Forsyth County task force approved to develop ideas to improve early childhood education opportunities

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — Forsyth County leaders have begun to try and address disparities that families face who want to enroll their child in early childhood education and pre-school.

At Tuesday’s county commissioners’ meeting, the board voted in approval of forming a task force to look at how to expand educational opportunities in this area.

The task force will consist of three members from within the WSFC school district and the Forsyth County Commissioners office.

Over the course of a year, these individuals will assess ways to improve upon the pre-school/early childhood education system already in place, and how to eliminate disparities in that process.

The first big focus could come on the issue of how to fund these classes.

Dr. Donald Martin Jr., one of the county commissioners, explained pre-K and early childhood classrooms don’t necessarily get the same type of funding traditional school grades do. North Carolina only includes kindergarten through 12th grade for school districts.

Martin explained, “federal money goes to head start, federal money goes to school districts, some of which is done through Title 1. State money comes into Smart-Start – pre-K. Those dollars are given to private providers.”

The team will try to find a way to collectively streamline who is funding what, and how the county, collectively, can fund these courses.

Another area will also include looking at how these classes will be structured.

“How large are the classes? Do you have a licensed teacher assistance? What should be the curriculum focus?” are areas Martin would like explored.

Pre-K and early childhood has drastic impacts of a child’s education overall.

Sonna Williams, and pre-K teacher, explained that in her years of teaching she’s seen children who have not gone through pre-K struggle, especially in areas such as literacy.

“Those are typically learned by listening, having books read to them, and an exchange in dialogue. That’s how children learn. So, when children are not exposed to that it’s unfamiliar territory when they come in and you ask them what this book is about.”

In fact, the WSFC district did a study several years ago that followed students from kindergarten through third grade. It found that those students who had gone through pre-K scored higher on all courses than those who did not.

The district and county plans to have members named by sometime in April.

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