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Future Hindsight is a weekly podcast that aims to spark civic engagement through in-depth conversations with citizen changemakers. American democracy is a living, breathing mechanism whose well-being deserves to be cultivated and protected, and now more than ever, the need to be an engaged citizen is critical. We explore how each of us has the power to shape our society and fulfill our shared civic responsibility.

Mar 23, 2019

Invest in early learning

Because the foundation for all of life’s successes -- whether academic, social, or emotional -- is laid in the first five years of life, it is critically important to invest in early learning. This is especially true for children from low income homes, who often do not have access to high quality early learning programs. As early as kindergarten, underprivileged children can be as much as 1.5 years behind the average child and it is very difficult for them to catch up. High quality early care and education is an act of social and educational justice.

Invest in teachers

The early learning workforce is largely female, very diverse, and often paid low wages. Because there is also a gap to access high quality professional development and college degrees, much of this workforce is poor. In a high-quality early learning preschool program, the teachers are well educated and fairly compensated. The quality of early care and education is almost entirely dependent on the teacher in the classroom.

The foundation of a strong society

Developing social and emotional skills through high quality early learning is strongly linked to civic engagement in adults. The role of government is to subsidize access to high quality early learning. Supporting early care and education directly supports our society and our economy. When children reach their fullest potential, they have higher rates of graduation and jobs. The ultimate act of Homeland Security is to invest in our very youngest learners.

Find out more:

Gail Joseph is the Founding Executive Director of Cultivate Learning at the University of Washington College of Education as well as the Bezos Family Foundation Distinguished Professor in Early Learning.

She teaches courses, advises students, provides service, and conducts research on topics related to early learning and equity, child care quality, teacher preparation, early childhood mental health, and school readiness. Gail is also the 2018 recipient of the David R. Thorud Leadership Award at the University of Washington.