The Vital Importance of Pre-K

On June 5th, Children's Movement founder (and former Miami Herald publisher) David Lawrence, Jr. wrote the Star-Banner with a compelling argument for restoring funding to another neglected program in Florida's education community - Pre-K.

Marions United's Secretary Lorraine Fuller has a unique perspective on Florida's Voluntary Pre-K (VPK) program. In addition to serving as a teacher in the Pre-K program over the summer, she teaches Kindergarten at Wyomina Park Elementary the rest of the year. She sees the children when they go into the program and then some of them when they enter our K-12 public school system. Lorraine wrote to the Star-Banner and her letter appeared this morning. Here's what she had to say:

Thank you to David Lawrence Jr.'s article ("Restore state Voluntary Pre-Kindergarten funding," June 5) addressing cuts for funding to Florida's VPK program.

For the past five years, I have seen the benefits of the VPK program, both as a teacher of the VPK program and as a kindergarten teacher welcoming graduates of the program into my classroom each August. VPK prepares children by teaching them the readiness skills they need to be successful in kindergarten. It is a well-rounded program filled with literacy, hands-on math, science and social skills geared to prepare children for kindergarten.

There are high expectations in kindergarten. Five-year-olds are expected to read, write sentences and understand many math and science concepts by the end of their first year of school. When children begin kindergarten without the readiness skills they need, they quickly fall behind their peers.

As a community, state and country, it is our job to ensure our youngest students are ready to be successful in school. Programs such as Florida's VPK help prevent students from falling behind before they even get started. Doesn't it make more sense to use our dollars toward intervention instead of remediation?

Let us work toward narrowing the gap in education instead of watching it grow. Let us give our children the confidence and readiness skills to make a smooth transition into their learning in kindergarten.I urge our governor and legislators to properly fund the VPK program and to be proactive in funding the education of our future leaders.

Like our K-12 public education system (and our higher education system as well), leaving our state's VPK program without the funding it needs while preserving large sales tax exemptions and corporate tax breaks is wrong for our children, our community, and our state.

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