Some of St. Louis's youngest students began school today. They are 3-5 year olds enrolled in free pre-schools in the St. Louis Public School District. I strongly commend Superintendent Kelvin Adams for giving 2,000 city students the early education opportunity that they need to enter kindergarten ready to learn.
National research supports pre-school programs. Kids who attended quality pre-school programs were less likely to drop out of schools later in their school careers, were less likely to have drug and alcohol problems in later life, and were less likely to end up in the criminal justice system.
I have spent a lot of time and energy encouraging pre-school programs. Parents have noticed, and waiting lists for pre-school seats exist citywide. Dr. Adams has done an exemplary job using District resources to meet the need, but the State of Missouri needs to step up, too. Given the clear advantages, the state needs to fund pre-school programs for every student.