Children begin learning the moment they’re born. That means it’s never too early to begin setting children up for future academic success. When we talk to them and read to them, we expose them to a more literature-rich environment that helps them grow.

Unfortunately, not all children receive that exposure, widening the achievement gap. Evidence of that gap begins to show up as early as kindergarten — and it affects students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds far more than their more privileged peers.

Related content: Student achievement begins with the family

But what if every student started school ready?

A recent meta-analysis found that children who participate in early education are more likely to graduate from high school and less likely to be placed in special education or retained to repeat grades. With more early education options, I believe millions of students would benefit academically, professionally, and personally for years to come.

About the Author:

Dr. Kandace Bethea is the superintendent at the Marion County School District. She can be reached via email at or on Twitter at @bethea_kandace.

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