Earlier this year the Center For Michigan published a compendium of articles and reports titled “Michigan’s Forgotten 4-Year-Olds.” This publication highlighted the major benefits of early childhood education, while also noting that there are significant numbers of children in the state that do not have access to the education that would put them on the road to success. The inability for young children to begin their education at the time when they are most inquisitive and open to learning is especially problematic in low-income families.
With the recent publication of the Detroit Public Schools Strategic Plan, it is heartening to see a goal of universal access to educational opportunities for every 4-year-old in the city. The full implementation of this goal will make a major impact on the youngsters, their families, and the schools as the children matriculate through later grades.
For the past three years DPS has had the benefit of being a recipient of Grow Up Great funding from PNC Bank Foundation. The foundation has served as the fiduciary of these funds, and has worked collaboratively with the Office of Early Childhood Education and other partners, to provide teacher professional development, arts and science instruction, and field trips to a variety of venues throughout the region. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Detroit Parent Network and Music Hall have all played an important role in ensuring that 14 pre-K classrooms in DPS are able to provide cutting edge education for more than 200 children.
As the district works to achieve its strategic goals, it will be essential for similar partnerships to emerge in every 4-year-old classroom. Everyone in the community has a stake in the education of our youngest learners. The Strategic Plan is forward looking and ambitious. It is an opportunity for everyone to get involved. It offers a framework for the DPS Foundation, and other concerned agencies to target our efforts in line with the needs and direction of teachers and school leaders.