Early childhood education

Hadden Smith and Zachary Phillips work on multiplication exercises in a portable classroom in Jackie Rutherford's second grade class at Antelope Elementary School in Clearfield on Monday, June 28, 2010.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Parental involvement, early childhood intervention, student proficiency and college and career preparation have emerged as key issues that lawmakers may tackle during the Utah Legislature 2013 session, with early childhood education looking to be a focus for many on Capitol Hill.

Studies show that a child's early engagement with learning especially reading is essential to lifelong success. Parents and families who shoulder this responsibility should expect government involvement that supports and facilitates their role.

In this 2013 session of the Utah Legislature, leaders are already stepping forward with bills designed to address areas where they see the need for improvement within Utah's education system.

Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, has suggested creating a statewide high quality preschool program for at-risk children, arguing that by investing early in at-risk children, the state can save millions down the road in special education costs.

Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City and Rep. Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, have indicated a desire to increase funding for education by boosting the state's income tax for some or all Utahns. Dabakis has also proposed moving below-the-line budget items like transportation costs, school supplies and library books into the definition of growth.

Rep. John Knotwell, R-Herriman, has proposed implementing a system where elementary teachers would be trained in identifying warning signs for dyslexia and would then refer students to a district specialist, while a bill by Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, would amend the K-3 reading improvement program to focus funding toward initiatives that will result in increased proficiency scores.

These and other proposals are likely to emerge throughout the 2013 session. Follow the Deseret News' ongoing legislative coverage to learn more about early childhood education and other issues that matter to Utah families.

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