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12 23Sat10252014

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State pre-school education eyed

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A BILL has been introduced in the Guam Legislature mandating the phased-in implementation of state preschool education beginning school year 2015-2016.

The measure – introduced by Sens. Aline Yamashita and Tony Ada, Speaker Judith Won Pat and Vice Speaker Benjamin Cruz – seeks to ensure that all children receive quality education through the early learning brought about by pre-school education.

“Our families are faced with rising crime, welfare, unemployment and suicide rates. All this tells us that we must do something different. And that something different has to be an investment into the early years where inclusive attitudes, foundational competencies, value for work and family partnerships are ignited,” said Yamashita, who is a former educator.

Yamashita said there is solid evidence accumulated from research that education addresses the root of social problems faced by communities and that the needed response must be proactive rather than reactive.

“As Guam discusses building a penitentiary and as Guam looks for criminals and invests so much resource into public safety, it is only smart and strategic that we invest in prevention by molding minds at the very beginning,” Yamashita said.

Under the bill, preschool programs will be launched during the first year of preschool instruction in four schools – one selected from each of the island’s four education districts.

Additional schools will then be phased in during subsequent years, with all elementary schools implementing the curriculum by school year 2020-2021. Additionally, the compulsory age for school attendance will change from those 5 to 16 years old, to those 4 to 16 years old.

“This measure aims to provide high-quality learning opportunities. It calls for the Guam Department of Education to develop the rules and regulations to include teacher certification in early childhood education, continuous training, developmentally-appropriate curriculum and family engagement at all levels of programming,” the senator said.

According to Yamashita, the measure has already received support from Gov. Eddie Calvo and first lady Christine Calvo as well as the Guam Early Learning Council, the University of Guam, Guam Community College, Head Start, the Guam Department of Education and other community stakeholders.

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