Mayor’s Star Council Class Six had its second meeting during October on Early Childhood Education. The class heard from Shelly Sender, Director of Early Childhood Education with Temple Emanu-El; Regen Fearon, the board chair for Early Matters Dallas; Derek Little, who is an Asst. Superintendent at DISD; and Dan Micciche a DISD trustee. Regina Nippert with the Budd Center served as our moderator. The panel discussed a variety of topics such as defining early childhood education, things DISD is doing to improve early childhood education development, effects of economic status on early childhood education, and other educational models that are being executed both in Dallas and around the country.

Class Six member Amanda Arizola found the meeting very informative. She enjoyed learning about the partnerships between DISD and childcare centers. “Strong partnerships between DISD, Early Matters Dallas, and Educational First Steps have become a driving force in this arena; but additional support for daycare owners, which are proportionally minority business women, is needed in order for them to expand services and provide quality educational services that will prepare students for Pre-K.”

Harold Hogue of Class Six said, “It’s also worth noting DISD is doing an incredible job using their resources to make early childhood education a quality experience for families.”

The overall emphasis from the panelists highlighted that issues facing early childhood education are intricate and multifaceted. For example, with regards to food, 90 percent of DISD students are on free and reduced lunch and that 90 percent of brain development occurs before age 5. This is a major issue that DISD is wrestling with because the more healthy and nourished students are the more likely they are to perform better in school. Affecting change on this continuum at an early age is important because of its long-lasting impact. Regen Fearon stated, “Before third grade, you are learning to read, and after you are reading to learn.”

This is a problem with no quick fix but there are opportunities for solutions to take effect – it just takes a village to do it!