Governor Deval Patrick Rallies for Increased Education Spending

Lindsey Kennett
BU News Service

“If someone wanted to learn how to ski, but if they started at 21, they would have a hard time,” said Eileen Sullivan, a Clinical Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Boston University. “However, if they started at 2 or 3,” she continued, “it would be like a chore it would be so easy. I feel that way about early education.”

The topic of early education, and education spending in general, was one of the main focal points of Governor Deval Patrick’s final State of the Commonwealth address on Tuesday.

“First and foremost,” said Patrick during the address, “let’s keep leading in education, lifting higher our strong public schools and keep strengthening our weaker ones. And let’s give our public colleges and universities the resources they need to freeze tuition and fees once again.”

Sullivan, who specializes in early, elementary and special education, is very familiar with the benefits that early education can have on young children. “Studies have been numerous in terms of advantages of early childhood education,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.

Ounce of Prevention Fund is one of the many organizations advocating for early education for children from birth to age five.  According to their website, children who do not receive “high-quality early education” are 25 percent more likely to drop out of school, 40 percent more likely to become a teen parent, 50 percent more likely to be placed in special education, 60 percent more likely to never attend college, and 70 percent more likely to be arrested for a violent crime.

These facts demonstrate why professionals like Sullivan advocate so fiercely for the education of young children.

“If teachers give solid content to 3 and 4-year-olds, they learn” Sullivan said. “I applaud Governor Patrick for putting [early education] in the budget,” she continued. “I hope it actually comes to fruition.”

Governor Patrick’s proposed budget for the 2015 fiscal year was released on schedule last Tuesday, in spite of the snowstorm that delayed his speech by a week.  It includes over $200 million devoted to the improvement of educational programs for children of all ages, $15 million of which is aimed specifically towards early education programs. It also includes $1.1 billion for higher education funding.

According to Ruth Shane, the director of the Boston Public School Collaboration, some of the main issues that the Boston Public Schools face currently involve increased elementary and middle school enrollment, providing teacher evaluations and necessary training, and creating an enriching and interesting environment that encourages students to stay in school.

“It was just announced that the [high school] dropout rate continues to decline, which is a good thing,” said Shane. “That has a lot to do with creating high schools that are more responsive to student needs; making the school a place the student wants to go day-in and day-out.”

In his State of the Union address later on Tuesday night, President Obama also advocated for increased education spending and policies including universal pre-K.  Analysts expect this to be one of the elements of the Democratic platform in the 2016 presidential race.


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