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Local Reaction to Obama’s Universal Pre-K Plan

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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (wggb)– Education has always been a hot topic on the state and national level. But President Obama is set to make a case for the benefits of universal pre-k. An initiative that has both state officials and educators excited. State Secretary of Education, Dr. Matthew Malone says the universal preschool program is an idea he’s been pushing for for years.

“I’m very excited about this. We know that by closing gaps in reading proficiency by the end of third grade we’ll make a difference in the life outcomes of all our young people,” said Malone.

In the President’s plan he hopes to provide preschool to all low and moderate income families that would be funded by a new federal-state partnership. He wants to invest more in the Head Start program, implement higher standards for schools to meet in order to receive federal funding and encourage states to expand full day kindergarten.

Rhonda Baptiste, the Regional Director for the Kids Place, says she’s excited about the plan, but concerned about the logistics of staffing those preschools.

“It’s very difficult. We may get them to come and work for us but to be able to keep them is a challenge because we can’t compete salary wise with the public schools. And even if we could offer a competitive salary, if there was funding available, we can’t offer that great benefit of summer vacation because we are open year round,” said Baptiste.

But for now Secretary Malone admits he has no concerns, “I have no concerns about this other than I want to ensure that we maintain our high standards and we focus on the best practices. If we do that, this expansion will be smooth.”

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