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Arizona Voters Support Investing in High-Quality Early Childhood Education Opportunities

Author: Helios Education Foundation

December 18, 2019

According to a recent poll conducted by Moore Information, more than 70% of voters support Arizona investing in high-quality early childhood education opportunities. 

Indeed, the importance of high-quality education opportunities within these initial, formative years is evident. Research indicates that a child’s brain develops most rapidly from birth to five years of age. When young children are not exposed to opportunities that promote healthy brain development, including language and literacy-rich environments, they are more likely to enter kindergarten behind their peers. This lack of preparedness can impact a child’s educational trajectory: For example, students who are not proficient in reading by the end of third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school than their proficient classmates.   

At the same time, there is much work to be done in Arizona in ensuring all young children have the opportunity to benefit from high quality early learning opportunities. The Arizona Education Progress Meter indicates that only 24% of Arizona 3 and 4-year old children were enrolled in a quality early learning setting in 2019. In this same year, only 46% of Arizona third graders were proficient in reading.

The benefits of supporting high-quality early childhood education are clear. According to Nobel prize-winning economist James Heckman, every $1 dollar invested in early childhood education programs can yield up to a $16 return in individual, societal, and economic benefits. Thus, when considering opportunities to improve education in Arizona, it is vital to include early childhood education in the conversation.

Polling was conducted as part of the Born to Learn AZ initiative, launched by the Arizona Early Childhood Funders Collaborative in the Fall of 2018. The collaborative, which includes Helios Education Foundation, is dedicated to exchanging and linking knowledge, research and resources to focus statewide attention on a seamless continuum of quality early childhood services that strengthen Arizona’s young children, families and communities. 

“Helios Education Foundation is proud to support the Born to Learn AZ initiative and work with our partners to ensure young children in Arizona have the support and resources they need to succeed,” said Michelle Boehm, Program Director, Early Grace Success.  “Access to high-quality early learning experiences is critical for all children in our community and will help create a stronger Arizona.”

Born to Learn AZ builds on and complements the work of the Arizona Early Childhood AllianceExpect More Arizona and similar Arizona-based efforts that highlight the value of quality early learning.  To see the most recent Born to Learn AZ Op-Ed, visit the Born to Learn AZ website or view the article in the Phoenix Business Journal.

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