Malloy to Invest in Quality Early Education for Connecticut

This week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy laid out a $12 million proposal to increase admittance to preschool and advance the quality of childhood programs in Connecticut.

Malloy spoke a news conference held at the School for Young Children at St. Joseph College, saying:

"Early childhood education is a crucial part of our entire educational system. We must expand access and coordinate educational systems to encompass early childhood health, nutrition and development."

Malloy wants the state to allocate $4 million in order to afford 500 more children preschool, from families who can't afford it, as well as a $5 million bond fund to design a system rating the quality of daycare and preschool programs, writes Kathleen Megan at Hartfod Courant.

The proposal would give parents the ability to monitor the success of a program before they choose whether or not to enroll their child, while people who work with young people are given more opportunities for development.

"We believe a rating system is highly appropriate as a way to bring about increased quality," Malloy said.

The proposals were largely drawn from the state's unsuccessful application for a $50 million federal Race to the Top grant late last year.

Malloy said:

"Even though we lost, we were able to harness the enthusiasm and the expertise of the early childhood community. … Thanks to those efforts, we have a road map to keep our commitment that all students deserve a high-quality education."

Early childhood education advocates are said to be encouraged by the investment. They see it as a sure sign of the seriousness of Malloy's commitment to education reform in the state.

Maggie Adair, executive director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance, said the governor's proposal "increases access and improves quality" of early childhood programs, writes Megan.

"We know budgets are really tight," said Sarah Esty, a policy fellow at Connecticut Voices for Children.

"If the governor were proposing five times as many slots, I'm sure they would be filled. We are mostly just pleased that there is an increase at all because so many other programs are having no increases or even cutbacks."

On the proposed quality assessment system, Esty thinks that it "will make sure parents have the ability to make informed choices for their children and make sure providers know where they stand and how to improve."

It hasn't been lost on Esty that one of the key reasons that Connecticut's application in the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge was turned down was because it lacked a system to monitor quality.

Malloy's plan would address that.

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