Frankfort, Ky. – Building a stronger Kentucky by investing in quality early childhood programs was the focus of a seminar Tuesday that drew business and policy leaders to the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion.
“The very best thing Kentucky can do for its future is to build a healthier, more educated population and workforce, and that starts, of course, with our children,” Gov. Steve Beshear said in opening the seminar that was sponsored by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. “In fact, it’s imperative that our leaders recognize that the foundation for learning is laid at the earliest ages, and that we must continue to take steps to get all Kentucky children off to a good start in life even before they reach school-age.”
Former Governors Ernie Fletcher and Paul Patton joined Beshear and First Lady Jane Beshear in inviting Kentucky business leaders to participate in the seminar, “Early Childhood: A Wise Investment in Kentucky’s Future,” that featured a presentations and panel discussion. Governor Julian Carroll and Governor Martha Layne Collins also attended the event.
In addition to former governor Ernie Fletcher, the panel members included John Pepper, retired CEO and chairman of Procter & Gamble, Co.; Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce; Wil James, president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky; Nicki Patton Rowe, a leading architect of Kentucky’s KIDS NOW initiative; and Jim Votruba, president emeritus of Northern Kentucky University.
“Kentucky has had a longstanding commitment to early childhood education as a way to increase educational outcomes, close achievement gaps before they start, and strengthen the productivity of our economy. With the support of business and community leaders across the state we will ensure continued strong investment in our youngest citizens and their future,” said Brigitte Blom Ramsey, executive director of the Prichard Committee.
Beshear noted that his administration has emphasized early childhood as a leading policy initiative by increasing funding for preschool and creating and funding Community Early Childhood Councils and the Early Childhood Advisory Council to encourage community-level collaboration for the benefit of Kentucky’s children.
The governor also pointed out that recent kindergarten readiness screening data show that only half of Kentucky’s children enter kindergarten with the knowledge and skills they need for early school success. “The results of that screener show we have a lot of work left to do,” Beshear said. “This can’t be solved by any one governor or during any one governor’s four years or eight years. It has to be a sustainable effort.”