May 29, 2014 6:50 PM by Judy Slate

Governor pushing early education for all

Governor Steve Bullock wants to ensure that every child in Montana has access to high-quality pre-school starting at age four.

Bullock told a conference room full of business leaders Wednesday in Missoula that we all desire good jobs, safe communities and the ability to take care of ourselves and families.

He encouraged business leaders to talk to legislators about the benefits of giving children free pre-kindergarten education. He says Montana is one of eight states that have yet to invest in pre-K.

"During the next legislative session I'm going to bring forward a proposal that ensures that Montana finally gives our youngest learners an early edge so they have every opportunity to reach their full potential," said Governor Bullock.

The proposal would allow school districts to create and expand voluntary and high quality programs for 4 years olds. The district would also be able to partner with existing pre-schools.

If you have the resources, there are plenty of pre-schools in the Gallatin Valley.

We visited Bozeman Summit School which, in addition to elementary school, has an early education program for ages three through six.

"They're just kind of in this explosion period and they're still learning all of their language and learning everything around them. Three to six is the most important years for education," said Bozeman Summit teacher Hannah Gullickson.
In this Montessori classroom, everything is hands on and the children are encouraged to be independent.
"They have a huge sense of order so when you put them in a classroom that's designed specifically for them they are able to explore their environment and piece the world together themselves," said Gullickson.

According to the state website early edge dot com: At-risk children who do not participate in high-quality early education are:

  • 25% more likely to drop out of school
  • 40% more likely to become a teen parent
  • 50% more likely to be placed in special education
  • 60% more likely to never attend college
  • 70% more likely to be arrested for a violent crime

For more information click here.

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