Leaders work to find solution to beef up early childhood education in Missouri

KANSAS CITY, Mo - A plan to beef up early childhood education funding in the state of Missouri is getting a lot of attention.

Thursday morning, Kansas City's Early Childhood Commission met with Gov. Jay Nixon at the Kaufmann Foundation Conference Center to find a solution to make education stronger in the state.

The main obstacle education leaders in Missouri say they face is children are not prepared for kindergarten.

Thursday, those leaders tossed out several solutions to the problem.

The state plans to invest $17 million in early education next year, that's nearly a 50 percent increase, according to Gov. Nixon.

That money could be used to open additional free preschools across the state, and also to strengthen the current schools by making curriculum tougher and ensuring teachers are well-qualified.

Education leaders want to target children from birth to age 5.

Airick Leonard West, board chair of the Kansas City Public School District, stressed Thursday that getting kids reading, writing and solving arithmetic at an early age could get districts like Kansas City back on par towards success.

"As many as 40 percent of the children who arrive to KCPS come two to three years behind, and developmentally, it's hard to catch them up when they start with such a deficit," West explained.

Of course, this is the toughest age to target because unless these children are being educated by their parents at home, initiatives by the city or state won't likely make a big difference, according to Gov. Nixon.

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