New ideas tackle achievement gap

October 14, 2013

We live in a fast-moving world, so it is no surprise that American education requires constant overhaul. Every year brings new tests, new programs, new schemes for improvement.

Some plans are no more than fads, but at a recent town hall meeting, Gov. Jack Markell focused on two initiatives that take aim at the achievement gap, a stubborn statistic that chronically shows low-income students lag­ging behind their wealthier counterparts.

By kindergarten, the governor said, some children are already two years behind their classmates in language development, and many never catch up. In response, Dela­ware is improving the quality of daycare and preschool facilities. A rating system helps parents identify high-quality schools, and high-achieving centers are rewarded with funding to pay for low-income children to attend, allowing parents to overcome cost as a barrier to quality care. The governor said a few years ago, one in 20 children attended a quality preschool; today, one in three children attends a quality preschool so that they enter kindergarten ready to succeed.

“Few uses of taxpayer money produce a higher public return than investments in early education when you consider the massive savings in future education, healthcare and criminal justice system costs,” the governor told Politico last month.

Markell said the state also wants to assist low-income high school students who don’t even apply to top colleges, instead attending schools with fewer resources and frequently dropping out.

The governor announced a partnership with the College Board that will provide such stu­dents with scholarship information from the nation’s top universities including application­fee waivers for low-income students so cost is no longer a barrier to applying.

Improving the quality of daycare for the state’s youngest children is a critical compo­nent for future success, while helping capable high school students attend the best colleges demonstrates Delaware’s commitment to educational reform that transforms lives and develops a well-educated citizenry ready to take on the jobs of the future.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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