REGARDLESS OF which mayoral candidate prevails in the final election Nov. 5, Tom Keane raises an issue that should be a priority for all Boston residents: early education (“In mayor’s race, hope for school reform,” Op-ed, Oct.13). Keane’s assertion that education affects a “relatively small number of people” is wrong. It affects all of us.
Boston’s future prosperity depends on educated, engaged citizens and workers. Ensuring that all young children start school ready for success — by providing them with high quality early education — builds the strong workforce that will support our community in the future.
The Boston Public Schools prekindergarten program, K1, produces great results for kids. It is no surprise that it is incredibly popular with families, with demand outpacing classroom space dramatically the past few years.
Boston K1DS is one way to carry out both candidates’ early education agenda that doesn’t rely on the system building its way out of the not-enough-K1-classrooms problem. Supported by a partnership between Boston Public Schools, Thrive in 5, the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care, United Way, and the Barr Foundation, Boston K1DS provides the same curriculum, assessments, and teacher professional development as a traditional K1, but in community-based preschool classrooms. It meets the needs of working families who need full-day, year-round care; improves the quality of community-based early education programs; and increases compensation for early educators, who earn on average just $33,000 a year, far less than the $70,000 average salary of a BPS teacher.
Giving every child the best possible start in the early years is critical, and making sure our next mayor supports the city’s public and private early education system is the first step.