Testimony on Behalf of Early Childhood Education Funding
FY20 Montgomery County Budget Hearing – April 10 at 1:30pm
Anita K. Lampel, Ph.D.
I am Anita Lampel. I live in Bethesda and I am active in local advocacy with Jews United for Justice. Thank you for letting me speak in support of funding for Early Childhood Education in Montgomery County.
My doctorate is in Psychology with an emphasis on cognitive development in children. I was, for many years, Program Manager for the Child-Adolescent Mental Health Program in San Bernardino County, California, and, even after I left the county and was in private practice, I taught courses on child cognitive development, sat on several advisory boards to the San Bernardino City School District, and volunteered as the consulting psychologist to the premiere nursery and pre-school there.
We know that the more days a child spends in school, the more the child learns. I benefited from a kindergarten experience that began when I was 4-1/2 years old. My son benefitted from pre-kindergarten experiences that helped identify psychomotor issues that I would not have realized I could do something about until much later, when the ability of his brain to change and adapt would have been less.
Like San Bernardino, Montgomery County suffers when unequal opportunities affect the youngest, most vulnerable of our citizens. And the impact of inequitable education at the pre-kindergarten level ripples up through all the grades. We know, from study after study, that a solid start in school leads to fewer missed days, better educational attainment, and higher graduation rates from high school. That is a win for all of us, but most importantly for those parents who want the best for their children, but who cannot afford the cost. The American Psychological Association noted that in recent studies of urban pre-K programs in Tulsa, Okla., and Boston, “children gained between half of a year and a full year in language, literacy and math skills. The gains seemed strongest among children from low-income families.”
Careful selection of the kind of program to be implemented, which I know will occur under the thoughtful watch of this council’s president, Nancy Navarro, is key.
The current request is for $7 million this year with increases of $7 million for each of the next 3 years so that the program can be fully funded. I urge you to support this budget item. Thank you again for your time and attention.