Governor Patrick delivers state of the state address (Photo: Eric Haynes, governor's office)
Governor Patrick delivers state of the state address (Photo: Eric Haynes, governor’s office)

Earlier this week Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick unveiled an education plan that included substantial increased investments in high-quality early education. Here’s what he said about early education in his state of the commonwealth address last night:

Opportunity is too important to leave to chance.  Opportunity requires growth.  And growth requires investment.  It’s just as true of government as in any business.  The economy is not like the weather; it is not some natural force that is beyond our control, something where we have to wait for others to predict or explain. What we choose to do, and not to do, shapes our future.  Indeed, as one friend of mine likes to say, ‘The future belongs to those who prepare for it.’

That is why we invest in education, in innovation and in infrastructure.

We invest in education because well-prepared young minds and mid-career talent is our global calling card and our economic edge….

After 20 years of education reform, our students are at the top of the nation in student achievement and at the top of the world in math and science.  Teachers have more support and flexibility to respond to students’ individual needs, and standards and accountability are high.

But achievement gaps persist.  And they will until we go deeper.

Every educator knows that reading proficiency by the third grade determines future academic success.  Because achievement gaps begin to form in the early years.  And yet today in Massachusetts, only 61% of all third graders are proficient in English Language Arts.  For African Americans, the number is 38%; for Hispanics, 36%.  Nearly 30,000 infants, toddlers and other preschoolers are on the waitlist for early education opportunities.

Let’s ensure that every child in Massachusetts has access to high-quality early education.  We know from educators, from academic research, from years of public policy, and from our own experience as parents that investing in our children at a young age pays huge dividends for them and for our community as a whole.

Massachusetts readers, click here to thank the governor for his leadership.