Indiana Gazette: Forum Highlights Early Education Issues

During an Early Learning Forum at Indiana University of Pennsylvania on Tuesday, experts discussed how expanding access to high-quality pre-kindergarten programs is essential to school readiness, crime prevention, workforce development and future national security.

Child advocates, law enforcement, and business and military leaders participated in the forum, including state Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana; Indiana County Sheriff Robert Fyock; and Rear Adm. Thomas J. Wilson of Mission: Readiness — Military Leaders for Kids.

Mission: Readiness is a national security nonprofit organization that aims to reverse the high percentage of youths ineligible for military service.

The event was planned by partners of the Pre-K for Pennsylvania Campaign: The Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children; Mission: Readiness; and Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, a nonpartisan crime prevention organization. It was part of a series sponsored by PNC Bank’s Grow Up Great Initiative.

“Unfortunately, 72 percent of young adults in Pennsylvania cannot meet the military’s standards in math, reading and problem-solving,” Wilson said in a press release. “High-quality pre-K is a proven investment that will help reverse this trend.”
In Indiana County, officials said, 68 percent of the roughly 1,900 3- and 4-year-olds do not have access to a high-quality pre-K program.

Fyock, speaking on behalf of Fight Crime, said quality pre-K helps build a solid foundation for educational success, which in turn impacts crime prevention.

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