Gettysburg Times: HACC Hosts Public Forum on Early Childhood Education

By Tom Fontana

The Gettysburg Campus of Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) hosted a public forum Wednesday morning as a follow-up to a film presentation last week on early childhood education.

Healthy Adams County Wellness Arts and the Birth to Five Committee screened the documentary, “The Raising of America: Early Childhood and the Future of our Nation,” at Gettysburg Middle School Thursday night, Sept. 10, hoping to increase awareness of the need for better pre-school education and child care in Adams and Franklin counties. Statistics throughout the movie stressed how the United States falls short in providing pre-school education and maternity leave for parents.

At the breakfast meeting, several speakers concerned about pre-school education offered their views on problems and solutions related to the lack of early brain development.

“Pre-school education reduces the number of students identified for special education when they enter kindergarten and beyond,” stated Dr. Wesley Stahl, Upper Adams School District superintendent. “It also lowers the need for repeating grades and produces higher graduation rates.”

Stahl noted that in the documentary film it was pointed out that 40% of children are not academically ready to start kindergarten.

“We need to look for solutions to educational needs before children are in formal school,” Stahl said. “It’s my personal belief that we’re trying to correct problems too late.”

Adams County district attorney Shawn Wagner talked about how early childhood education affects the criminal justice system.

“We can’t just arrest and imprison our way out of our crime problems,” he stated. “Today’s high school dropouts may be tomorrow’s criminals.”

Nancy Fishman, director of the PA Early Learning Investment Commission, focused on pre-school affects the future workforce.

“We have a looming talent shortage,” she said. “We need to prepare our children early so they are ready for training in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and math.”

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