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By Kirsten Baesler, Sen. Nicole Poolman and Sen. Phil Murphy, Published March 06 2013

Letter: Speed early childhood ed bill to passage by the ND House

We want to thank the senators of North Dakota for their strong bipartisan support on SB 2229 involving funding for early childhood education for North Dakota’s youngest citizens. The lofty goals of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act require all students nationwide to meet rigorous standards.

North Dakota has always had a good educational system; our test scores are among the highest in the nation. Our goal is to move from good to great by creating the best PK-12 educational system in the nation, and one approach to doing this is by supporting quality early childhood education directly aligned with our K-12 programs. We agree wholeheartedly that strong evidence of effectiveness should drive what the state funds, as well as what practices our schools implement.

We believe there is strong evidence to support early childhood education, but we want to build on this evidence and continue to collect data from the results. The earliest preschool students are now fourth graders. We will continue to collect academic data on these North Dakota students into middle and high school.

North Dakota early childhood programs aligned with public school districts have strong educational components that are developmentally appropriate. They are providing powerful data to demonstrate their effectiveness. The support for these programs should continue to provide further data. We would not embrace and support the issue of early childhood education if we didn’t believe that strong evidence does exist to show effectiveness – and that strong evidence will continue to exist.

To keep moving forward and continue making gains in education, we support the full passage of SB 2229 as it moves to the House and believe it will lead to success for the state of North Dakota. This bill will allow DPI to begin to work with more schools to implement early childhood education so that we can continue to collect data to present to the 64th Legislative Assembly.

The implementation of the early childhood education grants will strengthen our study and will also allow us to include actual North Dakota early childhood education results in our report to the Legislature. We believe that our North Dakota school districts fully understand the needs of their communities. These grants will support districts that have expressed a need for early childhood education and allow them to develop programs to best meet their communities’ needs.

Thanks again for supporting early childhood education; this is bipartisan work at its finest! We believe children are our future and it is critical to educate them now, when they are most ready to learn.

Baesler is N.D. superintendent of public instruction; Sen. Poolman, R-Bismarck, represents District 7 in the N.D. Senate; Sen. Phil Murphy, D-Portland, represents District 20 in the N.D. Senate.