Arizona's Early Education Work Highlighted in National Conversation

Posted on: September 13, 2013

The U.S. Department of Education's "Strong Start, Bright Future" Back-to-School bus tour stopped in Arizona this week emphasizing the importance of ensuring that all students benefit from high-quality educational opportunities. 

As part of Secretary Duncan's focus on education in Arizona, a group of early education experts and advocates gathered at Rio Salado Community College in Phoenix to discuss Arizona's work in early education with leadership from the US Department of Education and the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Dr. Karen Ortiz, Helios' Vice President and Program Director for Early Education Initiatives participated on a panel along with representatives from Chicanos Por La Causa, First Things First, Read On Arizona, the Arizona Department of Education, Rio Salado Community College, Northern Arizona University and Arizona State University.   

The panelists discussed key issues in early education including:  access to high quality early learning experiences for all children, providing opportunities for professional development for early care providers and the need to align early education and K-3 teaching strategies.

Dr. Ortiz shared the role that Philanthropy plays in helping to  strengthen the early childhood education system in Arizona.

"We know that the early years - birth through age 8 - provide the foundation for children to be successful throughout the education continuum and ultimately achieve postsecondary success," said Ortiz.  "However, we also know that  programmatic funding alone isn't going to change the game.  We need to align and coordinate our efforts so that children and families have the supports they need to be successful."

In addition to the panel discussions, Dr. Libby Doggett, from the US Department of Education and Ms. Linda Smith from the US Department of Health and Human Services discussed the national priority of making high-quality preschool available to every child in America and significantly expanding and improving services to young children. 

To learn more about the Back to School bus tour, visit

Category: Early Grade Success

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