Letter: Legislature should revisit early education program issue

Published: Sunday, March 31 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

Children work on water color paintings in a preschool class Monday, March 4, 2013.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

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The passage of SB71 would have been a win for Utah's children, expanding early education for at-risk children in Utah and setting students up for future success by teaching them basic skills in the social and cognitive realms.

This expansion can be compared to the Head Start program already in place in Salt Lake City. Here are some facts about that program from a USHHS report: Head Start has immediate positive effects on children's socio-emotional development, including self-esteem, achievement motivation and social behavior. By the end of their Head Start year, children scored higher in all three areas than their non-Head Start peers. Head Start parents reported positive changes in their personal lives, behaviors and attitudes — including an increase in knowledge of available social services and resources. Head Start children participate more fully in school and are less often identified as children with serious academic problems than those not enrolled in early childhood programs.

Clearly, the Head Start program has been a success in Utah. Unfortunately, our legislators failed to implement a similar early education program that would benefit many more Utah children. As a future educator, I hope that this issue will be revisited in the coming years. Our youngest citizens deserve more.

Paige Heyn

Salt Lake City

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