School Readiness Starts at Home, National Report Says
By Kavan Peterson, Staff Writer
Unveiled at the 2005 National "Smart Start Conference" in Greensboro, N.C., the report outlines a series of recommendations for states to develop school readiness programs that focus on helping parents and families prepare children to start school.
The report calls for increased pre-kindergarten programs, support for non-English speaking families and special attention for children with special needs and those in foster care.
"The importance of a strong family and caring parents in a child's life can't be overstated," Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R), a task force member and past NGA chairman, said in a press release. "Parents are a child's first and most influential teacher."
Launched in 2002 by former Gov. Paul Patton (D) of Kentucky when he chaired the NGA, a bipartisan task force of governors was charged with developing a comprehensive strategy for school readiness. The task force's final report, Building the Foundation for Bright Futures, focuses on the role of parents as their children's first teachers. The task force also released a companion report for governors, A Governor's Guide to School Readiness, which highlights existing state initiatives to promote school readiness.
"Many of the recommendations presented here are already in place to varying degrees in different states so there is much to build upon," the task force report says. "And not every recommendation offered comes with a high price tag. Even in a lean fiscal environment, states have an opportunity to set priorities, align policies, build collaborative relationships and leverage existing resources to maximize impact and achieve goals over the long term."