Early Learning and Pre-K Programs Get National Attention

September 19, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan will be traveling through the Mountain State on Thursday to learn more about West Virginia’s early learning successes.


The West Virginia stop is part of the U.S. Department of Education’s “Education Drives America” Back to School Bus Tour. Secretary Duncan’s first stop will be the Elk Elementary Center in Kanawha County followed by a visit to McDowell County for a discussion on public-private partnerships to support education improvement.    

“West Virginia has experienced a long history of supporting high quality pre-K and early learning, most notable is our journey to offering universal access by this school year,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Jorea Marple. “It is a real honor to have Secretary Duncan come to our state to learn more about our school readiness programs and our unwavering dedication to our youngest learners.”


A recently released report, “The State of Preschool 2011: State Preschool Yearbook,” shows West Virginia remains strong in its commitment to pre-K even as many states are faltering in their efforts to deliver high-quality preschool education to children most in need. The report noted West Virginia has made tremendous progress in early education over the last decade. West Virginia continues to rank in the top five states for access, enrolling an all-time high of 58 percent of 4-year-olds in 2010-2011, an increase of 24 percent from a decade ago, according to the report.


Across the state, approximately 16,000 children are enrolled in more than 1,000 West Virginia Universal Pre-K classrooms. Most of the classrooms are collaborative with community partners, including Head Start and private childcare providers.


Compared to children denied high-quality preschool, children who attend are more likely to graduate high school and go on to higher education. They are less likely to require special education or repeat a grade, become teenage parents, or commit crimes as teens or adults, all at great savings to taxpayers. As adults, they are more likely to be qualified to fill the demand for skilled workers that will keep America competitive in the global economy.


Duncan will tour Elk Elementary Center and participate in an early learning roundtable with local and state education leaders. He will then travel to Mount View High School in McDowell County to participate on a community building partnership panel.


For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education Communication Office at 304-558-2699. For live, up-to-the-minute updates from the road, follow the “Education Drives America” tour on Twitter using the hashtag #edtour12, or visit the U.S. Department of Education’s bus tour blog (http://www.ed.gov/blog/topic/bustour/).

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