MARYLAND – “Starting it at a young age is amazing because it gives them that head start to those basic skills that they’ll need to succeed in school,” Amazing Grace Learning Center Assistant Director Kaitlyn Hall said.
Of Maryland Governor Elect Wes Moore’s many plans of action ahead of taking office, the expansion of free pre-kindergarten programming for the state’s youngest learners is on the top of that list.
It’s something the Maryland State Education Association supports. “We look at Pre-K through 3rd grade as the point where we can get students to where they can use the skills they’ve learned to learn even more,” Bost said.
MSEA President Cheryl Bost says the idea is already built into the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future plan passed last year, expanding Pre-K opportunities within a span of 10 years. The plan would increase education funding by $3.8 billion each year.
While Governor Elect Wes Moore wants action sooner than that, Bost says several things would need to be ironed out. “One is the infrastructure. We need to have classrooms and facilities appropriate for pre-k students. They can’t just fit into a 4th or 5th grade classroom,” Bost said.
“In addition, finding the teachers and para-professionals to services these students. We are in a historic education shortage.”
Amazing Grace Learning Center in Salisbury’s Pre-K curriculum is focused on language and social development. The program can house up to 10 students and availability varies depending on if there are vacancies.
Although their services aren’t free, they say some parents consider it an early investment in their child’s academic success. “It is a lot easier to meet the needs of every student because its a smaller, more personal setting,” Hall said.
That’s not the case for every Maryland household, which is why those we spoke with say adopting a universal Pre-K model would level the playing field. “Universal pre-k will lighten the burden for some of our working parents who are just trying to make ends meet and also give their students a jump start at a quality education,” Bost said.
The Maryland State Education Association says they’re fully supportive of Governor Elect Wes Moore’s efforts and look forward to assisting him and his team on developing a proper plan.
Amazing Grace Learning Center tells us they will be participating in the Pre-K expansion program next year, where Wicomico County Public Schools will partner to send students in need to their program free of charge.