“The foundation of all prosperity is quality education. Mecklenburg County families have clearly indicated that education is a top priority.”
- What we know is that children who are not reading proficiently by the third grade are less likely to succeed academically, graduate from high school, and be ready to succeed in college and in careers. The data shows that higher third grade reading proficiency levels lead to reduced rates of arrest and incarceration, reduced use of social services, increased rates of employment and increased likelihood of home ownership.
- I am calling for the implementation of Universal Pre-K for all children in Mecklenburg County. Under Universal Pre-K for all children in Mecklenburg County, every child age 0-5 in Mecklenburg County will have access to a quality early childhood education. No child will be denied because of his or her family’s financial condition. All parents from all income brackets will be able to utilize Universal Pre-K to ensure a better future for their children.
- This is an ambitious undertaking that will have to be phased-in. Over the last several months, I have consulted with numerous experts and stakeholders in our community to determine the viability of this plan and how it could be structured.
- It is clear that trying to do this all at once would be biting off more than we could chew. But a three-phase approach seems workable. Universal Pre-K will be a three phase approach, “In the first phase, we would get every child off all current waiting lists. In the second phase, we would serve all 4-year-olds in the County. In the third phase, we would reach children age 0-3.
- To get started, we will immediately form an Implementation Team to organize this community effort.
- To make this work will require the participation of our whole community, the public and private sectors. Research conducted by The National Institute of Early Education Research has revealed that investments in high-quality early childhood education bring identifiable, lasting benefits and substantial economic returns for everyone.
- We will need support from local and national foundations. We’ll need support from our partners at the State of North Carolina and in the General Assembly. We’ll need support from our federal delegation, and we’ll need local support from non-profits, businesses, and government.
- The time has come for us to take bold action to ensure the future prosperity of our county. I hope you’ll join this effort!