Early Childhood Bill Could Benefit Many Latino Children

Screen shot 2014-03-07 at 9.31.21 AMExpanding access to preschool is on the table this legislative session, and the numbers show that Latino children in low-income urban areas could benefit greatly from it.

The proposed bill would use public funds to pay for about 4,000 three and four-year-olds to attended pre-K, primarily in Connecticut’s Priority, Alliance and Competitive School Districts, which are districts the state has determined need the most support.

This means that over the next five fiscal years 1,484 Hispanic children could receive a jump-start to their education, which proponents say is a major step in helping to close the state’s achievement gap.

“The earlier they are introduced to their numbers, and letters, and colors, the better chance they have,” said Rep. Jason Rojas, D-East Hartford.  Rojas, who sits on the legislature’s Education Committee, said research points to the achievement gap actually starting before a child even enters school. “A lot has to do with where you were born, who your parents are, and what your economic situation is,” Rojas said.

State Department of Education statistics indicate that about one-third of Latino students in third grade are reading at grade level and about one-third do not graduate high school.

For Rojas and other advocates, one way to help economically disadvantaged children is to give them the same access to education that others have. To do this though, they believe the state needs to assist parents who cannot afford sending their children to private preschools.

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