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Education: High quality of pre-K is not carrying over

Yet another study on state education systems and West Virginia is at or near the bottom, right? Not this time.

WalletHub’s “2022’s States with the Best and Worst Early Education Systems,” has the Mountain State ranked ninth in the nation.

In fact, we are ranked eighth for both access and quality. Yes, the education available to pre-K age children in West Virginia is truly quality education, not just babysitting. Though we are used to seeing the state placed near the bottom in studies such as this one, when it comes to early education, it did not place in the bottom five in any category WalletHub highlighted for the study.

Where there is considerable room for improvement is West Virginia ranking 35th for resources and economic support of early education. And it is perhaps that figure that gives us some insight as to why the soaring start for our kids falls apart as they work their way through the K-12 system … which does tend to make an appearance at the bottom of similar studies.

“Children enrolled in early education programs are more likely to be academically prepared for future grades, as well as have higher graduation rates and higher earning potential than those who are not enrolled, according to the National Education Association,” said the introduction to WalletHub’s research.

But here, it seems as though we are preparing those children, and then letting them down. What are we getting wrong?

It may be the complexities and challenges faced in our K-12 schools mirror those of the state as a whole, in a way that does not affect those teaching younger children to the same degree.

Whatever is being done right by our early educators should serve as an example to the entire public school system — remembering of course that common sense must prevail, rather than simply throwing our hands in the air when scaling up doesn’t work but adapting and modifying might have.

We owe it to our kids to keep giving them the same quality education they receive at age 17 or 18 as they receive at age 3 or 4. Clearly we are capable of doing good things for our kids. We can’t afford to give up on them.

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