PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Governor Gina M. Raimondo today shared her priorities for creating opportunities for our youngest learners that put them on an early path to success. As part of her Summit on Early Learning, Raimondo highlighted the importance of reading to children as early as possible to improve their chances for success when they attend school.
"It's never too early to give our youngest learners opportunities," Raimondo said. "My husband and I know firsthand how much our kids flourished because of preschool and kindergarten, and every Rhode Island kid deserves the same chance. We already made all-day kindergarten universal last year. Let's keep the momentum going."
The Rhode Island Department of Education announced last week that the state is adding 12 sites this fall to the Rhode Island pre-kindergarten program, bringing the total number of sites to 29 and making the 2016-17 pre-kindergarten program the largest ever.
Last year, Raimondo's budget provided funding to ensure that all-day kindergarten is offered statewide by the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year. Raimondo's FY 2017 budget proposes record investments in education, with more than $40 million in new funding so all children have the opportunity to attend a high-quality public school. In particular, her proposal boosts funding by $1.2 million to continue expanding high-quality pre-kindergarten options for Rhode Island's youngest learners. Other portions of Raimondo's proposed education budget include increasing access to computer science through the CS4RI initiative, funding free PSAT and SAT tests for high school students and continuing to fund Prepare RI to allow high school students to earn college credits for free through dual enrollment programs.
What they're saying:
"I commend Governor Raimondo for hosting this summit and for her commitment and leadership to ensuring that Rhode Island children get a strong start. We know that investing in early education - especially in comprehensive, high-quality programs like those that are making the grade in our Bright Stars system - is one of the smartest investments we can make. The President's Council of Economic Advisers crunched the numbers and found that for every $1 dollar we spend on quality early education, we get $8.60 in return. Furthermore, research shows that the most dramatic results for early childhood education come with high-risk children. We've got to reach out to every community, and especially those who need it most. The state has done an excellent job in terms of outreach and collaboration. That is a credit to the leaders here today like Elizabeth Burke Bryant, and to Governor Raimondo, Mayor Elorza, and others." - U.S. Senator Jack Reed
"In the 20th century, the American education system set a standard for the rest of the world to follow. It's critical that we reclaim our role as a global leader in education and ensure that the next generation gets the skills and tools they need to succeed. We need to ensure parents are able to put their kids on the road to success before they enter a kindergarten classroom. I thank Governor Raimondo for bringing attention to early childhood education during today's forum, and I look forward to continuing my work to ensure this is a national priority." - U.S. Congressman David Cicilline
"Early learning and education is critical to a child's development. Ensuring children have access to experiences and opportunities now, helps prepare them to succeed in school and, ultimately, in their careers." - Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza
"Being here at the Governor's Summit, there is a clear belief that human capital is the state's greatest natural resource. And nowhere is that more important than in the early years. This is where you nurture and develop the best of your state. I am absolutely convinced that the way to fix public education in our country is early learning, and I applaud Governor Raimondo and her team for taking action to invest in Rhode Island's youngest learners." - Former Director of Washington State Early Learning Dept. Dr. Bette Hyde
"The Governor's Summit on Early Learning is a well-timed opportunity to bring together early childhood leaders from across the state to take stock on the progress Rhode Island has made in increasing the quality of and access to early learning and to share strategies to accelerate this progress so that more young children can benefit from high quality early learning and development programs. We know that early childhood education and intervening early to address developmental delays is a cost-effective investment that will help to improve important education outcomes including third grade reading proficiency. We thank the Governor for her leadership in calling this Summit and look forward to working with the Children's Cabinet and the RI Early Learning Council to follow up on the exciting ideas and plans that will be generated by this gathering." - Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Executive Director Elizabeth Burke Bryant
"Great things can happen when business, government and the nonprofits work together to solve some of our most complex issues. We appreciate working with the Governor, KidsCount and other partners who share our vision for all children in Rhode Island to be reading on grade level by the end of third grade, an important milestone for future success." - Anthony Maione, CEO and President of United Way of Rhode Island
Members of Governor Raimondo's Children's Cabinet:
"From reconvening the Children's Cabinet for the first time in years to proposing record investments in public schools, Governor Raimondo has made expanding opportunity for Rhode Island children a top priority. At her direction, the Children's Cabinet is focused on making government work better and improving outcomes for Rhode Island children and families, so that every child has the opportunity for a bright, healthy future. Improving access to high-quality care and education during early childhood is a critical part of this work." - Health and Human Services Secretary and Children's Cabinet Co-Chair Elizabeth Roberts
"All children deserve access to high-quality early childhood services. I am committed to ensuring that the young children who touch DCYF are connected to all of the services provided by other state agencies, to ensure that no child falls through the cracks." - Chief Strategy Officer of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services tasked with overseeing DCYF Jamia R. McDonald
"Access to high-quality child care and early learning opportunities are key to supporting healthy child development and helping kids get ready to excel in school. The goal set by Governor Raimondo for all kids to be reading proficiently by the end of third grade is more than a rallying cry - it will help us align and coordinate efforts across state agencies and hold us accountable for improving outcomes for children and families. I commend the Governor for her vision and leadership in support of Rhode Island children." - Human Services Director Melba Depeņa Affigne "High-quality early childhood services are instrumental in narrowing health disparities, promoting health equity, and getting all children on the right health trajectory for life. With Governor Raimondo's leadership, we are working to ensure that all children in Rhode Island, no matter what zip code they come from, have the opportunity to achieve their full health potential and their full life potential." - Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health
"As we expand opportunities for early learning in Rhode Island, we need to focus on program quality and improvement. High-quality early learning is vital if we are to ensure that all students are reading at grade level by the end of 3rd grade. Thanks to their focus on problem-solving, working in groups, persistence, and celebrating success, early learning programs can play a key role in helping us re-imagine schooling at all levels. Finally, early-learning programs provide models of excellence regarding parent empowerment: getting parents involved in school, keeping parents informed about their child's progress, and encouraging family members to continue with learning activities at home." - Ken Wagner, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education