Mississippi school children lag near the bottom among the states in education performance and a key reason is that many arrive at kindergarten and first grade unprepared for learning.
Most never catch up to the level of other children and the result affects lots of things over time: the earning level of our citizens, the tax revenues available in the state and the overall economic development of the state.
An effort to get children from birth to age 5 healthier and better prepared for school is underway here. It’s called Excel by 5, and it is a program that identifies community needs and coordinates programs to fulfill them.
Excel by 5 is an initiative of the Early Childhood Institute at Mississippi State University, but its success or lack of it depends entirely on effort in our community.
A coalition of people representing education, child-care centers, healthcare, business and local government is working to get our community certified as an Excel by 5 “child-friendly” community.
The Gazette has joined the coalition because we think getting our children prepared to do well in school is an important priority if our community is to grow and be more successful over time.
We hope you will take the time to learn about Excel by 5 and how you can help in this community endeavor.
Making this program successful, however, does not diminish the need to pressure our state politicians to meet their responsibility. Mississippi is the only state in the nation that does not provide money for early childhood education.
It’s hurting our state and our children’s future.
It’s a disgrace.