Imagine two kindergartners.
One enters the classroom at the beginning of the year excited to be there … grounded in basic knowledge like the alphabet, colors and numbers … well-fed and healthy.
The other has health problems … didn’t get a good meal that morning … and has spent the first few years of his or her life baby-sat by a television, with a mind that has never been challenged.
Which child will have a successful first year of school?
The answer is obvious, and that’s why the main goal of my early childhood initiative is to make sure that all Kentucky children – regardless of where they live – enter kindergarten mentally, physically and emotionally ready to do kindergarten-level work.
To that end, today we took a significant step toward that goal with the formation by executive order of the Early Childhood Advisory Council.
The council was one of the recommendations in the final report of the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education last December.
Its purpose is to unite stakeholders – in both the public and private sectors -- behind common strategies, standards and goals for how we educate and care for children in Kentucky. It’s also to advocate for improved quality of early childhood services and improved school readiness.
Today I named the 26 members of the council and its leadership.
This is a diverse group of people who are smart, talented and experienced. I look forward to working with them and to seeing the results of that work.
The council’s first task is to help in Kentucky’s application for up to $60 million made available through a new federal Race to the Top initiative called the Early Learning Challenge.
Applications are due by Oct. 15.
Competition will be stiff …but we feel good about our chances. These federal funds will reward states which create comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems with better coordination, clearer learning standards and meaningful workforce development.