In my first three months in this role, I have had the opportunity to travel across the state and see first-hand the great work that is happening in early learning. Through my visits to Early Learning Hubs, Relief Nurseries, child care field offices, and child care providers, it is clear our state is innovative and forward-thinking when it comes to educating and caring for our youngest Oregonians.
As you know, early learning is a critical step in implementing Governor Brown’s vision of supporting all Oregonians’ educational needs from cradle to career, so that every student graduates from high school with a plan for the future. The Governor reiterated this vision in October in a letter to members of the Education Cabinet, which includes the Chief Education Officer and directors of the Early Learning Division, the Department of Education, the Higher Education Coordinating Commission, and the Teacher Standards & Practices Commission. In her letter, Governor Brown outlined her expectations and priorities for the Cabinet to work together in achieving this goal. Her specific directives include developing a new, better integrated plan for early learning in Oregon and strengthening partnerships between our K-12 public schools, Early Learning Hubs, and community-based partners to better support the transition of students from Pre-K through third grade.
I see Governor Brown’s directive for an expanded early learning and development system as an opportunity to create a bold vision to scale, finance, and coordinate all of this good work that is happening in early learning throughout Oregon. I look forward to working with all of our partners and stakeholders to achieve the Governor’s vision.
The Early Learning Council is also developing a multi-year strategic plan to achieve its three system goals:
- Children arrive at school ready to succeed.
- Children live in healthy, stable and attached families.
- The early learning system is aligned, coordinated and family-centered.
To achieve these goals, it is critical for the Council to work across sectors including health, human services, and K-12. These sectors have an important role working with young children and their families that has a direct impact on early childhood education. In turn, the work we do in early learning has a significant impact on these sectors and the success of Oregon’s children. The Early Learning Council will focus on engaging these sectors in the coming months and work to coordinate and align priorities for Oregon’s youngest children and families.
There will be many opportunities to provide input and be a part of this work throughout 2018. I look forward to learning more about the work already underway and continue to move Oregon toward a truly integrated system of early learning.