“…I can tell you there’s nothing more important than that development of that brain in the first four years of life,” Alabama’s Governor Robert Bentley said earlier this month at the Alabama Governor’s Early Childhood Education Leadership Summit.

Nearly 300 early education leaders attended the summit, which “highlighted the state’s voluntary First Class Pre-K program, home visiting programs, child care centers, and elementary schools and new federal grants for Early Head Start/Child Care Partnerships and Pre-K expansion,” according to a press release.

“Alabama State Superintendent of Education Tommy Bice said the success of K-12 education depended on the success of early childhood education,” a news story in the Montgomery Advertiser explains.

Bice adds: “If the leaders in this state do what’s right for children and rethink some of the things that we are currently doing and do this together, we can make a lot of difference for kids.” 

Among the summit’s featured speakers was “Dr. Patricia Kuhl, a preeminent early brain development researcher, who shared her latest research that demonstrates the importance of a child’s early exposure to language and how critical it is to the child’s learning and academic achievement,” according to the press release.

Governor Bentley also made news at the summit by calling for a tax increase.

“For me as a Republican governor to tell you that we’re going to raise taxes in this state, is tough,” an article on the website AL.com quotes Bentley as saying.

The article adds, “Bentley said a $700 million annual increase in revenue for the General Fund would allow the state to move $187 million in education dollars back to the education budget and $63 million in gasoline taxes back to road funding.”

Bentley is expected to provide more details next month during his State of the State address, according to the Trussville Tribune.

We look forward to seeing how early education fares in the governor’s proposals. Last month, in his inauguration speech, he paved the way for progress, saying:

“…we have given life-changing opportunities for children by expanding our top ranked voluntary pre-K program to thousands of preschoolers… But we can never allow ourselves to be satisfied with past achievements… We will work to give young children a ‘new, strong foundation’ with the opportunity for a good education in a voluntary pre-K program.”