Photo: Alessandra Hartkopf for Strategies for Children

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick neatly summed up the economic argument for investing in education when he announced the education agenda for his second term last month. “In Massachusetts, where brainpower is our calling card,” he said, “we need the best educated citizenry and workforce in the nation.”

Ensuring that Massachusetts children are proficient readers by the end of third grade topped his agenda. Reading, after all, is the basis of learning in all subjects, and the path to reading success begins at birth. As the governor noted, three-quarters of children who struggle with reading in third grade will continue to struggle in school, substantially reducing their chances of graduating from high school.

Governor Patrick is now preparing his recommendations for the fiscal year 2013 state budget. Our message to him and to the Legislature is simple. Increase investments in young children — our “rising stars” — in the FY13 budget. Increase investments in high-quality early education and care, a critical step on the path to literacy and success in school and beyond.

To deliver this message, we have launched our annual Rising Stars campaign. Children around the state are decorating paper stars to send to the governor and fill his office with glitter, pom poms and sequins. Families and early educators are preparing letters and post cards for their legislators.

We invite you to join Rising Stars and send this urgent message to Beacon Hill.

The advice that Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman has been giving federal budget makers is particularly relevant here in Massachusetts, home to one of the country’s most sophisticated economies.

“Deficits in skills in early childhood are perpetuated and magnified throughout life,” Heckman recently wrote the Congressional Super Committee. “The United States invests relatively little at the starting point – in early childhood development – and as a consequence pays dearly for this neglect at every point thereafter. Our country will be unable to compete in the global economy if it does not address the increasing numbers of children who are not prepared for success in school, career and life.”

Click here to get full instructions for Rising Stars 2012. For more information about Rising Stars of Massachusetts please contact Mike McLaughlin, field director at Early Education for All, at 617-778-6448 or