidates and even traveled to Washington, D.C. last spring to speak to members of Congress and help spread the word about this important issue.
Early education makes such a huge difference, especially when you consider that 90 percent of a child’s brain develops during the first five years of life. Every child deserves a healthy start in life, so it is vital to provide them with a quality education early on. With this goal in mind, we will be able to create a society in which every child has an equal opportunity to succeed.
Although the caucuses have come and gone, our work to ensure a better future for our children continues.
Sruthi Palaniappan is a Save the Children Action Network Student Ambassador and a student at Linn-Mar High School.