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OPINION: Early Childhood Education: Preparing Today’s Children for the Future

In the fall of 2016, over 15,500 new kindergarten students enrolled in public schools throughout Hillsborough County. During the first 30 days of the school year, a basic readiness assessment completed on the kindergarten students found that only about one-half of the students were ready to read. Sadly, across the state a similar situation exists, our young children arrive at kindergarten already behind. When looking at subgroups of these students, less than half of minority children, English language learners, or low income students were ready to read. Experience tells us that children who arrive at kindergarten less prepared are likely to lag behind their peers throughout their entire educational years – they are more likely to be below grade level at third grade; are more likely to be retained; and less likely to graduate on time from high school or graduate at all. Senator Dana Young (Tampa District 18) said, “We need to make sure these programs are adequately funded so that every child that wants to participate is able to do so.”

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