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Demand more for city's kids

Baltimore is under a microscope. Our beautiful but scarred city has made national headlines for all the wrong reasons. I reject the notion that Baltimore has "passed the point of no return" ("Baltimore had a lot of warning about issues surrounding Freddie Gray," May 11). We must search for ways to accelerate change, to re-focus on proven investments.

The research confirms it: A child's future is profoundly influenced by what happens during the first five years. When those years are full of learning opportunities that encourage both intellectual and emotional development, a child is far more likely to succeed throughout adolescence and into adulthood. This results in higher incomes, reduced dependency on drugs and alcohol and less crime.

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According to a the State Preschool Yearbook, just published by the National Institute for Early Education Research, Maryland ranks 17th in state spending on pre-K. The same report ranks Maryland 13th in access to pre-K for four-year-olds. That doesn't sound too bad, but in what is arguably the wealthiest state in the nation, it's time to demand better.

The fact remains that access to the full spectrum of high quality early childhood education too often depends on a child's ZIP code and family income. In Baltimore, over 43 percent of children under age five are living in poverty. Much more help is needed.

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Let's show the world that Baltimore and Maryland are committed to change. Let's give every child a chance to succeed. The first five years last forever.

Margaret E. Williams, Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Maryland Family Network.

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