Dem Radio Address: Vitelli says: Investment in education is an economic imperative

Posted: September 12, 2014 | Front Page, Senator Vitelli, Weekly Radio Address
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Good Morning. This is State Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic.

 

The official start of the school year is upon us. And for hundreds of four year olds across Maine, this was their first year of school, as pre-Kindergarteners.

 

Unfortunately, not every child in Maine had the opportunity to enroll in a pre-K program.

 

Currently, fewer than one-third of our four-year olds are enrolled in a public school program. That leaves too many four year olds missing out on an opportunity to get a head start on their learning.

 

To help level the playing field, the legislature, earlier this year, passed a new law that expands pre-K opportunities so that more Maine children will have access to an early childhood education in their own school district.

Senator Eloise Vitelli

Senator Eloise Vitelli

 

Why is this important?

 

Well, as a former pre-school  teacher, I saw first-hand how early learning experience provides the building blocks for future learning.

 

What we learn early in our lives contributes directly to our abilities as adults; shapes our opportunities; and influences our later success.

 

I’m not alone in that thinking. Folks from law enforcement to the business community, to teachers and economists, understand that investing in strong public, early education will bring social and economic benefits and should be a priority.

 

According to a 2011 report by America’s Edge , every $1 invested in early education in Maine generates nearly doublein economic activity. To put that in perspective, that’s a greater rate of return than other economic investments we currently make.

 

As Dana Connors, President of the Maine State Chamber of Commerce said, “Investment in early childhood [education] is real economic development. It is not just a social and moral imperative; it is an economic imperative.”

 

Some may ask what can government do?

 

The greatest role government can play is to make sure all of our people have the tools and skills needed to be productive. Economists like to call this an investment in “human capital.”

 

Investing in our people, in human capital, is precisely what is needed and what Maine people expect.

 

For the last four years, Maine has had the second worst personal income growth record in the nation—meaning our people are having to work harder, for less.  In contrast, if you look at which states are doing well, it’s the ones with a well-educated workforce.

 

Maine’s economy is lagging behind in other areas too. While the rest of the country has recovered all of the jobs lost from the Great Recession—and even gained some new ones, Maine has barely recovered half of the jobs lost. And, many of the jobs we did gain are part-time jobs. Maine is among the five worst states in offering only part-time work for people who would rather work full time.

 

The policies of the past four years have not helped our economy. Evidence continues to mount that Governor LePage’s policies and priorities are not what Mainers need or can afford.

 

We need leaders who understand the value of building our skilled workforce, starting with our youngest and continuing to those who need new skills to meet the needs of a changing economy.

 

Thank you for listening. This is State Senator Eloise Vitelli of Arrowsic. Have a great weekend.

 

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