MS Economic Council champions early childhood education - - Jackson, MS

MS Economic Council champions early childhood education

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By Monica Hernandez - bio | email | twitter

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Ever since she was 8 weeks old, Jordan Northington's parents have dropped her off at Galloway United Methodist child care in downtown Jackson. Now age 4, Northington's parents say early education is paying off.

"I think it's going to help her growth and the transition from early childhood to Kindergarten, I think she's going to be ready, I think she's going to be able to walk into that classroom and hit the ground running," said Cathy Northington.

That's why the Mississippi Economic Council held a conference at the Jackson Convention Complex Friday. It's hoping to stress the importance of early education in preparing children for their first years of school.

"This is an opportunity to raise awareness, and enlist 1,000 champions around the state who are going to be off their seat and on their feet about this issue," said Blake Wilson, CEO of the Mississippi Economic Council.

Wilson said early education is a workforce issue, and improved quality and access could give the state an economic boost.

"When people go to work, they don't have to worry about their children, they don't have to wrestle with the issue so the attendance rate goes up, the lack of worry goes up, and, in addition, kids are better prepared for school," said Wilson.

While the organization is hoping to raise awareness, it doesn't plan on making any legislative moves for some time.

First, it's testing the success of a program called "Mississippi Building Blocks," aimed at making sure those in child care are well-prepared for kindergarten.

"Overtime, if we're able to prove this makes a difference, and if the economy improves, this is where we could come back to the state and say, let's institute this private sector program and make it public-private sector," said Wilson.

Meanwhile, the economic council is hoping to enlist early education supporters, kicking off a 10-city statewide tour in March.

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