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Pre-k expansion can work

For longtime advocates of early childhood education, it is deeply gratifying to see proposals for expanding public pre-k discussed in astute detail by candidates for governor. However, as The Sun's editorial ("The most important investment," Oct. 9) points out, expanding pre-k comes with challenges — including the need for "significant capital investments" in new classrooms and bus fleets, potentially negative impacts on private child care programs already providing "excellent instruction," and most notably, "how to pay for it."

Each of these challenges can be addressed, in part, by what's known in the field as "diverse delivery" — a key component of the pre-k approach championed by many state and national experts. By partnering with high-quality early education services already established in their communities (such as accredited child care programs), the state and local school systems can maximize the cost-efficiency of pre-k expansion. Provided that the level of instruction meets the demands of educational equity, there is no reason why pre-k cannot be offered in a range of existing community-based settings, not just public school buildings. Parents and children also benefit from greater choice, the availability of on-site before- and after-care, and fewer transitions during the day.

Margaret E. Williams, Baltimore

The writer is the executive director of Maryland Family Network, a non-profit children's advocacy organization.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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