Connecting the Pipeline from Pre-K to High School and Beyond

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We’re already halfway through Georgia’s Inaugural Pre-K week. Voices for Georgia’s Children and The Department of Early Care and Learning have teamed up to highlight the great work happening at Pre-K centers throughout Georgia. I’m so happy that Pre-K is finally garnering the attention it deserves.

Often times, the focus is on high-school graduation rates, although critical, people forget that if a student doesn’t have a strong beginning, focusing on the efforts to help children succeed at the end of the process will be in vain. It’s my nature to look at how things are interconnected with one another, therefore, the link between Pre-K and high school graduation does not escape my scrutiny.

A lot of good work is taking place throughout Georgia and the rest of the country on various stages and aspects of a child’s educational experience. However, so many of these efforts go unnoticed because of the lack of communication between systems and departments. We must do better, or else we run the risk of wasting limited resources of time and money.

There is an organization that recognizes that all the pieces of the educational pipeline need to fit together in order to achieve the best outcomes for all children. The Forum for Youth Investment, a nonprofit “action tank,” has developed the Ready by 21 framework that promotes a cradle to career continuum to ensure that youth are ready for college, work, and life. On the policy side, Rep. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii recently introduced the Continuum of Learning Act, which encourages states to focus on Birth through age 8 education systems and services alignment, specifically strengthening the connections between early learning programs and the elementary grades.

When I first began teaching, veteran teachers would always tell me, “Start the year how you want to finish it.” That same mantra holds true for our education system. Start the educational experience the way we want students to end up—successful.