To the Editor:
Your article “2 New Coalitions Seek Influence on Campaigns” (June 18, 2008) underscores the urgent need for deep changes in America’s education system. Unfortunately, the United States may currently be known as much for its poor-quality public schools as for its high-quality universities.
Research shows that much of the gap in achievement that haunts all American students has hardened by 4th grade, by which time 70 percent of them are unable to read at grade level. This calls for a new approach that will focus on improving the education of children in each year from prekindergarten through 3rd grade. To do that requires a recognition of pre-K as an integral part of what we think of as our universal public education system, and a commitment by teachers, parents, and school leaders to the critical role of the early-elementary grades in preparing students for success.
If we want to give America’s children the future they deserve, then it’s time for both the Democratic and Republican presumptive presidential nominees to fundamentally rethink how to begin the education of our country’s youngest students.
Foundation for Child Development
New York, N.Y.
A version of this article appeared in the July 16, 2008 edition of Education Week as Note to Presidential Candidates: Time to Rethink Early Grades