Urging state leaders to invest in more early education

This piece originally appeared in the Bellevue Reporter.

I would like to thank Gov. Jay Inslee for making early childhood education a priority during his time in office.

During his recent state of the state address, the governor highlighted the fact that over the past three years, almost 7,000 additional children were given access to high-quality early learning opportunities.

Since over 90 percent of brain development takes place before a child is 5 years old, preschool and Head Start programs are essential in making sure every child has a strong start to life.

As a local high school student who will be going off to college soon, I know that the high-quality early learning I received as a kid was key in giving me the cognitive and emotional foundation I needed to succeed both academically and socially.

Kids who participate in early learning programs are far less likely to be placed in special education, become a teen parent and be arrested for a violent crime than their peers who did not attend preschool.

“Of all the things we do, I believe this will have the most impact in our communities, and do the most to close the opportunity gap,” Inslee said during his address on the importance of early learning.

I couldn’t agree more, but as the governor said, we aren’t done yet. To this day, two out of every five American children do not have access to early education. Forty percent of our children — the future of America — are starting their lives developmentally behind their peers. This is our chance to set an example for the rest of the country, to encourage our lawmakers to put kids first. That is why I am urging our state’s elected leaders to invest even more in these vital programs.

Kids in Washington deserve the chance to thrive — let’s give it to them.

Daphne Myhrvold, junior at Lakeside School in Seattle